ITD news

SEAFOODplus member of FP6 communication network

Managers being responsible for dissemination and/or communication in FP6 projects have formed their own network (COMMNET) to improve their communication skills and to help and assist each other in the day to day problems with colleagues, peers and stakeholders. During network meetings experience is being exchanged between members. This has enhanced the communication quality in all the involved Integrated Projects and Networks of Excellence. A web based site for the network members has been established for exchange of written material, guidelines and reference material for common use. Also, good communication has been taken up with the officers in the Commission being responsible for communication.


Author: Jörg Oehlenschläger, Federal Research Centre for Nutrition and Food, Hamburg, Germany



COMMNET was established in early 2005 based on an initiative from the NoE CASCADE. It is an informal network and started with Communicators from about 15 different IPs and NoEs. Later, more projects have been added, and the network now counts more than 20 FP6 projects supported by DG Research’s Food Quality and Safety Programme. COMMNET aims to share best practice to improve communication of EU research.


COMMNET organised a round table at CER 2005 in Brussels

COMMNET has held several meetings which have included training sessions so far on strategy planning, website design, media engagement and stakeholder involvement. COMMNET members were active participants in Communicating European Research 2005, where a roundtable with the title ‘Communicating EU Food and Health Research’ was organised. A summary of the contributions and the conclusions from the roundtable is being published in a book in January 2007.


Several projects also had stands at the CER 2005 exhibition, where examples of successful project communication were presented. For this and other efforts, COMMNET has been recognised by the Commission and the network is in continuous contact with key players in DG Research through liaison with their Communications Department.

Coordinator and Manager of dissemination at SEAFOODplus stand during CER 2005 exhibition

It is important to communicate EU food and health research to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), authorities, and other policy-makers that are stakeholders in Community research, European Commission officials, science journalists, especially those with special interest in the biosciences, ongoing FP6 consortia, newly FP6 research consortia, planned FP7 research consortia and other groups interested in the management of science-society issues and/or communication of the biosciences. However, it should be emphasised that it is not only important to communicate to these stakeholders, but also to communicate with them.


Communication managers have a vital role in the EU research consortia. They need multi-skills and have to work according to current best practices. This is all of utmost importance because good communication of their projects results leads to greater understanding of science by stakeholders and the general public.


As the overall aim of FP6 projects within the food quality and safety area is to improve consumers’ health and wellbeing, successful communication will make these requirements a reality. Lastly, better science renders European industry more competitive by means of improved co-operation, reduced duplication of research and opens for more funding opportunities.


SEAFOODplus was a member in COMMNET from the very beginning and will continue the activity in this network.