23.4.2020 12:12

EU funding worth looking into: applications open for business and consortia – Green Deal, ICT and security sectors relevant now

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have received 21% of Finland’s EU funding. This proportion has doubled since the previous EU programming period. Taking part in the EU funding process allows you to build references and networks for your business.

The number of SMEs receiving EU funding has grown strongly with the help of SME business funding instruments. The Horizon 2020 programme is the largest EU funding programme for SMEs, but the Eurostars and Life programmes are also interesting. The Horizon 2020 programme period is coming to an end, but applications are still open for a few funding programmes.

Elina Holmberg, Senior Director of EU and International Collaboration at Business Finland, says, “We hope businesses apply for consortium projects. When businesses are asked about the biggest benefits of the funding process, they say networking and access to value chains. The money itself only takes third or fourth place. Getting to work on projects with international partners is the most important.”

EUTI (short for “EU:n tutkimus ja innovaatio-ohjelmat”, “EU research and innovation programmes”) is the national liaison office for the Horizon 2020 programme in Finland. EUTI channels information about the opportunities for participating in Horizon 2020 and gives advice on questions related to applications and running projects.

€2.5 m in funding through EIC

Elina Holmberg says that funding applications are open to the EIC Accelerator programme, for innovative SMEs, under the European Green Deal theme in May. There will be another application round in the autumn with no set theme. The EIC Accelerator was formerly the SME Instrument, and companies can apply to it alone.

“The funding consists of up to €2.5 million in the form of grants and a €15 million equity component. The EIC Fund funds SMEs in the marketing stage and in scaling their operations. The funding is intended for extremely innovative companies offering solutions that are disrupting the markets or even creating new ones. Any solutions which help Europe reach the set emissions goals are eligible to apply.”

Holmberg says applications should be comprehensive and even somewhat similar to business plans.

“They should say what the company is doing, how the solution is better than current solutions, and what its commercial and possible social effects are. When applying for the Green Deal themed funding in May, a company should also provide a precise estimate of the quantified impact of the solution on the climate and the environment.”

The new programme period begins at the start of 2021, with applications beginning by then at the latest.

Still time to apply – company consortium applications opening for ICT and security sectors

In addition to these applications, the Horizon 2020 ICT-themed funding applications for consortia are closing in June, and the security-themed ones are closing in August.

“If you’ve got a good network, you still have time to apply for ICT and security-themed funding. You should team up with a big Finnish player such as VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. VTT actively includes SMEs and other companies in projects.”

EU-funded market-scoping missions are particularly aimed at SMEs who want to expand internationally. During the trips, companies gather information about the country and its markets and meet other companies they have made appointments with. Participation is free, but participants are responsible for their own travel costs.

The market-scoping missions are on hold at the moment, but they will be relevant again when the coronavirus situation eases. You can find more information about EU-funded market-scoping missions here.

EU-funded company recommends engaging a consultant

Aurelia Turbines has announced on the Business Finland website that it has received over €2 million in EU funding. The company received phase 1 funding under the Horizon 2020 SME instrument the first time it applied. Phase 2 required several applications before the company was successful.

Aurelia Turbines develops turbine technologies. The company found the services of an experienced consultant vitally important, as the application is difficult to fill out. For the Lappeenranta-based company, the EU funding process enabled not just funding but also an opportunity to gain partners and subcontractors with completely new technology.

Don’t forget the SME InnovFin risk-sharing guarantee for SMEs, either. The goal of this guarantee is to improve SMEs’ access to credit.

Further information:

Calls for proposals to the LIFE programme are here

Applications to the Creative Europe programme

The closing date for applications to the media sector programme (including festival support) has been extended until May.

The COSME programme has applications open to SMEs from time to time. You can see applications that are currently open here.

Riikka Koskenranta