Proposal Development Challenges. Building an International Consortium

Whether you are an organization with extensive experience in proposal development or a newcomer looking to develop a competitive proposal, you’ve faced the challenge of building a consortium, which is best suited to carry out the tasks envisaged within the Work Plan.

We all have close partner networks (organizations that we worked extensively with, and whom we can contact regularly in order team up in for a specific project idea) as well extended contacts (organizations recommended by our partners or those we know from other projects).

Team, Globe, Cooperation, Human, Together, Group

It might be relatively easy to build a consortium including partners from EU Member States, but what is the best strategy to follow, if the call requires participation of partners from countries we never worked with before, moreover, outside the European Union?

We at Europa Media tackled this challenge on several occasions while developing proposals targeting non-EU countries (for example, from Eastern Partnership (EaP) and Western Balkans regions) and are happy to share useful tips:


  • If you are as lucky as us to have a multinational team, make use of the added value of multilingualism: the initial search for the best partners can be done in the local language, as in many cases organizations might not have their websites in English, even if they have experts who are fluent in the language.

For example, for our new project, which is currently in Grant Agreement Preparation stage, our colleague did an extensive research in Macedonian, established initial contacts with relevant organizations and then the communication was continued in English.


  • If you’ve had any previous experience of working in the country/region, but you need experts in a different field, ask your local partners for recommendations.

While developing a proposal on EU-EaP cooperation, another EM’s project manager from Ukraine contacted her previous colleagues working in the migration field and asked for recommendations on organizations experienced in the fields of democracy, security, good governance from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, and Moldova.


  • Once you have identified several equally professional organizations, conduct a background check on CORDIS to see their track record in participating in EU-funded projects.

As the regional interdisciplinary network is quite developed, we obtained a number of expert contacts in the case described above and then we were able to decide whom to invite to the Consortium based on their experience in participating in EU-funded projects.


It is a relatively new feature, enabling you to search for partners by country, key words, programmes and organization types.


  • As a friendly gesture, include a greeting in a local language in your initial email on potential partnership as a sign of being aware of regional peculiarities.

Be aware, of mixing, for example, Slavic languages in your email :)


Once you found the potential perfect partner to carry our local tasks, make sure to be as clear in your initial email as possible, however, without giving up confidential details of your project idea. Describe the call, potential consortium and required tasks and expertise. Based on the reply, you will be able to judge whether a partner will be able to contribute at the proposal development stage, meet the deadlines and fulfill the tasks accordingly. A follow-up call on task distribution is always a good idea, if you decide to include the organization into your consortium.


Remember, with the new Work Programmes already published, it is never too early to start building a consortium for your competitive proposal. Good luck!


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