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Differences between dissemination, communication, and exploitation in research projects

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Subtle differences have large effects on research project outcomes


Getting new sustainable technologies to market can be a very difficult process.

Taking an idea, something that may have started as nothing more than a general concept, and making it materialize in the real world is no small feat. Along the way there are countless hours spent planning, researching, preparing, writing proposals, securing funding – and that’s just to lay out the vision for how it will be accomplished!

After that you need to actually execute the plan. You need to take that leap and prove that your ideas, calculations, and designs can work and function in full-scale, three-dimensional space.

All of this is challenging in its own right, but there is a whole other side to successful projects – a side that can only be seen after it has proven successful. Proving the technology works is just the tip of the iceberg. After that, you need to show the world what you’ve done.

There are three main components to doing this: dissemination, communication, and exploitation. There are subtle but significant differences between the three, and all of them should be used – if a new technology is capable of helping the planet while creating a strong business case, it should be heard as far and wide as possible. Wouldn’t you agree?

These important aspects of during and post-project broadcasting are covered in more detail below.

Dissemination: Making Project Results Known

Dissemination is a word that is often reserved for “getting the word out” – but it is usually more specific than broadcasting to a wide group of people. It generally involves getting relevant project information to appropriate scientific or other specific communities that can help move the project along even further or to use the project work to help their own in a common pursuit.

Though some people use dissemination interchangeably with the broader form of general communication, it has a distinct advantage of being targeted at people that will benefit from it and get the most out of it. This is usually a first step after project results are obtained or a project is satisfactorily completed – making the project results known.

Dissemination to the research community

The research community needs to be provided with publications, posters, official presentations, and any other applicable data. This will not only help further research in the applicable field, it will also help contribute to making new, insightful results more widespread in the academia – which will often have a positive impact on current and future projects in that area.

Communication: Sharing Results Widely

Communication is a broad term – and in this sense, that is exactly how it is intended to be used: to share results widely with anyone and everyone interested in the project in any way shape or form.

Broad communication usually comes after dissemination, when the relevant scientific or industrial communities have seen and approved of project results. Communication is intended to be done in ways that also generate feedback in return, to get a better idea of how the project can be applied or used in society and how it can be improved or tweaked.

Communication to policy makers

Communicating to policy makers is critical, but it does not have to be a complex action. They require reports, policy papers, and informal written recommendations. Using the expertise of the project partners together in combination with the project results can be used to offer welcome guidance for new policies through the various communication means.

Exploitation: Valorizing Research Results

Exploitation is usually the last in the timeline of the three main forms of how project results are used – it concerns the impact of the results of your project on science, industry, society, and governments mostly after the project is completed. This activity is meant to valorize research results, or to enhance their value and applicability in everyday life (or in whatever niche or area of speciality the project was designed to address). It is also meant to validate, assign merit, endorse, and ratify research results in a way that increases the visibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of those who will benefit from them. Though the most difficult to do successfully, it is perhaps the most important aspect to achieve impact from research projects.

There are specific stakeholder groups that should be targeted with exploitation in mind, each addressed in corresponding ways to positively impact the project.

Exploitation in industry

Industry can greatly benefit from exploitation, including patents, prototypes, and joint venture agreements, as well as new products, procedures, standards and codes of conduct. These in turn can help generate economic growth and improvements in production processes and competitiveness, all of which are goals for most projects.

Exploitation in civil society

Civil society benefits from exploitation in the form of new products, services, and technology in the market, which often leads to an increase in quality of life and overall standard of living. In many instances it can also help improve urban and rural services, as well as some more specific improvements, such as reduced energy consumption.

Additional exploitation actions

There are many additional things to consider during project exploitation that benefit all stakeholders, consortium partners, and the project itself.

Keeping a global database of existing patents, papers and public releases while following market trends can help project results reach their maximum potential. It is also important for partners to protect their intellectual property from external threats and devise mitigation strategies in case of internal disagreements.

Furthermore, identifying potential results to be exploited should be considered as soon as key results become available, allowing for the greatest exploitation reach when the project is successfully completed. This should then be combined with a market analysis to assess the potential of each result to make sure time is spent on the right results with the most potential – and energy is not wasted on the wrong results.

How Linq Can Help Your Project Achieve Impact

While all forms of communication are important, some are more important than others at certain stages of the project. Along with good project management, excellent communication, dissemination, and exploitation activities are essential to not only achieving the project impact but also making sure it can reach its intended goal.

Linq Consulting specializes in project management and communication, from the grant proposal stage all the way through to completion in the real world. Our expert team of grant writers, project managers, and project communication specialists have helped numerous projects get funding and get to market from Horizon 2020 and other EU-funded grant programs.

Contact us at for more information.


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