Since the launch of the European Innovation Fund in 2020 we have been supporting our clients with project scoping, proposal writing and calculations up to grant agreement negotiations.
In the last large-scale call which ended in March, the portfolio of our clients’ projects included more than 500M € of grants in total.
The Innovation Fund is one of the largest funding programs, with more than €30 billion to be allocated until 2030 to support the first commercial-scale demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies in Europe.
The program aims to support development of green technologies and share the risk of innovation, thus helping European companies to innovate and reach low-emission goals.
The grant to be obtained is significant, reaching above 100 million euros for large-scale projects. Until now, projects in the following four main categories were expected.
However, Innovation Fund is going through some changes, with additional sectors, such as maritime, to be added to the scope.
Innovation Fund projects need to balance a high level of innovation with sufficient technical maturity. The projects should be advanced from the R&D phase as the technology is expected to be proven on pilot scale before the submission of the proposal.
The core result of the project should be reduction of GHG emissions – it is expected that your project will replace the currently available technology with a more efficient one. The setup of the project is flexible, with the possibility to apply as a single applicant or with collaboration partners.
With several calls for both, large-scale and small-scale projects behind us, we can share our lessons learned on preparing high-quality and competitive applications. When making the decision to seize the opportunity of Innovation Fund, you need to know what you are getting into.
The application package is very complex and requires dedication and resources. So, what to keep in mind?
The supported projects are all about innovation. The technology should be novel at its core, used in a completely different sector, or have a strong business model innovation behind it. Be ready to prove innovativeness by providing detailed technical data and comparisons to the current state of the art.
You should make the evaluators believe that your project is better, beyond today’s solutions and for that generic statements will not be enough.
You should have a solid business case with relevant data. Be aware of all the business risks that might emerge and have a deep understanding of the mitigation measures. For the project to be feasible, you should know in detail the return of your project and have a solid plan on how you are going to finance it, even if the project creates loss during the first years. Show strong commitment from the shareholders or if needed, have investors or other external financiers on board. The better you prove your business case, the higher the score.
Explain all the data you have built your business case on. Know how you are going to sell your product or earn revenues, and explain the assumptions behind your cash flows and cost estimates. The evaluators expect proof of the assumptions made in revenue forecasts as well as already initiated collaboration with customers, financiers, suppliers, etc. Thus, be ready to collect support letters from all the key stakeholders covering your supply chain. The evaluators must believe your business model, even if they are not industry experts.
Know who you are competing with in the market as well as in the application round. Compare your technology to those that have been financed in the previous calls as well as those that are currently being developed. Be ready to provide proof for your claims regarding efficiency and performance, cost reductions, ease of use, etc.
Showcase that you know your technology, it has been piloted and you are aware of the risks that might emerge when going commercial scale. Point out all the problems (maintenance etc) that might arise from the working conditions of the plant together with the mitigation measures. As for the previous points, also in case of maturity, it is relevant to provide as much proof and data as possible.
Show your excellent team. Make sure you have the team needed to implement the project and point out the competences and experience of your team members. Your team should have prior experience in your industry, with large-scale projects and attracting funding.
Think about the project as a whole – consider the availability of feedstock when describing scalability, market situation when forecasting revenue streams, possible developments on the market when forecasting market share, risks of technology etc.
It is expected that after the project, there will be further developments and growth. It can be through expansion on the project site, establishing new sites, sharing experience and know-how with other players on the market, etc.
Support the growth potential with solid elaboration on market demand, feedstock availability, potential changes in the market, financing means, etc to prove that you have also analyzed the future perspective.
Make sure you have enough time for preparing the proposal to be able to compile a high-quality project overview as well as in the work plan of the project itself. The project time plan needs to be realistic, considering also the time needed to obtain relevant permits, sign contracts, and solve unexpected problems, and include relevant milestones that help to monitor your progress
Be ready to collect letters of support from key partners, such as local governments, state level institutions etc who might have an impact on the implementation of your project.
Before submission, make sure that the information in all application documents is coherent.
As the application package is large, mistakes might come easily, thus leave enough time to review the data and assumptions highlighted in different parts of the proposal.
Our consultants can help you with shaping the project idea and making sure it fits the expectations of the Innovation Fund. During the proposal preparation, we help you to structure and write the relevant documents to have a convincing and high-quality proposal.
We have dedicated experts that support you in performing the relevant calculations (GHG emissions, project budget and grant) according to the methodologies provided by the European Commission.
We have experience in the whole cycle of Innovation Fund – from preparing the proposal up to support during the grant agreement signature, and thus can guide you within the full project lifetime. Did you know that we also have deep insights on the evaluation of Innovation Fund proposals?
If you are interested in the funding opportunity, would like to get more insights, and test your project idea, contact us.