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Doing the sums

Lump sums can help ease bureaucracy, but they do have pitfalls

Is a funding revolution on the cards? A huge extension of the ‘lump sum’ funding model is being considered for the EU’s flagship R&D programme, Horizon Europe, after an evaluation of a pilot scheme backed the simplified approach to project administration.

The best way to make use of lump sum funding—where project costs are awarded as overarching sums based on estimates, thereby doing away with detailed reporting—has long been an issue circling the EU’s Framework Programmes. The method, which proponents argue substantially reduces bureaucracy, was trialled under Framework 6, Horizon Europe’s “great-grandparent”, and expanded under Framework 7, which ran from 2007 to 2014. Under that programme, lump sums were used to tackle overheads in projects under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and the now defunct Networks of Excellence. But lump sums could be about to go mainstream. 

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