How do you turn your idea into something worth funding (part 1)
Last week we (me and ‘my’ trainers) have finished two training programmes for EU project managers (one for a research institute and the other for the open public at the Chamber of commerce) and I'd like to share some key points with you.
First one is about shaping the project idea. With participants of our training programme, we always stuck on the following issue: "How do I convert my project idea into a language EU evaluators will understand and fund?"
Each of 7 billions of Earth habitants has at least 10 ideas per day - can you imagine how many ideas this makes per year? So, we are not short of ideas, but we are short of relevant, well-shaped project ideas.
Sometimes people ask me: “I have a great idea about X, do you think it’s any good?”
The most I can say is: “I don’t know. It depends how do you pack and present it.”
The process of converting your idea into something that could be funded seems pretty straightforward and obvious, but it requires a little bit of thinking and research.
When you brainstorm your project idea it usually grows wildly, with many branches in all directions. Firstly, let it grow.
Then it’s time for pruning. You should adapt your language to something a project evaluator will understand.
Before you even think of searching the appropriate EU project application form, even before you start preparing a logical framework for a project, start by answering these questions. Usually people already have solutions in their minds, but in that case, you have to work back to the root issue:
1. What is the pain point and who has it?
- The people of our cities have problems with respiratory diseases.
- The unemployment rate of the youngsters is X%.
- Too many breaches and thefts reported by cryptocurrencies owners.
2. What is the reason behind the pain point?
Examples (related to previous pain points):
- Bad air quality due to a large number of cars and trucks.
- The education system that does not prepare youngsters for today’s job demands.
- Current methods for storing cryptocurrencies are not safe.
3. Who says so?
Support your pain point claim with existing research, statistics or make your own research.
- Air quality measurements from 1900-2018 published at Eurostat …
- National statistics from countries …
- Own research among X business owners of cryptocurrencies...
4. How would you solve it?
- by developing a high voltage electric motor which will replace diesel engines in existing public transport buses in cities X,Y, Z...
- by developing a curriculum and trainings for 500 young entrepreneurs from countries X, Y, Z...
- by developing an innovative crypto wallet for companies.
5. Which EU2020 headline targets will your solution contribute?
- Our solution will contribute to EU 2020 headline targets: Climate change and energy /- greenhouse gas emissions 20% lower than 1990 levels and 20% increase in energy efficiency
- Our solution will contribute to: Education/rates of early school leavers below 10% and Poverty and social exclusion/ at least 20 million fewer people in – or at risk of – poverty/social exclusion
- Our solution will contribute to: Research and development (R&D) / 3% of the EU's GDP to be invested in R&D
6. What is the concrete product or service?
- A highly efficient electric motor for buses and a replacement programme
- Training content, blended trainings and national training centres
- A crypto-safe for companies (HW+SW product), a business model and a service programme
So, now we have the basics covered and next time, we’ll go a little bit deeper: we'll define some project aims, objectives and intellectual outputs (for example, Erasmus KA2 projects).
This article is a part of mini-series for EU project managers and proposal writers: