23 Sep 2020 | 10.18 am
Guest Blog: Barrie Dowsett, Myriad Associates
Where to source European Union funding for your business
23 Sep 2020 | 10.18 am
Drawing up an application for EU funding can be a minefield, says Barrie Dowsett of Myriad Associates, but there are ways to maximise your chances of success
It’s no secret that devising an application for European Union funding can be a minefield. EU funding grants are typically in competition format, where only the most comprehensive, high quality applications will win. However, there are certain steps companies can take to maximise their chances of success.
Recognise that not all funding programmes are the same
Choose carefully. Companies should do their homework, and never assume that just because they’ve received EU funding before, they definitely will again. The programmes themselves also vary widely, so it’s essential to choose one that best suits the company’s requirements.
Additionally, it’s well worth signing up for information feeds, so that rules, criteria and parameters can be explored thoroughly. After all, applying for a grant that actually isn’t suitable is a total waste of money, time and effort.
See an overview of current EU funding programmes here.
Give it a European dimension
Address the following where possible:
- How exactly does the project idea fit in the objectives described in the programme’s guidelines?
- How does the project idea relate to the EU’s wider objectives in this field?
- Does your project plan only draw on local or national research or are you looking at wider EU and international research as well? (a combination is preferable, but make sure the researched is described clearly and in detail)
- Does the project address a European gap in the market? How will this be proven?
- If you are applying as a consortium, do you have a diverse partnership geographically? What are the partnership’s strengths in terms of building European networks?
- Is the issue that this project aims to tackle significant at a European level? To what extent can this be evidenced?
Know your market and explain the commercial opportunity
The assessor needs to fully understand who the company’s innovative product or service is aimed at, strongly backed up with market research. What benefit will the solution bring to the user, how is it better than anything that’s gone before and how does it beat the competition?
Enterprise Ireland has an excellent Market Research Centre on their website which you may find useful.
Discuss value for money
As should be expected, European programmes are extremely keen to know how projects offer the best value for money. There’s no bottomless pit of cash, and demand, especially in these tough economic times, is high. Project managers should keep this in mind when working out their budgets and be clear about the value added, and returns on investment.
Write an effective dissemination plan
A well-crafted European project application should contain a comprehensive ‘dissemination’ plan. This is basically a plan that describes how the project will be promoted and communicated.
Dissemination targets should be ambitious but also achievable. They should also clearly describe how the project benefits Europe as a whole, and how its success will be measured. Remember — the dissemination plan is a key component that applications are evaluated against, so it needs to be good.
There are a few examples of notable dissemination plans online. The Energise Project is one of them.
Describe the impact of the research
Yes, the company’s research is cutting edge and amazing but so what? Who will benefit from the research in the long term and what are the intended consequences of the project? Assessors need to understand the project’s expected results and deliverables.
What main EU innovation grant programmes are available?
There’s a large number of notable innovation grants available to Irish and EU-based businesses such as Horizon 2020.
Horizon 2020 is the most substantial of the EU research and innovation programmes, offering just short of €80 billion in funding over the last 6 years. It aims to put European innovation on the map by taking new ideas right from their initial stages to testing and marketing.
European Structural and Investment Funds
A sizeable percentage of EU funding comes via five European structural and investment funds (ESIF). Managed collaboratively by EU member states and the European Commission, each fund is designed to create sustainable jobs which will support the European economy.
Further details and opening dates can be found on each of the individual websites:
- Cohesion fund (CF)
- European maritime and fisheries fund (EMFF)
- European social fund (ESF)
- European agricultural fund for rural development (EAFRD)
- European regional development fund (ERDF)
The LIFE programme
The LIFE programme gives grant funding in support of environmental projects, nature conservation, and climate change work throughout the EU. Between 2014 and 2020, LIFE will have helped to financially support projects to the tune of around €3.4 billion. For more information, take a look at ‘the LIFE programme’ online.
European programme EUREKA Eurostars assists innovative SMEs in undertaking collaborative research with organisation from across Europe and beyond. See the EUREKA Eurostars website for more.
Where do specialist bid writers fit in?
It’s clear that R&D grant funding is an essential part of Ireland’s ongoing successes in innovative R&D. But with rules changing regularly and competition fiercer than ever, only the highest quality applications will earn the cash.
This is why many companies turn to a specialist EU bid writer to help them craft an application that will not only stand up to scrutiny but carry their innovative R&D plans forward.
Ireland is a global driver of innovation and securing the EU grant funding can make all the difference to a company’s plans. It’s well worth getting it right first time.
• Barry Dowsett (pictured) is chief executive of Myriad Associates, which helps businesses maximise R&D tax credits and secure innovation funding from Innovate UK, Enterprise Ireland and Horizon 2020