Every call needs a mix of partners in order to fill its requirements, but finding the right partner is often easier said than done. Many researchers find it difficult to know where to start the search for new research partners. Indeed, searching for partners can be quite time consuming, especially with limited time and resources.
1. 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 needfor you project. I am emphasizing need as each project is unique – there is no standard consortium 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.
2. 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 our 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. This may be a bit difficult now, but mingling is also possible online! Professional networks like LinkedIn and online events are an excellent way to find people with same interests.
3. "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).
This article is written in a cooperation with our valued partner Europa Media Trainings.