How to get started with EU collaborative research

Getting a foot into the door of European collaborative research funding can seem quite challenging particularly for talented young scientists which try to establish themselves within a research field. However, there are well-proven ways to get connected and involved, some of which are perhaps more ‘technical’ and some others less. Both require a ‘science networking’ effort all the same. It is advisable that ‘beginners’ seek to get involved in a project consortium as a mere partner (instead of initiating and coordinating themselves an entire collaborative project). Once the first steps towards networking and collaboration are successfully taken, participation in EU funded programmes often opens new opportunities for further projects and other activities.
Foremost, and perhaps most naturally, the proactive researcher should - when looking for potential partners for a collaborative project - scan the usual common research output / activities / infrastructures (publications, international conferences, year-long collaborations between institutions or departments etc.) of his or her field for signals on existing or upcoming projects. This being stated, many consortia naturally develop from personal scientific relationship between peers, which logically hints at the great potential of the informal contacts as a source for successful project activities.
Regarding the ‘technical’ side, it is worthwhile to make use of data base tools provided by the EU or the National Contact Points to identify potential consortium members:

  • EU project databases: searching for keywords gives reliable insights into projects and individual researchers / consortia associated with relevant topics in the FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes. Interestingly, many projects lead to follow-up proposals which may offer an opportunity to join as a new partner.
             ⇒ Search for EU funded Projects and  Project partners
  • European Information Days: The European Commission regularly holds central information or brokerage events on new calls of the FP7 thematic programmes. These meetings include also very useful partnering platforms and presentations of individual project proposals.
             ⇒ FP7 Events
  • The National Contact Points (NKS) of national research ministries offer another valuable source of information by organising information and partnering events on a national scale and by publishing newsletters that contain relevant information about the calls and ongoing projects.
            ⇒ Where to get Support?
  • There are various online projct partner platforms, either for the whole framework programme or for specific topics:
            ⇒ Partnering Platforms

Networking is also essential for successful postdoc fellowships and grants (described in detail in the “Young Scientists” section). On the one hand, it is important to establish networks with the receiving host institution and its support offices, on the other hand to maintain contacts within in the research field in order to plan ahead for a potential return phase or the next career step after the usual two-year funding period.

The EU Regional Office also provides support and information about further networking opportunities.

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