by Jenny Camaradou
Did you know that the European Union is investing around €2,9bn into SMEs to promote employment growth and economic prosperity and encourage entrepreneurs to grow and scale ventures in Europe? As part of its 7 year R&D framework called Horizon 2020, the EU has allocated €80bn in funding grants for SMEs and entrepreneurs. It is also introducing a series of policy measures designed to make an internal market in venture capital in Europe.
The EU is looking to support highly innovative SMEs that “want to disrupt the established value networks and existing markets”. It has introduced a variety of funding mechanisms so that you can apply as a single SME or group of SMEs to get a grants of €50,000 and between €0.5million – 2.5 million equity free, yes, that’s right, you get to retain your equity and at the end of it they also throw in introductions to investors, effectively providing you with an EU wide “stamp of approval” for your concept, which has beaten competition across the whole of the EU – neat huh?
“So what’s the catch?” I hear you say. There is none! Other than you have to have a concept/product/service that is likely to “disrupt the market” and have “pan-European application” and of course know how to handle the application red tape and write a winning proposal which meets the criteria of what the EU is looking for. This is where I come in. I lived, breathed and worked in the EU policy field, working within the European Commission during the first 3 years of my career in Brussels and subsequently afterwards as an in-house lobbyist on behalf of Thomson Reuters. I have designed, written and co-ordinated R&D projects and written proposals for a university business incubator and acted as an independent expert. I am currently waiting to hear if I will be working with the European Commission as an independent evaluator for proposals which means I am well placed to talk about what they are looking for!
So whether you are a new start-up fresh on the block, or have been established and trading for a while, whether you are based within a RD university organisation of an innovation hub or elsewhere or you have already received grants, related innovation-related tax benefits or an innovation prize in the last 2 years or a seed funding, you may be eligible to apply for an EU grant. As an SME you can apply for €50,000 grant for projects that are less than 6 months in duration – or between €0,5- 2,5million grant for projects that are expected to last between 12 – 24 months. To be able to get the funds for 2014 the first deadline for applications is 18 June 2014 and a second in September – if you would like to find out what options are available to you and how to increase your chances of writing a winning proposal, please get in touch. I will be running an introductory short webinar followed by 1-2-1 individual skype sessions within the next couple of weeks, as well as a face to face funding workshop at a central London venue.
If you found this article useful and would like to learn more, we recommend getting in touch with one of our partners in the fundraising space, Jenny, http://www.jennycamaradou.com.