As you fill out the grant for your latest EU research project, you come to the communications, dissemination and exploitation section. You quickly type out a short description of how you plan to create a website and use Twitter to Tweet about your results. You close the file and send off the application a few days later. When you don’t win the proposal, it’s likely you won’t even think about the communications, dissemination and exploitation section.
Communications, dissemination and exploitation are areas that are often overlooked by researchers, but they are vitally important to one of the core requirements of EU funding grants – that the research carried out within Europe has IMPACT.
Impact might be a publication submitted to a peer-reviewed journal (an example of dissemination), or a video that you create to explain your results to children (communication) or it might be that you managed to create a start-up and monetise the results of your project (exploitation). Basically, the impact of your research project is the effect that it will have on the world.
But what exactly does EU mean by communication, dissemination and exploitation? How can you make sure that your grant proposal addresses these requirements? These are some of the questions that we are going to respond in this article.
What is communication?
Communication in the context of EU funding refers to the promotion of project results to a wider, generalised public – a non-specialist audience. Since these projects are funded by public money, it’s essential that we let the public know what we are doing. Citizens should be able to find out what national and European institutions are doing with their taxes.
There’s a variety of ways we can communicate with the public. One of the most impactful might be targeting local, national and/or international media. Creating a website is indeed a form of communication, though now this is almost a basic requirement for every project and is not likely to get you extra brownie points!
Communication comes before dissemination and exploitation because you can communicate even before your project gets results. Start by sharing your project’s objectives with others. Engage in outreach activities, such as beach cleanups (especially if your project relates to marine litter), essentially hosting events to inform people about your research goals. Consider contributing an article to a magazine or perhaps even launching a TikTok account! The possibilities are endless and the communication part of EU funding grants is an opportunity for you to be creative.
A communication plan, clearly mapping out what communications activities you plan to do over the lifetime of your project, is essential for a winning proposal. With proper organisation and foresight, you will be able to define, monitor and fulfil a variety of communications objectives successfully. A few elements to consider within your communication plan are audience (who do we want to reach), the message (which are the key message we need to transfer) and the channels (where are we going to communicate our messages). Once those aspects are identified, we can develop our communication plan.
What is dissemination?
The goal of dissemination is to inform stakeholders, including peer researchers, policymakers, potential users, and industry, about the results of your project.
Most of the time, these activities include organising events to present your results to your peers, writing scientific articles, taking part in conferences within your field or preparing a public report. This type of outreach is, by its nature, more technical and goes into more detail.
By reaching out to this specific audience, you ensure that changemakers know about the latest developments you’ve made. That, in turn, can spur impact. For example, if a policymaker reads your report and acts on it, then you’ve had a real-world effect. Similarly, if another researcher uses your research to take their project to the next level, that’s also a real-world effect. As soon as a project has its first results, dissemination efforts can begin. What is exploitation?
When talking about exploitation regarding EU projects, we are referring to using research results. Very often, when we think about exploitation, we think about commercialisation of research results – but that’s not all that exploitation is. Commercialisation is a very important aspect of exploitation, but exploitation can also be the development of a NGO for instance, or a position paper, or otherwise using research results in a real-world context. It is a way for researchers to demonstrate that their work had a real impact on the society that funded their project. A business or exploitation plan can be a great tool to achieve your goals and take the results of your research further. Free support services, like the Horizon Results Booster, can help you develop an exploitation plan.
Horizon Results Booster offers, among other services, support to projects in exploiting their research results and increasing researchers’ capacity to improve their exploitation strategy.
How Meta Group can help you to achieve impact via communication, dissemination and exploitation
With almost 30 years of experience, Meta Group is a reliable partner to help you with your dissemination, communication and result exploitation activities. During the last three years, we have been managing Horizon Results Booster (HRB), a programme that helps EU-funded research projects understand how to achieve impact with their results. The project, funded by the European Commission, has successfully delivered 600 services for researchers aiming to take their projects further. Horizon Results Booster offers three different services regarding dissemination and exploitation activities. Those services involve:
- Portfolio Dissemination & Exploitation Strategy:
🔸Identifying and creating the portfolio of Research & Innovation project results (module A)
🔸Creating the portfolio of results; design and execute a portfolio dissemination plan (module B)
🔸Improving existing exploitation strategy (module C)
- Tailor made support services to develop a business plan
- Assistance, coaching and mentoring for go-to-market activities.
META Group has an extensive experience in supporting EU funded projects towards exploitation and use of results gained providing services to FP7 and H2020 projects within three important framework contracts. Moreover, META Group has the know-how to support the definition of viable business models for the adoption of results stemming from R&D projects.
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