Reflection on outreach efforts for Green Deal calls

This post is to share my experience from the last couple of weeks of trying to get us into consortia, with the aim to improve our internal processes.

Last month we mapped the relevant calls. We decided not to pursue anything on our own, rather to “hunt” for the already forming consortia.

The approach we took:

  1. Linkedin campaign and 1:1 meetings. @bojanbobic sent a large number of messages via @alberto’s linkedin (the statistics coming up). To those than answered with interest to know more, he would send an e-mail putting me in cc and giving more info. I think there were more than 100. To those that replied and understood we are not building the proposal on our own, we proposed a meeting. Finally, I had around 8 meetings out of which 1 resulted in joining the consortium (IEECP) and another is likely (Emilia Romagna region) - the only ones who were actually coordinators of the proposal.

  2. we attended two networking events (one organized by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey and another by Climate KIC). During the first event I had seven 1:1 meetings, 1 resulted in joining the consortium (Sabanci University), two discussions are still ongoing but not putting a lot of faith into that considering it’s quite late. After the C-KIC event I had 2 follow up meetings, contacts made by @amelia during the event (organizations also looking for consortia but valuable connections for future). @alberto from his side made a good contact with the Trinity College Dublin and this might result in joining the consortium.

  3. responding to invitations. We received a couple of invitations from our existing contacts, in this way we joined two consortia (C-KIC and Politecnico di Milano). This category also includes responding to the invitations via participants portal. Last month I registered our interest there and we received dozens of e-mails but from people looking for a consortium to join. Last year, this approach resulted in joining consortium for 2 projects (TREASURE and VOICE). This year no luck with that.

  4. reaching out to personal contacts. I reached out to a couple of my contacts (mostly in Croatia), had some meetings but no one is coordinating anything. To my knowledge, we didn’t invest a lost of energy into this approach.

Conclusions from this experience:

  • some negotiations are still ongoing, so don’t want to jump into conclusions early, however I do want to share these reflections while the experience is still fresh. Statistically, this is not bad, we have a chance to conclude partnerships for 6 consortia in total. But generally I think we can be smarter.

  • most of the people we reached out to through linkedin were in the exact same position as we were - looking for a consortium to join. as much as I don’t mind meeting new people and making connections that might be useful for future, I felt I was wasting a lot of time in the moment we didn’t have time to waste. Also I’m not sure it’s good to have three persons involved in this. The people we contact see Alberto’s message on Linkedin, then Bojan’s e-mail then myself during the call. Finally they don’t know who they are talking to and who is responsible for what + it’s very difficult to follow all the e-mail flows and understand who has to respond. All in all, my view is: I don’t think we can “dig” the consortium leaders on linkedin.

  • once we are in the call with the consortium leader, we get in. pitching our methodology is not that difficult, it’s attractive and everyone wants it. So more 1:1 meetings with actual leaders are what we need.

  • networking events worked well. we should invest in those more. it allows us to actually identify the leaders and connect with them directly.

  • participants portal method can be kept (low effort) because we never know who can spot us there.

  • we should be reaching out more to personal contacts and partners in previous proposals.

What else can be done:

  • CORDIS. it’s a valuable resource and previously we have been using it to find projects funded under similar calls. We would then reach out directly to the leaders asking if they are preparing anything new. Especially Universities are interesting here. It requires a bit more time, but compared to time used for Linkedin campaign I think it could be more valuable.

  • joining international networks. We have seen how the C-KIC platform can be helpful to connect with others. We should make us more visible and try finding and joining similar networks, such as EBN. Even if there is a small fee for some of the networking platforms we could try it out.

  • the key: start early. the green deal call preparations came late, also I guess because it wasn’t clear who should lead these efforts. for me it was falling more under EarthOS and I imagined I would have more of the supporting role. In any case, for the upcoming Horizon Europe we start early and we first build upon our existing contacts we trust.

  • main challenge: lack of capacity. we need more people in RezNet or more engagement from the existing team. Already at this moment, considering we might be in 6 new proposals I want to stress the fact I will need help.

Please share your own thoughts, the main aim is to become better in this as a team.

@nadia @noemi @amelia @hugi @matthias @johncoate @MariaEuler @IvanC

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Great work. I agree with everything you write, and shall be cancelling my premium Linkedin account.

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Nice summary. Re linkedin approach, I don’t think it makes sense to throw it in the bin just yet but rather use it for the next round of applications around Horison Europe, but starting from as soon as the consortia are closed this time around.

  1. Tied to a specific event around something we are interested in pursuing (topic and domain of action) rather than just broad outreach to go for funding. Why? Because the event acts as a filter, lots of people join to listen then a subset of those will more or less put themselves and opportunities forward because there is alignment. I had initially proposed this but Alberto pointed out that it was too time intensive or sensitive to do it for this round.

