Step-by-step advices based on successful cases
Erasmus+ is an EU Programme supporting actions / projects related to many kinds of education, training, youth and support in European countries (EU member and candidate countries). With a budget of €14,7 billion, Erasmus+ Programme provides opportunities millions of people within the context of different actions defined in the Programme Guide . However, due to higher demand than the available budget, the applicants of various actions should carefully design and develop their proposals in order to get them stand out in high competition.
This blog will provide insights into writing a competitive proposal specifically in Key Action 2 (KA2 – Strategic Partnerships in the field of education, training and youth) based on experiences from highly scored and approved projects we have been involved in the last three years. The advices given below are complementary to the criteria set by European Commission and will rather benefit to the individuals / organisations who are thinking about writing a competitive proposal, already have a complete understanding of KA2 Projects’ structure and experience in a project as a partner, but do not know how to start. The potential applicant organisations are always recommended to gain experience as a partner in a KA2 project, before deciding to be the leader. This way, it will be easier for them to conceptualize a project from scratch.
1. Start planning as early as possible
If this will be your very first experience in proposal development, this means you will need more time to complete development than experienced leaders. Be aware that you need time for; drafting a concrete / innovative project idea based on the priorities in the programme, find and contact to the potential partners, make cooperation arrangements and documentation and complete writing the proposal. As in some cases, this process takes longer than expected, mostly due to matters related to forming of partnership, beginners are always recommended to start as early as possible, at least around 4 months ahead of submission deadline.
2. Create the project idea as it fits in your organisation’s expertise and priorities
The first step of all project development processes, start with the idea generation. As a rule, the project idea should address the horizontal and field-specific priorities set in the Programme Guide. In addition to these priorities, the idea must be based on the applicant organisation’s expertise as well as the potential partners’. Focusing only on the programme priorities and creating the project idea by ignoring your organisation’s field of activities and expertise, will most probably result in deficiencies in project concept or problems in project implementation phase, if it gets approved somehow. In order to create a realistic idea, consider the programme priorities which you can address and provide innovative solutions with the current capacity.
For instance: You are a representing a private organisation experienced in development and provision of entrepreneurship trainings in your country. A project idea, based on ‘fostering entrepreneurial mindset development’ will best suit to your field, rather than ‘fostering inter-religious dialogue’. You can be involved in such a project with the second priority though as a partner, by undertaking roles that you can execute without a specific expertise in the field. But developing such a project in a field that you have very limited knowledge, is too risky in terms of convincing evaluators that you can execute this project as its leader and implementing activities not related to your field.
3. Choosing Relevant Partners and Distributing Roles
As a rule, strategic partnerships should involve minimum three organisations from three different Programme Countries (see the Programme Guide for a couple of exceptions). There is no maximum number of partners, but the ideal partnership involves 6 or maximum 7 partners (including applicant organisation). More number of partners means more troubles in execution and project management.
Choosing partners for your project is as important as the creation of project idea. The partnership should involve an appropriate mix of public or private organisations with complementary profile to execute the project in their country where the need for this project is clearly identified.
For instance: If you are developing a project ‘promoting migrants’ integration into society through creation and implementation of basic skills training solutions by using ICT methods’, your partners and your own organisation should justify a complementary profile and sample roles for the development of project results are given as an example below:
- A university department in the field of migration studies – leader of research for the determining the real needs of target groups in terms of basic skills
- A local / regional / national public body experienced in basic skills training provision either to general public or specifically to migrants – leader of the training methodology design
- An ICT / software company with expertise of developing eLearning solutions – leader of developing ICT based training tools
The three partners given above are essential for such a project to be positively evaluated based on the activities and results foreseen. You can choose other partners with the same approach that focuses on specific leadership roles and different fields of education and training or other socio-economic sectors. Be aware of that, the roles should be equally distributed to partners; it is better if each leadership role given to different partners and all partners provide equal efforts to contribute to the development of results and execution of activities.
When choosing partners, keep in mind that one newcomer organisation without an experience in Erasmus+ programme, will bring extra points. So you do not have to choose all partners who have been involved similar projects in the programme.
Another important criteria to follow when choosing partners, is the countries that partners are based. It is better to involve partners all from different countries where the problem, that project is trying to solve, is highly perceived and such an action will be most relevant to create the impact envisaged.
For instance: You are developing the project mentioned above aiming ‘migrants’ integration’. When you start searching partners, you should also consider the countries where migration flows are the highest among other programme countries and integration priorities are utmost importance, such as; Germany, United Kingdom, France, Austria, Turkey, etc.
Choosing partners is versatile; there should be a good representation of complementary profiles and countries with highest needs. Do not be mistaken by choosing partners just because you know them very well and rely on because you have worked before in similar actions. You should rather focus on the project concept and relevant partner profiles, then search ones within your existing network, and if there is no organisation countervailing the expected profile, start searching partners in other partner search channels like; EPALE, Up2Europe or Linkedin groups for Erasmus+, by making announcements by giving information on the expected profile.
By Merve Gül Barut, Consultant
 European Commission, Erasmus+ Programme Guide, Version 1 (2018): 25/10/2017