Finding Partners for Projects

This short guide will give you ideas how you can find partners to work with on a project.

If you are just starting out on project work, it can be a good idea to find partners who are already writing project bids and team up with them.

If you have an idea and need more people to join it, use this guide to find them.

Finding partners for your research project

Using Research Professional

The University subscribes to the research funding search site

Things you can do with Research Professional:

  • Search for funding on a particular theme
  • Find out what grants a funding body has available
  • Get emails sent to you about particular funds
  • Find out the latest research news

Step by step guide on how to find funds using Research Professional

Research Professional provides a guide to  set up your own Opportunities Alert which highlight when funding in your research area comes up.

Online funding systems needing Research Services approval

A number of external funding organisations use online sites to upload funding applications. Some of these sites require a bid to be signed off by Research Services as part of your application process.

This includes Je-S. This site provides electronic application forms for the following funds: AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, STFC, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI)

To apply for funding on Je-S you need to set up an account. You can do this here:

Once you have requested an account Research Services must confirm you are a member of staff at Staffordshire University before you can get started.


In addition Research Services also acts as approver on the following:

Royal Society (E-GAP)

British Academy (E-GAP2)

Leverhulme Trust

European Commission (Participant Portal)

When you are submitting a bid to these funds you need to make sure you leave enough time for the Research Services to review and submit your project after you have pressed submit. We work to the same application deadline as you.

Request a Fund Search for your research idea

Staffordshire University subscribes to a website which can help find thousands of open funds for research projects. is free for all staff to use. However, sometimes you need a bit of expert help to get the right results. Research Services are able to help by providing bespoke searches for research funding.


The team will use their in-depth knowledge of research funding to identify one/or a collection of potential funds which may be suitable for your project. These will be sent for you to look through, and if necessary and one to one meeting can be arranged to discuss the options in more detail and make sure you are applying for the most suitable fund.


To access this service all you need to do is complete the form below to give us some details of what you want to do and email it to

Download Form for Fund Search Request 


How to strengthen the quality of your bids?


The development of a robust full application is an important element of any project, essential for the approval of funding and as an evolving tool to measure, control and evaluate delivery.

A quality bid is one of the outputs of a strategic approach to project development – the strategy and budget plan underpinning the project are one of the key elements of a successful bid.

Step 1: To build up a strong efficient environment as a background for quality projects.

  • Network to create long-lasting links and to promote the University externally : Make yourself known regionally, nationally and at a European level or more: Network with lobbying organisations, potential partners and funding authorities. Target national or international events and trainings.
  • Understand and target the University and Faculty’s priorities and plans for future: make sure the project you are developing fits the overall plan, as you will need to demonstrate it in your bid.
  • Identify and communicate with key members of staff who will be involved in your projects. Training on funding opportunities might be an option to be considered.
  • Learn lessons from rejected bids: have and ask for feedback from funding contacts about the reasons for their rejection.


Step 2: Identification and development of the project

  • Assess the demand for the project and collect evidence to demonstrate this demand (from a beneficiary point of view as well). Depending on the size of the project, this could take the form of a report from a third party – either an independent study, or a verification of in-house findings.
  • Give evidence of market failure, and explain why the project should be funded by the public sector in general. What is preventing the private sector from solving this problem or exploiting this opportunity?
  • Build up the right team* for the project to be developed and implemented. Make up your team strategically: gathering the right people is vital for creative ideas to construct the content of the project and to share the administrative tasks.

*TIP: Aspects of the team to consider: Interdisciplinary (cross departmental?), collaborative (scholars from other Universities?), other groups external to Higher Education (such as museum, schools, community groups, public policy bodies?). Note that external groups will bring expertise, resources and sometimes financial aid.


Step 3: Identifying the right fund and developing the bid

  • Contact the external project team: Once you have defined your project [it is your project that determinates the fund you will apply for, not the other way around], choosing the right funding programme that fits the project specifications is not an easy task. The External Project Team is your key contact within this step, and will conduct the funding search for you, as well as the bid writing if needed. Please note that bids above £100,000 need the Executives approval. Some online process needs the EPT approval (i.e. Je-S British Academy, Wellcome Trust).
  • Inform the team on the fund modalities. The external project team will also support you in this step. Make sure the persons involved in the project/bid development are aware deadlines, modalities, requirements and criteria of the fund. As well as the audit requirements and reporting requirements if the bid is successful.
  • Create convenient ways of working in order to move the project forward: One or two key people are needed at this stage, to drive the project forward. Develop an agreed timetable with all academics/partners involved for the bid development, with key milestones and clear deadlines for matching the submission deadline. The external project team will help you in defining a time scale for submitting the grant application for concrete to be achieved.
  • Sort out the bid budget: contact your faculties finance staff early to sort out the budget and benefit from their understanding of University’s approach to Full Economic Costing (FEC). Identify the match funding available, which can be from other national or local public funders and private match funders. it can also be in-kind (staff time).
  • Bid writing: the External Project Team can support you. Give enough time to write the bid (drafting and rewriting), make sure the project is compliant with any criteria specified in the relevant grant/call template, and describe how the project supports any relevant internal, regional, national and European plans/strategies/projects.

