Tips for creating great ideas that lead to winning proposals for funding


Create winning ideas for funding toolThis is Nikolaos Floratos, Founder of the Funding Expert Academy. In this article, I am going to teach you how to create great ideas that lead to winning proposals and are granted funding by European programmes such Horizon 2020, Erasmus+, Creative Europe, etc . The famous painter Pablo Picasso has once said that “I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else”. His point was that the foundation on anything significant in life is based on ideas. However, how many times an idea that you had, stayed an idea in your mind and you didn’t take any actions to implement it with the fear of failure, or even if you did go ahead with your idea, how many times it lead you to lose money, time, resources, friends? An idea can make us rich or make us poor. An idea can make us feel happy or sad, give us energy or exhaust us, make us successful or failed as entrepreneurs as teachers as innovators as professionals as parents as friends.

We need to understand that we live in the idea age where companies and individuals succeed or go bankrupt and reach bottom because of their ideas. So, Are there ways for us not only to create but also develop ideas that could change the world and at the end make our life meaningful and ourselves matter for others?

Personally, during my whole life I remember myself coming up with new ideas, feeling the energy and this nice feeling of hope that an idea can lead you. But I can say that some of my ideas at some stages in my life lead me to lose money, resources, energy, connection with my family and friends, health and even lose happiness. These were really difficult times for me and could possibly still be if I hadn’t realized that some of our ideas may lead us to mistakes and failures but we need to see those as learning opportunities. We have to realize that as I read somewhere “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it”. This insight made me believe strongly (so strongly that I have it in my background in all my social media channels) and I say it to my students and people I coach “Feel happier and get wiser by looking in the end of the day at your mistakes as learning opportunities!”. This enlightenment didn’t only make me more successful in life but also motivated me to study mistakes and faulty actions made by others and how they addressed them and manage to achieve great things including writing winning proposals for funding in order to learn from them.

But you may wonder for yourself: “Shall I fail in order to become successful?”

Not really since there is another way much much easier and painless. i.e. Learn from the others, learn from those that have failed and have managed to stand up again and build a happy and fulfilling life in their personal and business environment. For example, do you want to be successful in writing winning proposals for funding? Get trained, get a mentor, get a coach!

I give keynote speeches and I run workshops and seminars on how people can exploit successfully funding options (state, public or private) submit proposals to request funding based on great ideas and subsequently deliver valuable projects, services and products in society and make a change. In all those events, I start my speech or training either by asking a relevant question or by congratulating them for coming to my event because they have realized that there is a far better and more effective way of mastering something than learning by doing and sometimes failing and that is learning from the others.

In one of my previous videos, I have talked about the Funding Experts Academy and outlined its main engine, the Funding Expert Transformation Tree

Finally, since our time is rather limited, I am not planning to present the whole Funding Expert Transformation Tree in this video but I will explain briefly the first letter I. from its I.C.R.E.A.T.E.S. System™. We need to work on I. since it is the first step that will lead us to winning proposals.

Without this, we cannot have a valuable product or service offered by us or by our business. If this is missing, then our whole business or organisation may collapse. On the other hand, if this is present then we add value to what we offer and we build a product and service that is meant to flourish. This is of course an

Idea

that is internally validated first and let me explain this. As an intellectual professional and knowledge entrepreneur e.g. manager, proposal writer, entrepreneur, startup owner etc that produces intellectual outputs one of the first elements that you need to do is to create ideas that may have high potential of making a change in your organization, in your business environment or in society. There are specific techniques that I teach on how to create ideas and how to filter the ones that can make a difference. Very often I say to my students that our ideas are like our children that we think they are the most beautiful in the whole world and we expect everyone else to find them beautiful. But reality is not like that, and definitely at least others cannot see all our ideas as the most gorgeous. Therefore, we can apply the following conditions for internally validating our idea and ensuring its potential high value:

A winning idea should support a mission

  • Our idea needs to support the mission of ourselves or of our organization. If it doesn’t support our mission, then we need to drop it. Of course, first we need to specify what is our mission and there are techniques for that

