Sister Projects’ Cooperation Experience: A Joint Event

The 5 projects funded under RUR-06-2020 and RUR-07-2020 calls, started a close collaboration practically
from the beginning of their activities, in November 2020 following the Topic requirement “To maximize impact across Europe and to ensure wide dissemination of the project results, proposals should foresee a
dedicated work package for cooperation with other selected projects under topic RUR-06-2020 and earmark appropriate resources. Cooperation with other selected projects under topic RUR-07-2020 is encouraged”. For this purpose, and in an agreed and coordinated manner, the 5 projects have established a working system, through the creation of a series of tools (common databases; different working groups, organisation of rotating meetings…) which have enabled efficient collaboration and the implementation of a set of actions to maximise the impact of our projects.

After 3 years of cooperation, and since some of the projects are nearing completion, the sister projects
proposed to organize a joint event to present and debate their cooperation experience with their REA Project Officers and DG Agri Policy Officer. The event took place in Brussels, Thursday, 26th October 2023.

This meeting should allow for a joint analysis of the cooperation experience resulting in the identification of good practices that may be of interest for future cooperation activities between sister projects, aimed at maximising impact, maximising synergies, and avoiding overlaps.

Main Outcomes

As a general comment, we would like to highlight the satisfaction of all participants after the event, having the opportunity to discuss and critically review the experience of cooperation of 5 sister projects in these 3 years of work and analysing the collaboration carried out, with its positive and negative aspects. The presentations were followed by aa rich debate around project cooperation, generating ideas and proposals to facilitate future cooperation, aimed at maximising the impact of European projects with an efficient use of resources.

The main outcomes and comments collected during the event have been organised into the following points to facilitate their use:

What have been the key aspects for a good cooperation experience?

  • An early start of the cooperation and a joint definition of common objectives and agreed
    procedures to be applied during the Cooperation period, from the very beginning.
  • Establishing a rotating leadership of different duties (mainly organizing Cooperation
    meetings) (Work in co-responsibility)
  • In addition to the Cooperation Coordination Group, establishing thematic Working Groups
    (6) with specific focus, incorporating relevant partners from the 5 projects with
    activity/expertise corresponding WG field and positive outcomes.
  • Use of open documentation sharing tools
  • Identifying and defining specific cooperation and dissemination activities, of common
    interest, to be developed
  • Establishing common languages/wording/templates in the definition of activities,
    methodologies, results, plans and timelines.

What have each project gained from working with other sister projects?

  • Implementing joint actions to maximize the impact of the 5 projects
  • Developing a common Innovation Platform to disseminate the activities of the 5 projects as
    well as results coming from previous projects, and that will last after these sister projects
    finish, by chaining together funding from other related projects:
    ( )
  • Disseminating and communicating each other’s results (Newsletters, web pages, social
    media, FLW Hub) maximizing impacts making the effort of each project more profitable.
  • Broadening the scope of networking with the CCN (Cooperation & Collaboration Network)
    on Food Losses and Waste promoted by FOODRUS: transfer knowledge and learning from
    other projects beyond the 5 sister projects.
  • Networking between partners having similar roles in the different projects (e.g. innovators,
    academics studying the same field of research), which can be exploited for future research
  • Overpassing physiological limitations on different planning, timing, budgeting. methods,
    cultures, and more than believed, conviviality and friendships.

What have been the obstacles to effective collaboration and how the collaboration could have
been even more effective?

  • Different cooperation resources available and engagement level from each project, that
    needed to be harmonized once the projects were already running (not always easy)
  • Lack of time to carry all the joint cooperation activities that were proposed, due to other
    project duties.
  • Too many Working Groups, whereas if we had focused on a smaller number, this would have
    allowed us to better focus our efforts and be more effective.
  • The projects have different timelines (e.g. Ploutos ended in September 2023) and
    methodologies and it took too long to identify any common features. As a result, it was
    difficult to identify the methodological, technical or scientific aspects on which we could have
    joined forces to be more effective.
  • In the cooperation meetings and co-organized webinars, the focus was on (short)
    presentations and time for discussion was too short to get familiar with the other projects.
  • In Innovation Action projects, the large number of industrial and private partners means that
    it is not always possible to discuss freely the technical and scientific issues on which the
    various projects could collaborate collectively.

Lessons learnt and best practices adopted from other sister projects.

Our open collaboration has allowed us to “learn” from the good practices of other Sister projects:
Some examples:

  • Joint Innovation Platform (all)
  • Co-creation methodology (all)
  • Collaborative research work (PhD mobility: FoodRus and Lowinfood)
  • Policy recommendations (Ploutos and FAIRCHAIN)
  • Identification of Barriers and Best practices from other CCN projects (FoodRUs)
  • Enhanced cooperation and collaboration and shared facilities with Food Drink Europe, Copa
    Cogeca, and other EU umbrella organizations (all)

Improvement suggestions for future sister projects cooperation

  • Focus on specific activities (Do not disperse efforts trying to do too many things in the
    Cooperation framework) and define common clear KPIs-
  • When planning Cooperation activities in the proposal preparation phase, consider that these
    activities may require funding from the other sister projects (Plan this budget in the
    proposal). In the proposal phase, a budget can be set aside for unforeseen cooperation
    actions. For example, cross-exchanges between pilot cases are always great, but the partner
    which organizes the events shall foresee some budget, in the proposal phase, to invite people
    from other sister projects, and to open events to online attendants to facilitate sister projects
    partners to attend cross exchanges events of other sister projects.
  • Small thematic Working Groups with limited and well-defined objectives are more efficient.
  • Propose / Identify tools to assist and facilitate the exploitation of results after the end of the
    European projects. (i.e. Open innovation platform lasting after individual project completion)
  • If possible, instead of (or on top of) producing a Policy Brief each project, Sister projects should be coordinated to produce a Joint one. This is difficult due to different project timelines and durations, and typically, Policy briefs are produced at the end of the projects.
  • In Innovation Action projects, it is advisable to focus on collaboration in communication and dissemination activities, as it is often difficult to share technical and scientific activities due to the large number of private companies involved.
  • Exploit as much as possible the opportunity to go to conferences together and to organize side meetings or events dedicated to the cooperation
  • Mostly appropriate in RIA projects, including PhD / post docs exchanges between sister project partners in the same topic could be considered already at the proposal writing phase
  • Also consider maximizing impact on the society (not just in the Food Chains stakeholders).

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