*TIP: Write a first draft of the whole bid in “bullet point” format, and circulate it to colleagues and collaborators for comments, then collect any additions and changes. Contact the funding body/main contact for a first submission of the draft to get their advice (when permitted).

Don’t forget to identify key milestones, to avoid any delays or key elements:

  • Funding Approval
  • Contract Signature (if applicable)
  • Key deliverable milestones
  • Completion of deliverables
  • Completion of benefits monitoring
  • Payments Complete (note possible retentions for capital projects)
  • Project Close
  • Independent project audit and evaluation
  • Please ensure that both capital and revenue milestones are included.


And don’t give up if the bid is not approved. Get feedback from the funding body and rewrite/rethink your project to be ready to the next call for proposal.  You will be known then and expected to bid again, with a better quality bid.

September’s Wider Outlook is here!

Wider Outlook – Funding, Policy updates and Research


Welcome to September’s Wider Outlook—the team have chosen the theme of working with Horizon 2020 and SMEs for this month. We have identified and created a number of articles related to this topic.

Once again, current funding opportunities remain part of our daily blog, and  individual opportunities are circulated to relevant groups as a bespoke service.

This edition includes:

  • a report back from the UK Research Office (UKRO) annual conference highlighting key issues for the university
  • the background and programme for our annual UKRO conference on November 20th
  • European Commission Regional funds and our internal champion
  • Intellectual Property and H2020
  • What is an SME?

Do continue to use our fantastic Funding Calendar enjoy this edition, and as ever contact us with any comments, ideas or suggestions at

The External Projects Team: Jose, Holly, Esther, Chris and Margaret


UK Research Office (UKRO) annual conference, Bristol

The UK research office (UKRO) represents all the UK research councils in Brussels, providing guidance and advice to the UK university sector as they bid for EU research funding.The conference provided thoughts on issues the UK research community could address and improve.The full programme and presentations for the annual conference can be accessed here:

The conference emphasised that H2020 is not business as usual, in that there is a distinct move away from pure research to addressing societal issues and challenges – such as the ageing population, and the financial crisis. This approach brings in formally a wider range of disciplines, for example the social sciences and humanities, SSH. It also brings in a wider range of sectors. In particular the Small and Medium Sized Enterprise sector (SME) who are the focus within H2020 for bringing the outcomes of research to market.

Key themes and challenges for the university sector arising from the conference are as follows:

  • Mainstreaming SSH and innovation
  • Joining up H2020 better to domestic programmes – there is a government science and innovation strategy due in the autumn that is designed to bring the two together
  • Linking H2020 to the structural funds (UK has an allocation of £11bn for to Local Enterprise Partnerships to prioritise –of which there is £800m allocated to innovation – particularly for taking research outcomes to market)
  • Developing links to business –SMEs and making the funds accessible

h2020 business

Particular challenges for universities in relation to working with business are:

      • How to find the right businesses for universities to work with
      • Questions of why businesses don’t collaborate internationally –linked to Intellectual Property; How to deal with IP rights in H2020 –in the past industry have been reluctant to sign up to EC requirements. See our IP article below.
      • Questions of why businesses don’t collaborate internationally linked to finding the right partners
      • Under the first SME call –UK came 3rd in terms of numbers applications (after Spain and Italy) and second in numbers of approvals.



Programme for our annual UKRO conference in November

We have planned the date early for the University’s annual European funding event this year, so you can book a place before your diary fills up.

We are especially delighted to welcome both Jane Watkins, National Contact Point for SMEs in Horizon 2020 to the conference alongside Błażej Thomas our UKRO adviser.

