Two minutes Tuesday #1

Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership - How to find a successful project idea: 5 questions you have to ask yourself.

Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash

We are Learnable, a community aimed at implementing innovative educational methodologies. We have previously been involved in more than 80 Erasmus+ projects. We consider this Programme a great opportunity for developing innovation and research for education and training.

In this article, we will show you how to define a successful project idea for an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership.

You probably already have a project idea in mind and you don’t know if it is viable. Maybe you already submitted your proposal receiving a low score on the project “relevance” (which means a weak project idea) and want to improve it. In that case this checklist will be useful to you.

Based on previous experience we have created a checklist based on the following questions:

1. Will the project solve a problem?

If your project idea does not address a problem it will have a lower chance of approval due to a reduced impact on the target groups involved. So the right thing to do is to start with the problem, not the solution.

A good definition of the problem serves as a guiding light for all the other project elements: target groups, objectives, expected results and impact. Starting with the problem allows you to explore the approaches implemented so far for meeting similar problems, lessons learned and existing tools.

How to understand if the problem is the right one?

There are a lot of techniques to find and assess a “problem” and we will introduce them in the next articles.

Rule number one is that “good” problems are simple and easy to understand. If you need more than two lines to describe it, probably you should focus a bit more.

An example could be: How might we improve VET trainers competences in delivering training for e-leaders?

2. Is the problem relevant for the EU Commission and the Programme you want to apply for?

The problem selected must be relevant for the EU Commission. The EU programmes are implemented to foster some actions.

Based on different EU programmes you can find specific Programme Guides describing the priorities to be addressed. For example here you can find the latest Erasmus+ Programme guide (2021 is yet to be published). You can find some general priorities and some other specific to different sectors (School, Youth, VET, Higher Education, Adult, Sport, Jean Monnet).

Considering our example “How might we improve VET trainers competences in delivering training for e-leaders? “ we can find the following priorities:

       Innovative practices in a digital era (transversal) at page 101 of the Erasmus+ Programme Guide and

       introducing systematic approaches to, and opportunities for, the initial and continuous professional development of VET teachers, trainers and mentors (VET specific) p. 104.

3. Is the problem real, actual and relevant for all the partner countries and the other European countries?

Now you have a problem to be solved and it is in line with the EU priorities of the programme you want to apply. The next step is to be sure that this problem is common to all countries you want to be involved in the project and, hopefully, to the whole of Europe.

You have different tools to check if the problem you have is wide-spread in Europe including statistics, reports and general trends.

Following our example above we have found an e-leadership index created on behalf of the European Commission, Directorate General GROW – Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs which clearly defines which countries have this problem (low e-leadership performances) and which don’t.

If your answers to this first round of questions were “Yes, definitely!” you can continue:

4. Are there other similar initiatives in the partner countries or Europe?

One of the key elements of the projects funded with European funds is innovation. If other organisations have already implemented similar projects in previous years, your project idea may be seen as less innovative. Let’s consider that the more relevant and wider the problem, the more difficult it will be to find an innovative way to solve it. Probably, many organisations, even governments or the European Commission itself, have already tried to solve it.

The problem should be so wide to be strongly relevant all over Europe, and “flexible” enough to be solved in an innovative way.

In case of Erasmus+ the European Commission is sharing a database with all the projects funded and its outcomes called Erasmus+ project results.

5. Does the project idea have the right resources to succeed?

Finally, you should consider if your project idea can be implemented with the resources you have in terms of time, budget and expertise. A successful project idea can be implemented at its best with the resources the EU Programme and the partner organisations make available for it.

To find a project idea fitting with the principles and priorities of European Programmes is probably the most difficult part of the entire process of submitting a project proposal. Our suggestion is to start from your sector, work and environment to analyse problems and needs

We are working on the next Erasmus + call. If you want to be our partner or have a proposal to be developed, get in touch.

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