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How PPPs can add value to your h2020 project – Interview with a consortium partner

September 11 2018

Public-private partnerships across disciplines are a big hit in Horizon 2020 and will continue to be central in the new Horizon Europe programme. But this is not just some EU buzzword, we believe interdisciplinary collaborations will be key to solving some of the biggest challenges faced by science and society today, and it can help make-or-break your project idea. Don’t just take it from us, hear what one of the partners had to say about his experience with working in public-private partnerships.

Dr. Silko Grimm is Head of the Project Management Office at Evonik Nutrition & Care, and he has ample experience working in public-private partnerships. One of them being PRECIOUS, a project supported with on-going project managment by ttopstart, which aims to establish a nanoparticle platform for combinational cancer immunotherapy. We asked him to tell us about his experiences:

What is your experience with participating in public-private partnerships?

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are an increasingly popular way for separate parties to collaborate on large projects to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes that would otherwise be financially inefficient to achieve. My experiences with PPPs has helped me build up a strong network of associates, as well as learning productive ways to enhance the value of my daily work at Evonik. The opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary partnerships gives you an opportunity to directly contribute your individual skills and expertise towards project results that are far greater than you could ever achieve alone.

However, it is important to note that it can take time to figure out how to communicate within the partnership structure. It is not uncommon for complex EU funded projects to have as many as 5-10 different partners, all of which communicate in different ways. There are also many different cultural aspects that influence how your partners on a project work. Even within Europe, there is a lot of cultural diversity. Some things are done very differently in Italy for example, compared to Bulgaria or Germany. However cultural differences are not only related to nationality, there are also many cultural differences that affect how individual universities and companies operate. We all do things in a different way and have different priorities and values. Therefore, it is important to find the right balance that optimizes results across the entire group. In order to do this, it is essential that every team takes the time to develop strong connections with their project colleagues. Team-building activities are one excellent opportunity where you get to know each other better. Once you’ve established effective communication channels within the partnership, you can build the necessary momentum to attain better results in less time. 

What has been the added value of the partnerships?

One of the main benefits of public-private partnerships is that they bring together people and groups with different areas of expertise and skills that benefit all parties. Furthermore, you gain access to the specific areas of expertise for each partner, but also to broader markets in which they operate. This exposure to a diverse array of markets and expertise can be a great advantage. It not only provides you with different approaches and perspectives to address challenges or pursue opportunities that can help you accelerate your path to market.

Did you experience any challenges within the partnership, and how did you overcome these?

Communication between partners is the most common barrier to success for these partnerships. Therefore, it is important to focus on communication from the start, and to have effective systems in place to assign responsibilities, set goals and track progress. In particular, it is critical that you identify the core goals and values that will bind all partners together. Such steps will help the collaboration function much more smoothly. When working on the PRECIOUS project, one of the things that helped strengthen communication between partners was to create small cross-functional sub-teams, where you participate in team-building activities and hold forums where it’s okay to ask those “stupid” questions.

What would be your advice to those who are considering participating in public-private partnerships?

As with almost everything in life, there can be pros and cons to consider. Public-private partnerships can bring a lot of added value to your project. As mentioned before, it gives you access to new expertise, cultural perspectives and markets. It will also help to expand your own professional network that will be beneficial to tap into for other projects in the future. You should always consider how each prospective partner can add incremental value to a project. If the value proposition is clear, then make your decision and fully commit.

Are you considering participating in a public private partnership?

ttopstart’s project managers are specialised in managing consortia and have the tools to ensure good and effective communication between partners. If you are interested in knowing more about how we can work together with you to create sustainable projects with true impact, get in touch with us by filling in the form below.

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