How to apply for millions in EU grant money

By: August 31, 2020
how to apply for european grant money

The EU has made billions of euro available to SMEs in grants. How difficult is it to get access to this money? Not difficult, once you go about it the right way.

Irish businesses have, to date, secured over €130m in Horizon 2020 EIC Pilot grants and are thriving in several sectors.

The Republic of Ireland is way out in front when it comes to the benefits of Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot grants, but what are EIC Pilot grants and how can Irish businesses access this money?

Keep in mind, the competition to access EU funds is incredibly fierce. Only the highest-quality applications now receive the support.

What is the H2020 EIC Pilot?
The Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot serves to support those looking to launch bold, high-risk, innovations and new technologies. It recognises that these innovative steps will create brand new markets, boost employment, and bring prosperity to Europe.

There are two schemes at play here:
The EIC Pathfinder pilot (grant only), consisting of FET-Open and FET-Proactive.
The EIC Accelerator pilot (grant only and blended finance), which builds upon the previous SME Instrument.

See more about the Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot.

Ireland’s punches above its weight
Ireland has certainly punched above its weight in H2020 EIC performance, particularly regarding EIC Accelerator pilot grants.

Irish firms have successfully secured funding to the tune of an incredible €130 million, according to the EIC Accelerator data hub.

This puts the country 11th out of 39 eligible countries; a big achievement when you think that Ireland is home to only around 3.6 million adults. By contrast, Spain claimed the most at just over €375 million but it’s indeed a much larger country with over ten times the adult population.

Ireland has been a big spender on healthcare innovation too, with EIC grants currently amounting to almost €55.8 million. This has been driven by the huge investment made by Irish researchers and pharmaceuticals towards finding vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.

Only Israel and France, with €61.3 million and €59.8 million respectively, have spent more of their EIC grant funding on healthcare R&D.

Finally, the EIC Fast Track to Innovation data hub also makes for interesting reading. Data shows that 17 projects in Ireland were given the funding – only slightly behind the UK’s 19 – placing Ireland in the top five for EU countries.

Everything points to the fact that the Republic of Ireland is flying the flag for European innovation and its R&D prospects are going from strength-to-strength.

Case Study: OmniSpirant
Last year, Myriad Associates was proud to facilitate a mountainous €9.4 million of EU grant funding to support the R&D efforts of Irish firm OmniSpirant.

Lead by its R&D team leader, Gerry McCauley, the company has been using the money to develop tailored aerosol delivery technology for the treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other debilitating respiratory conditions. This also includes COVID-19.

Worryingly, Ireland’s death rate from respiratory diseases is the fourth highest in the EU-28 and 38.2% higher than the EU average, according to 2018 research by the Irish Thoracic Society.

It’s a huge, silent killer in those over the age of 35, making Tipperary-based OmniSpirant’s work even more vital.

This substantial grant was awarded by the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, to OmniSpirant Ltd, Aerogen Ltd and the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland. It was the culmination of months of work, and the hope is that this exciting new technology could save thousands of lives worldwide.

Life beyond H2020: Introducing Horizon Europe
On June 7, 2018, when Horizon Europe was unveiled, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, pitched it as, “One of Europe’s biggest success stories.”

What is Horizon Europe?
Horizon Europe comes into force at the end of this year and follows on from Horizon 2020 which began in 2014.
The vision is that Horizon Europe will be even bigger and bolder than the programme before it, through increased funding for the European Research Council.

This additional funding will mean that the EU can continue as a dominant R&D player on the global stage, re-engaging citizens by setting ambitious new EU research missions. It’s all about modern funding streams and ground-breaking European innovation.

Officially, it has been stated that the main objectives of Horizon Europe are:
● To strengthen the EU’s technological and scientific foundations and the European Research Area (ERA).
● To increase the capacity for EU-based innovation, creating jobs and boosting competitiveness.
● To fulfil the priorities of citizens and maintain the socio-economic value.

What’s the difference between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe?
The main difference between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe is that while Horizon 2020 was based around seven key societal challenges, Horizon Europe identifies five overarching Global Challenges that require action. These are:
● Climate, Energy, and Mobility (€15 billion)
● Digital and Industry (€15 billion)
● Food and Natural Resources (€10 billion)
● Health (€7.7 billion over seven years)
● Inclusive and Secure Society (€2.8 billion)

Horizon Europe is also divided into three distinct elements:
● Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness (€52.7 billion budget)
● Open Science (€25.8 billion budget)
● Open Innovation (€13.5 billion budget)

Why use a specialist bid writer when claiming an EU innovation grant?
There’s no doubt that R&D grant funding is a crucial ingredient in Ireland’s ongoing R&D success.
But the competition is incredibly fierce, and only the highest-quality applications now earn the cash. This means putting in the right amount of time and resources so that a clear, focussed narrative can be crafted.
It’s also essential that companies take advice from specialist bid writers at an early stage.

These specialists have the skills and knowledge to assist with identifying the most suitable funding options available and facilitating the whole bid writing process. After all, when you’ve been up close to a project for some time, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees.

A specialist bid writer will be able to tease out the essentials that the assessors look for, and make sure the application stands out from the rest.

The rules around R&D grant funding change regularly, so staying abreast of developments is crucial. This again is where specialist bid writers can help by bringing their knowledge and up-to-date skills to the table.

When it comes to R&D, Ireland has a bright future, with innovative companies at the heart of its success.

About the author
This article is by Barrie Dowsett, CEO at Myriad Associates. Dowsett is responsible for overseeing all R&D tax credits claims and R&D grant applications. With over 15 years of experience, Dowsett ensures that every R&D tax claim is maximised and that his clients have the best chance of securing grant funding.