  2. You have to have enough time to develop a conversation into a relationship into pursuing something concrete. And frankly if we are to avoid the kind of chemical partnerships with not enough alignment that we have POPREBEL and to some extent NGI, this is required. At least for our long term sanity and engagement.

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There is also this platform EU CALLS. I will sign us up with the free plan for now.

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Why to drop the account, but not to lower the expectations? What does one know about why people are on LinkedIn? About own (unspecific) visibility? About targeted relations to specific communities? - regards, Martin

I am not dropping the account: I am on Linkedin since 2008. I am downgrading it back from premium to free account. Premium is expensive, 70 EUR per month.

I agree with everything here, @marina! Thanks for writing this up. I especially agree with the point that we need to start much earlier – the process felt rushed and stressful (and that’s just for me, can’t imagine how that was amplified for Marina).

If we start earlier, then those nice chats we had with people also looking to join a consortium will be a lot more fruitful rather than a time waste, because we will have the bandwidth and time to actually put these partners together into a consortium ourselves. It was really clear to me once I started talking to people and from talking to Marina that, given the time we started, joining a mostly formed consortium was the only real viable option.

Capacity is also definitely an issue. Even before getting sick, I didn’t have the bandwidth to do the level of work I needed to do to get this together in the timeframe we had – I had to put a lot on the backburner. If I shifted to working on Edgeryders full-time, this time commitment could be more viable, but I don’t have that capacity only working part-time. This especially means that the “this has to be done now” kind of work is tough to do, which hammers home Marina’s key point about starting early.

All that said, I generally enjoy grantwriting and if there’s less time pressure, it’s something I definitely see myself investing a lot of time in in the future. Expressing preferences from my end, I prefer to either reach out to people I already know/have some kind of connection to, even if we haven’t met formally, or be looped in once someone else has made a connection to someone new — cold calling/emailing is not something I enjoy (so Marina’s conclusion about efficacy is a welcome one for me). The writing itself I am prepared to do serious heavy lifting on, and I’m happy to reach out to academics etc.

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yes…same for me, I cannot be full time due to other commitments so time management in situations when we handle things with tight deadlines is a real challenge.

glad to hear this! expanding the capacity there is really needed, also to take off some burden from Alberto.

additionally, I think this experience of now joining and going through a process of writing several applications, even if we are “just” partners, will be helpful to build the capacity of the team. having an extra one or two persons who could take on my role would also be great for future.

yesterday in the biweekly we agreed we will be dividing work as soon as we confirm partnerships for those green deal calls we are still negotiating.

Well, €70/month that investment needs a return, @alberto, indeed!

Well, that’s obvious. But then again, “much earlier” there is a lot of stuff on our plates, too: review meetings, other proposals to submit, some rest and holidays. Also, following the natural metabolic cycle of this scene also has some advantages. For example, we could attend the C-KIC networking event, which had like 300 people, instead of figuring out ways to reach similar numbers all on our lonesome.

Maybe we could make this more viable by being proactive. I am thinking on an internal meeting on “stuff that closes in the next 12 months”, where some promising calls are singled out by individual RezNet folks, who then start a slow burn. This internal meeting could even be a public event, which is what @nadia wanted to put at the center of the LinkedIn campaign (we ended up not doing that on my insistence. I was willing to compromise the amount of splash such an event would have made in return for speed, i.e. no need for a two-weeks lead to prepare it).

But that creates additional work, that of securing information a year in advance: for example, these calls opened in the period September 22nd-October 9th. We could have started in July, working on EU preparatory documents and betting on the texts of the calls being similar to those preparatory documents, but not much before.

Another solution is simply to slow down, waiting on people to get in touch with us instead of being so proactive. Or a mix of the two.

Apologies for the late reply. This is the table for the Linkedin Outreach campaign.
I tried to include most of the data and present percentage share based on people contacted on Linkedin, people who responded with their e-mail address, and people who responded to the e-mail.
I hope it is comprehensible for everybody.

% of contacted on Linkedin % of responded with email % of responded to email
Number of people contacted via Linkedin 650
Responeded with email address 131 20.15%
Didn’t respond to the e-mail 71 10.92% 54.20%
Responded to the email: 60 9.23% 45.80%
Not interested/Didn’t reach back 23 3.54% 17.56% 38.33%
Future collaboration 28 4.31% 21.37% 46.67%
Meetings scheduled 9 1.38% 6.87% 15.00%
Consortiums joined 1 0.15% 0.76% 1.67%
Consortiums potentially joining 3 0.46% 4.23% 5.00%
Total consortiums 4 0.62% 3.05% 6.67%
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