From 13 to 16 June 2017, I had the pleasure to attend a unique event in its genre: the European Funding Academy organised yearly by Europa Media. A tradition that has become a long-awaited event and well known by researchers, consultants, public administrators and project managers. Why is it unique? It brings together under the same roof all fundamental issues you will face while dealing with EU projects from proposal development, building a consortium, drafting a budget, reporting, writing deliverables, dealing with financial issues, closing a project to potentially being audited by the European Commission.
Participants dealing with timesheets and invoices during the Financial Reporting workshop
Still doesn’t sound unique? Add the exclusivity of meeting people from all over Europe. You could have attended an event on energy efficiency and could have networked with professionals, but at such events you would meet people working in the same field. The added value of this Funding Academy is that indeed you will meet professionals working on EU projects, but coming from different universities or companies, having totally different backgrounds and working on way different topics: from health care to energy efficiency or water management and marine research. It is indeed an effective way to increase your professional network, meet future partners, get ideas for new collaborations and projects or simply get inspired by other people and their practices.
The first two days of the Academy were focused on proposal development. In the morning of the first day, we were given an overview of Horizon 2020 and the general landscape of EU research and innovation funding schemes and practical tips, examples and strategies on how to write a proposal.
The most exciting part was of course the workshop. At first, we were split into two groups of participants. The next challenge was to read a real H2020 Work Programme topic and come up with a draft of a proposal concept, objectives and potential partners by the end of the day with the help of our trainers Valentina and Ömer.
So how did we proceed? We analysed the call ourselves and had to outline the work packages by organising our work as if we were coordinating a real proposal. It was a very productive afternoon, but also very mind challenging. In the evening, as part of social programme organized by Europa Media, we went on a relaxing boat trip on the Danube to admire the city lights.
Participants during the boat trip on the Danube at sunset
Of course, a proposal concept is not enough: you need an accurate and solid work plan. This is what we did during the workshop on the second day: we established specific tasks, their timeline and the distribution of efforts between partners based on the project idea we created the previous day.
The third and the fourth day were focused on reporting and financial management of a Horizon 2020 project. It started with Krisztina explaining how to handle the technical management and periodic and final reporting. After Gabor gave a detailed understanding of the Horizon 2020 financial rules, we had to apply our fresh knowledge and prepare a financial statement for a simulated Horizon 2020 project. The most surprising part was when we were given the solutions at the end of the workshop and discovered all the mistakes we made in analysing the invoices.
Participants networking and exchanging ideas during coffee break
All in all, the event was well-rounded and gave me a good overview of the life cycle of an EU project. Does all this sound appealing to you? You can join the next European Funding Academy in June 2018. But, if you don’t like waiting and want to learn more about Horizon 2020 funding scheme and project management, feel free to join us in one of our upcoming courses organised in different cities in Europe.