A few months ago, Wouter Hustinx was awarded European funding, and what’s more, for the first EU project he had ever written! “The project development workshop “Education goes digital” was his road to success,” says the head of the expertise center on educational innovation at PXL University College in Hasselt, Belgium. Today, Wouter Hustinx shares his best tips for a successful project development workshop and a good start to EU funding.
The “Education goes digital” workshop was organised in December 2015 by West Finland European Office, Baden-Württemberg, Lifelong Learning Platform, Earlall and the Liaison Agency Flanders-Europe (vleva). The initiative was continued this year under the title “In 2017, Skills will be key,” to support the development of projects under the New Skills Agenda for Europe adopted earlier this year by the European Union as roadmap in education and social policy.
The Project Development Workshop 2016 will take place on 8-9 December. You can follow the Live Stream of the 9 December morning panel discussion and participate on Twitter using the hashtag #PDW16!
What was the added value of the project development workshop for your project proposal?
The project development workshop came at exactly the right time. In 2012, I started working on the TABLIO-project on the use of tablets in classrooms. We discovered that the biggest potential of tablets is differentiation within the class. In 2015, we decided to do a follow-up project on this topic. Together with European partners, our centre of competence within PXL University College tries to find out which techniques and methodologies work. Ultimately, we want to support teachers in the best way possible to use tablets for differentiation and inclusion.
“The project development workshop helped when Google failed”
When I heard about the project development workshop, I was looking for European partners for this project, and I challenge you to find partners by googling departments of teacher training! There is no chance that you will find project partners in this way. A matchmaking system is therefore essential and a project development workshop such as this one is a unique opportunity to meet the partners you are really looking for. For me, this was the highway to Europe. Because it was my first time writing a European project, I never expected it to be approved. Was it a lucky shot? The future will tell. But I am confident that this is a quality project and that we will be able to bring it to a fruitful end.
What does it entail to participate in a project development workshop as a project leader?
I submitted my project idea and was selected for the workshop. A few weeks later I received a list with interested partners. From that list, I chose about 10 partners with whom I had a round table during the workshop. Afterwards, I wrote a short description of the project. Based on this, every interested partner formally decided to participate or not. Afterwards, I held a Skype-conversation which each partner separately and one with the entire group. With that information, I prepared the funding application. After approval by all partners, I submitted it.
“At the workshop, I met 5 partners for my consortium”
During the workshop itself, I met about 10 interested partners. By the end, only one of them was part of the consortium. But I nonetheless found all the other partners through the project development workshop: two of them found the project description online and contacted me by e-mail; the other two partners were contacts from participants at the round table. Because it was my first European project, I had to start from scratch. I didn’t know any partners from previous projects, but thanks to this trajectory, I was able to compose a good consortium anyway.
European funding comes with advantages and disadvantages. What should someone who submits a project proposal for the first time know before they start?
Two things: there are a lot of administrative rules and European funding sometimes doesn’t cover all actual costs. We initially asked for €373.500 European support and received the final sum of €343.000. €70.000 of this budget goes to PXL University College. For a project duration of 2,5 years, this is not a huge amount. Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships are usually funded at 70%. But we will have to co-finance more than 30% to cover all costs. So don’t think that you hit the jackpot when you are awarded European funding! But if you want to share and reinforce your expertise, it still is an excellent opportunity.
What is your best tip for a successful project development workshop?
Be well prepared and come to the workshop with a clear idea of how your project should look like. A project development workshop is not the place to brainstorm, because time is limited. The goals and most important actions should already be clear. The workshop provides the opportunity to negotiate this. And most of all: go for it! Because international cooperation is the future. We are definitely participating again in this year’s project development workshop.
Wouter Hustinx participated in the project development workshop “Education goes digital” on 4 December 2015. It was organised by West Finland European Office, Baden-Württemberg, Lifelong Learning Platform, Earlall and the Liaison Agency Flanders-Europe (vleva). A similar project development workshop, “In 2017, Skills will be Key”, organised by the same organisations plus Île-de-France Europe takes place on 9 December 2016.
Are you looking for Flemish partners for your European project? Send your project description, the kind of partners wanted, the deadline and a contact to email@example.com. And create your account on en.vleva.eu/user to receive your invitation to our next project development workshop.