Build your winning EU project consortium: top basics to get you started

Ok, enough with the Halloween horror story-telling – we hope you had a spooktacular week!

Now, that pumpkin spice latte is going to help me be productive and get back to more serious matters – work hard, play hard. However, this seriousness is going to last me a day maximum – I need tasks to blow up every creative cell in my body. And apparently writing has been helpful so far. There are other things I enjoy in life, but on that another time…

Without further ado, let’s get you through some consortium building basics to help you get started in your quest for your future EU project partners.

Take all lessons you’ve learned so far and mix until homogenous

What did we learn in Horizon 2020 in terms of building up a consortium? First of all, you need to know exactly what your topic requires, how to match that with your idea and the expertise you need for your project’s success. Secondly, “united in diversity” ingredient applies. Why united? Because partners should all be committed and motivated, looking to develop sustainable strategies and wanting to go on with the results beyond the project lifetime. Diversity? Yes, you heard me well: geographically and from different disciplines and sectors. Get as many countries as you need and all the expertise you need for you project. I am emphasizing need as each project is unique – there is no standard consortium recipe (if you were curious to know, yes, I experiment with my cooking and rarely follow the exact recipe). And do not forget the secret ingredient (not so secret anymore now): complementarity. As people complement each other in relationships, you should make sure the partners complement each other – so choose wisely if you aim to succeed with your proposal and future project.

Make good use of all available tools

Now let’s talk tools: from Google to your own network to more EU-sophisticated tools, try them all! Keep Google for an initial search – especially when you are looking for partners in other areas than yours. Mind your network – it is gold! – check who would fit the expertise needed and ask around. To narrow it down even more, depending on the type of discipline or sector you would need for your project, there are plenty of tools: the Funding & Tenders Portal “Partner search” function, CORDIS, National Contact Points (NCPs), stand on top of my mind right now. Make these tools your best friends in your next quest for partners. Last but not least, be a project enthusiast and social butterfly: participate in all conferences and brokerage events you are interested in and where you might find your next project partner. Mingle with people at events and pitch your project idea – this will get you closer to your winning consortium.

“Gotta catch ‘em all” and keep them close

In your quest, scout your partners with a concept note – this is where you give an idea on what your project is about and explain to your potential partner what their role would be. This is where you mobilize all your pitching and persuasion skills. Make it catchy and sell it to them – why? Because some partners might be more popular than you thought, so everybody (including competing consortia) will want to be their friends (like those popular kids in high school). The other side of this story is that you should know how to keep them close and engaged after you get them on board. Celebration and chill times do not come when you managed to secure your partnership, but when you successfully submitted your proposal. Engage them and be the “social glue” your consortium needs. It is going to pay off having a committed team once you win that project and will have to implement it for several years (this is also for when you go out for dinners and drinks together).

I cannot wait to see what 2021 brings… Or am I talking too soon? I meant Horizon Europe (hope I did not jinx it already). Until we meet again here in the creative virtual space with updates, stay tuned and join our webinars – updates and some spicy stories on building your winning consortium are coming up soon!

Do you fancy some drama in the meantime? Check out The Consortium Hallow-drama story we cooked up for Halloween:

This blog post will also be published on EMDESK, a collaborative and work management solution for research and innovation projects.


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