A winning idea should support a vision

  • Secondly, our idea needs to support our vision of ourselves or of our organization. While the mission refers to the present, the vision refers to the future and we need to specify where we wish to be and what we wish to do in the future individually or as an organization and our idea needs to support this. Again there are specific techniques for that

A winning idea requires dedication and devotion

  • Last but most importantly, we need to apply the following trick. We need to ask ourselves the question “If I win today the lottery that allows me to live for some years a comfortable life, will I still go ahead with this idea and invest the winning on implementing it”. If we answer “NO” then we need to drop the idea but if we answer with a big “Yes” then we need to go ahead.

How to create winning ideas

Now you may wonder that this is clear now but in order to validate at least internally our idea, we need to create it first. So is there a way to come up with great ideas that for example can lead to winning proposals and receive funding from European programmes such Horizon 2020, Erasmus+, Creative Europe, Structural Funds, etc. The answer is that there many ways and I am just going to touch just one. One of the most effective ways in our area that I suggest and make my students master is 635 brainwriting technique that aids innovation and stimulates creativity.

The name 635 implies that each of the 6 participants will have to write down on a specific worksheet, 3 ideas related a) to a funding priority of a specific programme and b) (very important) related to the mission of the organization or department they belong and they will have 5 minutes for that. That is why we call it 635 – 6 participants, 3 ideas, 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, each of the 6 worksheets is passed on to the right participant and the process is repeated and each participant can get inspired from the idea he reads on the sheet written by his neighbor and contribute to them by integrating or elaborating further. The whole cycle is repeated in total 6 times (the same as the number of participants) i.e. in total 30 minutes. The participants can be alternatively 3, 4, 5 or 7 and the repetition of the whole cycle is modified accordingly. This technique is by far more effective than brainstorming that recently Harvard Business Review critisised it with an article “Why Group Brainstorming is a Waste of Time”. You can google for finding the article in Harvard Business Review as well as more info about 635 brainwriting technique.

But now, I have also an extra surprise for you. You can access a template worksheet for 635 technique that you can use in your sessions by clicking on the link below.

Subscribe to download for free a template worksheet for 635 technique along with useful directions.

Also please post a comment and tell me what you think of the article and feel free to ask any questions. I will be answering questions and reviewing comments personally.

So that’s it. I hope you find it useful and you can apply it to your particular situation in European Funding.

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Nikolaos Floratos

About Nikolaos Floratos

Nikolaos Floratos after his undergraduate and postgraduate studies with distinction as engineer in London (Imperial College, City University), UK, has been working for a number of consultancy and Information Technology companies as consultant and project manager across Europe. He completed also an MBA (Master in Business Administration - National Technical University of Athens and Athens University of Economics and Business) and the last 19 years he is involved in planning, managing and evaluating large and small projects in the area of research, education, ICT (Information Communication Technologies), social inclusion, entrepreneurship, standardization and consumer issues. As a funding expert, personal trainer and coach, he has supported hundreds of individuals and organisations mainly from Europe but also from all over the world on managing state funding (e.g. from European Commission, National Funds, etc) and receive support for deploying their business idea or mission and he has proved that anyone can become a great proposal writer or project manager of european funded projects through proper guidance, training and coaching. He is an expert on behalf of the European Commission on evaluating and reviewing projects and proposals since 2003 and currently, he researches through a PhD how eLearning courses can increase students' engagement and motivation. He is the creator of the Funding Expert Transfomation Process™ system that can transform anyone to a great proposal writer and project manager of european funded projects. He is also interested in investing in highly innovative start-ups and SMEs and he is member of the European Business Angel Network and of the Institute of Leadership and Management. He has received more than 50 recommendations at his linkedin profile (www.linkedin.com/in/floratos) as a funding expert, coach and trainer. He is also the author of the ebook "Who are the Horizon 2020 champions and what to learn from them". He is also listed in the top first three search results by google as "Funding expert".

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