How do you choose your life (EU) partner (part 4)
If you’re a large organization, who regularly receive the offers for the participation in EU project partnerships and you have the possibility to choose among them, just move forward and skip this article.
If you’re a proposal writer and you’re in the position to set-up the consortium of project partners, read on, here are some tips I gathered through the years.
How long does the “marriage” last?
An EU project (let’s think again of my favourite Erasmus+ KA2 projects) can last up to 3 years. Add 6 months to 1 year or more of preparatory work and proposal writing, post-project evaluation period (6 months) and potential review period (up to 7 years). If you summarize these numbers, you quickly reach 10 years. This is a quite significant period of a human’s life, isn’t it? Longer than some couples' relationships.
Project consortium must include at least 3 partners from 3 different countries - this is just one example of the call rules specific to the E+ KA2 projects. The rules of the call usually prescribe the type of the eligible partners, for example, schools, NGOs, SMEs, public institutions etc.
Who you gonna call*? Known or new partners?
Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
If you invite the known partners to your consortium, at least you know their flaws (and strengths, of course). On the other side, if you have cooperated many times with the same partners, the relations can become ‘stale’ and nothing new is added to the projects. No excitement. No new possibilities. No new connections. Same-old-same-old.
What about all new? In one of my previous projects I set-up the consortium of almost all new partners. Never again. The project went well, but it was too stressful to communicate with so many new and unknown people.
So, a balanced mixture of old and new partners is a good idea.
Where can you find your potential partners?
The most obvious way to find partners is through networking, existing partners, friend-of-a-friend. Proven and usual. Bartering? Sure, it’s polite to invite a partner, who included you in the past, if it complements the skills in your consortium.
Bartering? Sure, it’s polite to invite a partner, who included you in the past, if...
But what if you want to add someone new to your consortium?
Specialized partner search engines
Partner and call search: https://eucalls.net
Pros: Partner & call search engine combined. You can be found by declaring your interest in specific call or topic.
Cons: not wide-spread and known tool (1400+ organizations), not a lot of partners
E+ partner search tool: http://eupartnersearch.com
Pros: simple and straightforward. Some years ago I have used it and successfully connected to new partners from PL, LT, BG.
Cons: Only for E+ (900+ organizations), somehow clumsy UI
Pros: validated partners & their projects
Cons: not aware of any cons
Databases of completed projects
Browsing through the compendium of completed projects can be a good way of finding partners that fit your project idea:
E+ project database: http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/projects/
Social media groups for partner search are surely most vibrant and alive of all previously mentioned ways of searching for partners.
Beware of free riders, specialised in everything-that-exists, though.
- Non-specific calls: PROJECTS: Find your international partner (11 000+ members)
- PARTNERSHIP FOR EUROPEAN PROJECTS (7000+ members)
- H2020 and E+ partner search: ERASMUS PLUS : EU Funds for Education, Culture, AudioVisual, Media, Youth & Sport (11 000+ members)
- COSME calls: EU COSME FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES (400+ members)
How do you check the potential partner?
Responsiveness is beside the competency one of the most important properties of the project partners (check the other 5). Why? Well, within an international team, where the most of the communications happen using electronic means of communication, you don’t want to wait for your answers for too long. See some more tips on how to behave during video conferences here.
How do I check the responsiveness of the potential partner? Simply:
I usually send the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) to the new partners at the time of proposal writing and ask for their signature. The time to receive the signed contract is a good predictor of the responsiveness partner within the project. It indicates the elasticity of the internal structures and communication channels of the potential partner.
If it takes 1 week to get the signed NDA from the potential partner, then forget it.
How do you see if someone is desperate to join the partnership? When you publish your call for partners on LI or FB, he/she publicly comments your post: “I have sent you direct message/email, please check it!”
Have I missed something? How do you find your project partners?
This article is a part of mini-series for EU project managers and proposal writers:
Part 4 (this one): How do you choose your life partner (ups, I mean EU project partner)?