EU Funding Explained

Partnership network within EU projects

The European Commission publishes metadata about all funding approved as part of the 7th Framework Program (FP7) and Horizon 2020, with the latter still in effect to date. Analytical tools can be used to process and sift through this data to gain valuable information, for example, about the competitive environment. This article will show which organizations have entered into collaboration as part of European support programs and what their collaborative networks look like.

This analysis is based on data from 39,251 FP7 and H2020 projects, of which 238 or as little as 0.6 percent involved fuel cells to a greater degree. However, the small percentage is a result of including only those which received grant approval in the end. The number of applications was much higher.

Many of the fuel cell projects were or are a collaboration of more than two partners. Of course, an increase in the number of project partners means an increase in the amount of generated data. One method to create an easy-to-understand overview of this large bulk of information is utilization of a network diagram based on a forces model. Such a model gives more weight to stakeholders that collaborated with a greater number of organizations.

Since the H2020 program is still in effect and projects are added to it regularly, only metadata before June 1, 2017, was considered. Information was filtered by FCH (fuel cell hydrogen) and Fuel Cell to ensure the exclusion of projects which conduct basic research on catalysts or are concerned with battery development.

Competitive analysis

Figure 1 clearly shows that FP7 focused primarily on one stakeholder and, at lower priority, on a few other organizations. The principal receiver of funds was the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, followed by the German Aerospace Center. It is not uncommon for R&D support programs to concentrate on research institutions. Both are collaborating or have collaborated with around 240 partners on 78 projects. They have also been the coordinating organization in about one-third of their projects, i.e., they shared in the success of project applications.


Example: Daimler

Daimler is the automaker with the highest rate of participation in the EU’s R&D support programs. Only Linde shows a greater number of projects among all German businesses that were part of the analysis.


An analysis of EU projects provides an important contribution to painting a clearer picture of the market’s competitive environment. The fuel cell and hydrogen community in Europe shows a high degree of networking activity. Especially when it comes to large projects, organizations one would expect to be competitors on the market are collaborating closely to advance the technology.

Author: Benedikt Eska, Technology Management SK, Garching, Germany

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