Consultants play an important role in applying for European funding. Often, the funding programmes happen to be so specific that it is difficult for potential applicants to deal with all the aspects, from formalities such as entering data into portals, to interpreting the guidelines correctly.
Nevertheless, some European Executive Agencies are skeptical when it comes to consultants. This is partly because of certain prejudices. An “advisor” is not a protected professional title like a “notary” or an “auditor.” Anyone can call themself a consultant, and therefore, it’s possible to encounter underqualified professional or even an imposter who has very little in common with the qualifications and expertise of the reputable consultants. Those consultants sometimes charge exaggerated fees for their services that lack expertise and knowledge. By doing so, those few pretenders create a bias toward the consultancy services and consultants in general.
Qualified consultants work under umbrella organizations, such as the EAIC, which apply strict standards through specific criteria set (see EAIC’s Code of Conduct for mor details). In most cases, they also work with a success component when it comes to producing applications and share some of their clients' risk.
Many NCPs are in direct contact with consultants, which means that knowledge is shared in both directions. Client companies benefit from this collaboration, being provided with the latest information. Companies that hire consultants to apply for funding benefit from being relieved of the burden of time-consuming technicalities during the proposal preparation and application processes, receiving the necessary expertise externally.
Consultants provide added-value to their clients but to executive agencies as well. They act as multipliers, enabling more companies to apply for funding, rather than relying solely on the results of the executive agencies’ communication activities. In addition, consultants also help filtering out the best projects as they usually support promising projects that have the most potential to succeed. This prevents the flood of irrelevant or inappropriate applications making it easier for executive agencies, which therefore can be more efficient focusing their time and energy to the most promising proposals.
Therefore, a dynamic collaboration between the EU Executive Agencies and consultants should be strongly encouraged for the mutual gains. Developing well-established partnership in those terms would certainly benefit all stakeholders and increase Europe’s global competitiveness.
Article courtesy of EAIC member Dorucon