Accessing European Commission funding workshop

Findacure’s second workshop shared advice on how patient groups can access EC funding

Findacure’s second patient group workshop took place at White & Case LLP in London, with 65 people attending, representing 53 different patient groups and organisations. The focus of the workshop was on the role of patient groups in applying to the European Commission for funding to drive research into their overlooked fundamental diseases.

Flóra Raffai, Project Manager at Findacure, opened the workshop with an introduction to Findacure as an organisation offering practical, hands-on advice to small patient groups. She explained the main foci of Findacure’s work; empowering patient groups through training workshops and mentoring, facilitating research through supporting research consortia, and creating a receptive research environment through engaging the scientific community around the fundamental importance of studying rare diseases. She also shared Findacure’s latest initiative, a crowdfunding campaign, as an effort to raise international awareness of fundamental diseases and how they impact patients.

Alex Harris - Medical Research Council

Alex Harris, the UK National Contact Point for Horizon 2020 at the MRC, followed by presenting a comprehensive overview of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 call, the new EU programme for 2014-2020 to promote research and innovation. He then focused in specifically on the calls within Horizon 2020 that are of particular relevance to fundamental disease patient groups.

 

Representatives from DevelopAKUre - AKU Society

Representatives from the international consortium DevelopAKUre then presented their ten top tips on successfully applying to the European Commission, based on their success with the previous call, FP7. They emphasised the need to tell the narrative of the disease in the application, to appeal to the person judging the proposal, as well as finding the right partners, and understanding the application process. A key message of the presentation was the crucial role patient groups can play in research consortia, as the motivator for partners and overall manager of the proposal.

 

Nick Rhodes - University of Liverpool

Following a short break, Nick Rhodes from the University of Liverpool shared his advice on how to work with academics in European Commission funded projects. He advised the patient groups to research past successful proposals to identify academics with which to network and include in their research consortia. He emphasised that for projects to be successful, the application should address not just health issues but also address the wider economic and social benefits that could arise from the project.

Ritchie Head - Ceratium

The final talk was given by Ritchie Head, Project Director at Ceratium, who shared his own seven steps to success. Ritchie stressed the need for patient groups to develop an overall strategic plan for what they intend to achieve in the long term, and to show how funding from the European Commission would fit into this plan in the application. The final step to success was for patient groups to lobby the European Commission to develop fundamental disease relevant calls in the future to ensure continuing funds being dedicated to this often overlooked disease area.

The workshop continued with a Q&A panel session, where attendees were able to question all of the speakers from the day. Key topics discussed were the type of research the European Commission preferred to fund, application logistics, and limits on the number of projects a team can simultaneously support.

Findacure would like to thank all of the speakers for their informative and interesting talks, White & Case LLP for the lovely venue, as well as all the attendees. We look forward to seeing you at our future workshops.