Exploitation of Project Results – An Overview

The European Commission’s research and innovation funding programme places great importance on exploitation; in fact it is mandatory for most proposals to present a viable exploitation plan:

“… participant shall provide any information on their exploitation and dissemination related activities, and provide any documents necessary in accordance with the conditions laid down in the grant agreement”

What is meant by exploitation?

Exploitation refers to the use of projects results either for commercial purposes or for public policymaking. It can be societal, commercial, political or even for improving public knowledge of a project’s Key Exploitable result or “KER”. This basically means project beneficiaries must make use of concrete results.

How? By creating products, services, roadmaps, prototypes, etc.

What are Key Exploitable Results (KERs) ?

The European Commission’s definition of a Key Exploitable Result is “Any tangible or intangible output of the action, such as data, knowledge and information whatever their form or nature, whether or not they can be protected, which are generated in the action as well as any attached rights, including intellectual property rights”.

In simple terms, KERs are project results which have been selected and prioritized based on their high potential for commercialization or as an important input to policy further research or education.

Making use of Results

Results must be used for scientific, societal or economic purposes. Examples would be:

  • Products
  • Services
  • Patents
  • Start-up / Spin-off
  • New standard
  • Further research

Article 28- Exploitation of Results

Article 28 of the Model Grant Agreement states “Each beneficiary must — up to four years after the period set out in Article 3 — take measures aiming to ensure ‘exploitation’ of its results (either directly or indirectly, in particular through transfer or licensing; see Article 30) by:

  1. using them in further research activities (outside the action);
  2. developing, creating or marketing a product or process;
  3. creating and providing a service, or
  4. using them in standardization activities

What is an Exploitation Plan?

An exploitation plan is a document which defines the exploitation activities to be conducted with the project’s KERs. The first version of the exploitation plan is usually created at the beginning stages of the project, including all data related to all the foreseeable project results.

These are then analyzed based on various parameters such degree of innovation and technology readiness level. Over time, as the project continues, new KERs are added and older ones are removed based on their exploitation potential.

Planning an Exploitation Plan

An exploitation plan must be as precise as possible, but it is updates and changed throughout the project. Initially, the following should be analyzed when planning an exploitation plan:

  • In what areas do we expect to make an impact?
  • What problems may be solved through the project’s results?
  • What outputs are going to be created?
  • Who are the potential users of the results?

What should my exploitation plan include?

  • List of all the different project exploitable results – knowledge, methods, agreements, networks, technologies, etc.
  • Risk assessment and countermeasures for exploitation of the KERs
  • Concrete measures that will be taken to ensure the KERs meet realistic needs
  • Identify the roles and responsibilities of project partners exploiting KERs
  • Quantitative and qualitative IPR analysis

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