Be a Part of European Funding’

Thursday 20 November 2014   09:00-16:30

LT114/116 Ashley Building, Leek Road, Stoke on Trent

Morning Programme

09:00-10:30 – SME involvement in H2020 – How researchers can work with businesses and other non-academic sectors under the different Horizon 2020 programmes. Błażej Thomas, UKRO 

10:30-12:00 – Marie Sklodowska Curie funding –  An overview of the fund, what we can achieve with it, and the level of detail required for an application. Błażej Thomas, UKRO

 12:00- 13:00 Networking Lunch

Afternoon Programme

Information and Networking session for Businesses and University Staff

 13:00-14:00 Presenting the Horizon 2020 SME instrument. Jane Watkins, National Contact Point for SMEs in Horizon 2020 

Throughout the afternoon

12:00-16:30 –One to One Sessions with Jane Watkins and Błażej Thomas

Book a one to one session with our European specialists to get inside knowledge on developing your European Project.

Get individual advice on which conferences to attend to meet people, which EU policies you should be focusing on, how to find partners, how to develop your bid and more.

Businesses interested in getting involved with European funded projects are invited to come to the University to find out how the programmes work and talk to academics about how they can collaborate on projects.

The University has lead and partnered on many European projects. It is a great way for businesses to develop their European networks and to get funding to develop a new idea to improve your business.

To book your place for any or all of these sessions email

2013-12-11 14.07.39

The External Projects Team at the 2013 UKRO event


European regional funds and our internal champion

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are the main funds to support to growth and jobs across the EU. They are allocated regionally, to help develop new services and new products within an area.

The 2014-2020 allocation for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent area is worth £138.4 million, and it has a 60% intervention rate. It comprises the European Regional Development Fund, ERDF (£83m) and of the European Social Fund, ESF (£55.3m). In addition, £3.13m is available to support investment for rural enterprise.

Priorities have been set out around these 4 themes:

  •  Innovation (ERDF),
  •  SME competitiveness (ERDF),
  • Place and environment (ERDF),
  • Skills, employment and social inclusion (ESF).

4 high value added sectors have been identified within the area: advanced materials, advanced manufacturing and energy, digital and creative industries.

Marie Pandolfo, who is covering Emma Davies’s maternity leave within Enterprise and Commercial Development, acts as the reference point for ERDF.

The University is likely to seek to develop a range of new infrastructures and facilities (Open Innovation platform, incubation space, shared research laboratories), as well as more support for enterprise along with a particular focus on the Creative industries.

If you have any project ideas or requests, please contact


T: 01785 353831.

Marie is listing all project ideas in order to get ready for the first call for proposals in the next few months, and to nurture the ESIF framework documents, which are still being discussed.





Open Access

This is a summary of our Open Access briefing note which examines the meaning according to the EU Commission and the Research Councils

For the full note see Note on open access

Open access, as understood by the European Commission, or the Research Councils, is the free and open access to the outputs of publicly-funded research, usually in the form of academic publications.  Open access is required by the funders to promote social and economic benefits as well as aiding the development of new research.

The Research Councils’ general policy is that research and data should also be available to potential users in business, charitable and public sectors, and to the general tax-paying public, on the basis that research funded by the tax payer should be available and accessible to the tax payer.

There is an inevitable tension where the Commission and the Research Councils and other public funders wish to encourage publication of results and research data.  However, on general projects and Horizon 2020, the policy has included the taking into account of legitimate concerns in relation to privacy, commercial interests and rights of access to large data volumes.  There appears to be an attempt to encourage a culture of sharing scientific and other publications, and permit adequate protection of rights of parties in research and research data.

Learn more, In practical terms however – the European Commission’s IP help desk will look at draft agreements and give comments on proposals

Learn more, at the IPR webinar September 3rd 11-30 to 13-00.



What is an SME?

Working with SMEs? -here is the European Commission’s SME definition



IP Protection for all businesses – great and small

From little acorns, great oafs do grow; IP protection is important for businesses and other entities both big and small.

An interesting short article is attached concerning IP protection, for small businesses but translatable to other entitities commercial and non-commercial.

An additional reference to the suggestions contained in the above article (registering trademarks and distinctive logos, patent protection for Software Apps, and protection by asserting copyright and design rights in Software), would be to highlight the continuing success of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. For multitrack cases (complex legal issues cases) the IPEC has a limit on damages of up to £500,000 – which Court can hear trademark, patent and copyright infringement cases. Costs orders will be made which are proportionate to the nature of the dispute and subject to a cap of no more than £50,000. This arguably puts resolution of intellectual property disputes within reach of small and medium sized enterprises, especially in meritorious cases with a considerable sum in dispute.

The small claims track is for suitable claims in the IPEC with a value of up to £10,000. Costs orders on the small claims track are highly restricted.

The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court and Guides can be found at: