More than just money (Part 1): Benefits of EU funding and collaboration

There is a multitude of opportunities in EU funding instruments for sustainable industries who are ready to reinvent and renew their business practices. Applying for EU funding is a long and competitive process but doing your homework will increase your company’s chances to succeed and reap the benefits of European collaboration for years to come. In this first part, we collected some key messages from a recent Business Finland webinar on European Union funding and collaboration. 

Finnish companies have world-class expertise to share with the world and Europe is all for supporting disruptive, sustainable innovations for the benefit of the whole Europe and its citizens. Business Finland’s program on sustainable manufacturing is meant to help Finnish companies to find local and international partners and provide funding for their collaborative renewal efforts. Finding new markets and developing business opportunities for growth is also part of the Business Finland programs. For those new to European collaboration, the easiest access to EU funding is to find a consortium, in other words, join forces with local and international partners.

Why join the European collaboration?

All the presenters in the Business Finland webinar emphasised  the benefits of joining European collaboration. Besides getting funding from European funding instruments, successful applicants gain a lot more than just money to accelerate their project. Firstly, it provides an opportunity to anticipate emerging technologies and undertake R&D&I activities with the best researchers and talents. Secondly, it is a way to identify new business opportunities and to strengthen and diversify company innovation and business networks.  The EU initiatives, standards and regulation affect the international market. Through active EU collaboration, companies will be more likely to have a say in how they evolve.

Participating EU collaboration also supports company’s continuous renewal and offers a pathway to enter international markets and access to new domestic and international partners and customers. Support for risk-sharing is an important factor for many funding applicants, as there is an opportunity to get 70-100% of eligible costs getting funded. Opportunity to develop own processes and technologies and join the experts of the same field to solve industry competitiveness problems together is also a big benefit.

Current and upcoming funding instruments

The EU’s political priorities will be implemented through a variety of EU programs and funds. We briefly covered some of the funding instruments earlier. Here are brief snapshots of some of the current and upcoming funding calls relevant for Finnish companies:

For innovative companies wanting to become more sustainable

Green Deal call in Horizon 2020

  • Differs from the other calls in the sense that it aims to produce tangible results visible to EU citizens in a relatively short time frame
  • Concrete solutions to tackle climate change with reduction of CO2 emissions
  • Funding of close to 1B€
  • Only single-stage calls: all projects must sign grant agreements by the end of 2021
  • The call opens in September 2020 and is expected to close in January 2021
  • More information: Business Finland webinar on 4.6.2020

Innovation Fund

  • Building and operating large-scale industrial assets with breakthrough technologies
  • Demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies
  • Lump-sum payments upon milestones and performance
  • Content and calls may be adjusted annually
  • Single entity can apply, consortia not obligatory
  • First call in 2020 with first deadline in Q4

Green Deal in Horizon Europe (2021-2027)

  • Horizon Europe is the EU’s next research and innovation programme and four out of the agreed five mission areas directly support European Green Deal (related to healthy oceans, climate-neutral cities, soil health and food and adaptation to climate change)
  • Over 35% of Horizon Europe spending will contribute to climate objectives.

For innovative companies wanting to become more digital

ECSEL Joint Undertaking

  • A public-private partnership for Electronic Components and Systems (ECS) for funding research and innovation projects
  • Scope: improving pan-European competitiveness and technology with and within the ECS industry
  • Total available funding annually over 300 M€
  • Project duration usually 36 months
  • Number of partners per project: 10-100 in 4-20 countries
  • ECSEL continues under name Key Digital Technologies (KDT) in 2021 with somewhat simplified procedures

EUREKA cluster projects

  • Clusters are industry-initiated strategic long-term initiatives to develop technologies within a certain area of interest for Europe
  • Examples: ITEA 3, Celtic Next, Euripides 2 and Penta
  • National funding bodies of EUREKA countries select and fund projects of these calls according to national funding rules
  • Changes in the structure expected beyond 2020

For close-to-market innovations with no specific topics

EIC Fast Track to Innovation

  • For close-to-market innovation with high business potential and risk
  • Project duration 36 months
  • Funding: 1-3 M€
  • Small consortia with 3-5 partners
  • Industry-driven projects
  • Remaining cut-off date: 27.10.2020

For SMEs only

European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot

  • For innovative, high-flying SMEs with European and global ambitions
  • For companies aiming at fast international growth
  • For 12-24-month projects with grant of 0,5-2,5M£ or blended with equity, max 15M€
  • Technology readiness level of 6 at least
  • Non-bankability = too risky for private investors
  • Equity option available only with EIC Accelerator funding
  • Single entity can apply
  • Remaining cut-off date: 7.10.2020

Do not hesitate to contact our experts at Spinverse if you need more detailed advice on finding your way through the EU funding application process and identifying the right partners to build your collaborative consortium.