Erasmus+: How to Build Your Business Model Canvas

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You already know what Erasmus+ is, the EU’s special programme for students, pupils and learners in higher education or vocational education who’d like to experience working and living abroad.  The projects last up to 2 years (with some lasting just a couple of days to 2 weeks, or three months, as an example).   Those involved in developing programmes and partnering with other schools should understand the different types of terminology involved, and the processes.  They are there to help you create worthwhile projects and to streamline the process for you. 


Erasmus+ Terminology 

 Exploitation is one of the terms often used.  It’s a blend of two other terms, “mainstreaming” and “multiplication” and both of these are essential for ensuring maximum project impact, and for the sustainability of the project’s results.  In short, it means to make good use of the Erasmus+ project’s activities so that results are always used as advantageously as possible. 

 Other terminology that you will come across include Dissemination.  Dissemination relates to how you will communicate the project findings. It involves promoting the Erasmus+ project and growing awareness.  This part of the process should be undertaken right at the beginning of the project, using a methodological document that determines how the project will roll out.  This is when building a Business Model Canvas could be very useful. 

 There’s also exploitation which results to producing relevant results that satisfy the demands of providers, policy-makers and general society.  Ultimately, using dissemination and exploitation, the end aim is to get the project results in front of the right target audience, at the right time – and in an easily digestible format that’s beneficial. 


The Business Model Canvas 


The Business Model Canvas was developed in 2008 by Alexander Osterwalder, a Swiss business theorist.  It is a visual representation of current or new business models, generally used by strategic managers. But the Canvas also provides a holistic view of a project.  In fact it is especially useful when running a comparative analysis on the impact of an increase in investment through any of the contributing factors. 

Furthermore, The Business Model Canvas gives those involved a common language through which they can evaluate traditional processes and bring innovation into their project models, or project outputs. It is especially useful for Erasmus+ projects involving construction and dissemination of an education and training platform. Planning a business model Canvas could be a strategic move for a correctly designed dissemination plan! 

In the long term, the project´s results will usually be offered within several European countries on the basis of given conditions. Therefore, it is important to:   

  • Analyse the conditions and demands in target countries.  
  • Develop a high-quality product according to target group demands.  
  • Test the platform under practical conditions during the pilot phase. 
  • Adapt the product to national or regional conditions if necessary. 
  • Plan and apply adequate dissemination activities. 


Marketing / Exploitation Process Phases  

These phases represent major steps towards the establishment of an educationally-viable product placement. To a certain degree, these phases can also be used as success indicators or milestones in the overall exploitation process chain.  


A) Start-up Phase

The Start-up Phase covers the initial phase of the project. It can also be referred to as the orientation phase because it is not clear at this stage if the services and products will be appropriate or available at the end of the project. The Start-up Phase ends when the curriculum is established, and the first set of contents has been prepared. It is a good idea to repeat the start-up phase steps during the later stage of the project and product implementation. 


B) Trial and Evaluation Phase

The Trial and Evaluation Phase starts with the preparation and realisation of the first pilot. This phase continues after the project ends because the processes of trial, evaluation and optimisation of the platform are all crucial for the future success of the product. 

The optimisation phase will partly be carried out during the project implementation phase after pilot testing and aims to reach a critical number of clients.  


C) Expansion Phase

The Expansion Phase solely covers the post-project period. The main purpose of this phase is  

a) the consolidation, and b) the expansion of the client-base and the introduction of the product to new markets.