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Project idea formulation

October 29, 2012

In proposal development, the first natural step is to formulate an idea and find a suitable call. There are basically two ways of doing it. The first one, recommended for beginners, is to have a basic project idea and search for a call. The second method, used by more experienced proposers is to screen the calls and progressively formulate project ideas.   In any case, the project idea has to match perfectly to the open call; otherwise, it will be rejected as out of scope.

In case of EU projects, you should also answer two questions:

  • Is our idea innovative? For instance, FP7 is designed for innovative project ideas or that have some kind of novelty with respect to the state-of-the-art in a given scientific field. This novelty element has to be present in our project.
  • Is our idea of European interest? All project ideas in FP7 have a European dimension; they were proposed because there was a need for European partnership and collaboration to achieve the objectives. Our results have to have an impact and added value on a European level.

Well, there is a third method of project formulation that we have not mentioned yet: When you get invited by someone to a consortium and you support with your ideas and point of view the formulation of the project idea.

Formulation of a project idea includes:

  • Tailoring the idea to the targeted topic of the work programme;
  • Describe the objectives of the project – fitting the specific objectives of the topic and the overall objectives of the relevant EU policies;
  • Set up the project implementation phases and structure of the project – what activities you need to achieve the objectives and who will complete these activities (what expertise/knowledge is needed);
  • Describe the end results (project outputs) and the impact of the project (long-term outcome) corresponding to the expected impact of the work programme;
  • Highlight the added value, the innovative element of your project;
  • Based on the above, describe what (type of) organisations you need in the partnership;
  • Write down all of the above in 1-2 pages and you have the project concept, answering the main questions: WHAT? WHY? HOW? WHO?

Good luck!

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