International cooperation is at the heart of Horizon Europe; for most calls for proposals, you will need to apply as a team of at least three partner organisations from different Member States or Associated Countries. However, building a winning consortium is no easy task! Here are five tips to keep in mind if you’re just getting started:

1. Start early

It’s important that you give yourself plenty of time to build a consortium. This will allow you to speak with numerous organisations to ensure you get the very best people on board for your project.

Where possible, we recommend starting the consortium-building process before calls are even announced. It is worth familiarising yourself with the Horizon Europe strategic plan, which sets the strategic orientations for research and innovation investments in the programme’s first four years. In addition, work programmes set out funding opportunities under Horizon Europe and can help you anticipate upcoming calls. From here, you can start building out a network of relevant organisations.

Tip: Think about the time needed to prepare the bid. The more partners, the longer this will take!

2. Use your network

Your network is the best place to start looking for potential project partners! Firstly, consider whether you have existing collaborators who can help you deliver the project. Not only this, but do your existing collaborators have contacts who can help?

Tip: Previous (successful) collaborations indicate your consortium work well together, therefore mitigating some of the risks associated with the project.

… But don’t be afraid to look beyond it!

While your network is a great place to start, it’s important that you don’t just work with your friends. If they have the necessary skills and experience – great! If not, you should look outside of your network to find organisations that better fit the project.

One way to find new partners is through the built-in Partner Search tool on the European Funding and Tenders Portal. Organisations can search for potential partners for collaborative projects through the partner search page (link this) and through specific topic pages.

Other places to find partners online include Crowdhelix, an Open Innovation network for organisations seeking Horizon Europe funding, and LinkedIn groups. We would also recommend participating in Info Days and brokerage events where possible, as they are a great way to network and form new collaborations.

Tip: Short on time? You can publish your own Partner Search request on the EU Funding and Tenders Portal with details of what you are looking for.

3. Keep the budget in mind

The size of the consortium will be impacted by the size of the grant available. You need to ensure that you have a sufficient budget to fund the number of partners involved in the project. All partners will also need to be aware of the grant amount ceiling so they can construct their work plans in line with the money available.

Tip: If the budget is stretched, you may need to consider scaling back the number of partners involved in the project.

4. Keep your end objectives in mind

Before you approach potential partners, you should have a clear understanding of what it is you want to do. This way, you will know exactly who to approach and can ensure that the consortium brings together the necessary expertise to fulfil the project’s end objectives.

Tip: Consider the evaluation criteria – in what way does each of the partners contribute to the project? Do they each have a valid role, and adequate resources in the project to fulfil that role?

5. Manage expectations from the very start

As the project coordinator, your role is to manage the expectations of all partners. We recommend:

  • Discussing roles and responsibilities, in terms of both writing the proposal and delivering the project.
  • Ensuring all partners agree on the budget. As the project coordinator, you should have the final say.
  • Discussing the likelihood of success. All partners should recognise that EU funding calls are extremely competitive and even excellent teams aren’t guaranteed to succeed.
  • Ensuring all partners have access to a project management and delivery handbook.

Tip: Organise a face-to-face meetup if you can! It’s important that all partners get to know each other to ensure the project runs smoothly.

How can RedKnight help?

RedKnight can help you identify potential project partners as part of our retained consultancy package. You can find more information here. Or, if you’ve already formed a consortium and are looking for bid writing support, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us to arrange a free consultation.