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A route to the relevant funding sources ("getting through the maze")

The aim of the guide

Although plenty of information is available on the different EU funding sources, potential beneficiaries are often still confused, in particular when it comes to deciding which source of funding is most appropriate for a given activity. The aim of this guide is therefore to help potential applicants for EU funding for research and innovation to find their way to relevant information on funding opportunities ("getting through the maze") in order to identify the most suitable choices among the relevant EU programmes. Given the very wide range of activities that can be funded, the text of the guide cannot itself answer every question. However, it will direct the reader straight to the relevant source of information.

The checklist

In order to determine which programme or funding source is the most relevant to support your idea, 6 key questions have been identified that will guide you to the relevant funding opportunities:

For each of the five funding sources, the answers to these questions will vary. Therefore, we have developed the Checklist attached to this guide that provides – by funding source – both a brief answer to the question and links to numerous supplementary sources of information.

The scorecard

As you proceed through the Checklist and answer the six questions, you can fill the results in the Scorecard (Annex 7) by allocating a "+" for each positive response, a "?" for an intermediate response (Maybe, Limited, Sometimes) and a "-" for a negative response.

In order for your project idea to have a chance for funding under a specific programme or sub-programme, you need to have all "+" or "?" in the line of the scorecard for that programme or sub-programme. A "-" means that your project idea could not receive funding under the given programme or sub-programme.

The scores you note in the scorecard will indicate how your project idea could fit under one or more programmes. However, this does not mean that you will automatically receive funding or that it is efficient to apply for funding under all programmes that achieve high scores. A few general rules that need to be borne in mind are described below.

The EU funding schemes: some general rules

  • In the case of FP7 and CIP (except for the Community Financial Instruments for SMEs)

The funding in the form of grants is normally allocated through the publication of "calls for proposals", meaning that project ideas have to be submitted by a certain deadline, comply with clearly defined themes and have the required partnership structure, usually trans-national. In other words, it is not possible simply to spontaneously apply to the Commission for assistance.

After the deadline, all proposals under a call will then be examined by a panel of evaluators to check their eligibility and to assess their quality. Funding will be awarded only for the best project proposals within the limits of the total available budget. In other words, even if a proposal meets the quality requirements, it might not get funding. In addition, under FP7, your project proposal might have to be modified (e.g. regarding its budget structure, types of actions, composition of the consortium) in the course of negotiation of the grant agreement. Please note that this is also the case for Intelligent Energy Europe and will be for CIP Eco-innovation.

Even though calls for proposal are the main tool to allocate funds, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme of CIP provides an exception in this respect. Many of its measures are aimed at policy-support, for which SMEs benefit indirectly, and therefore the intervention mechanisms are not only calls for proposals but also tenders and other types of support. For the intervention mechanisms of the CIP Financial Instruments for SMEs (see Annex 2 for more detailed information).

  • In the case of FP7 Direct Actions the JRC purchases support for its own scientific work programme in a range of thematic areas: Towards a more competitive and open economy; Development of a low carbon society; Sustainable management of natural resources; Safety of food and consumer products; Nuclear safety and security; Security and crisis management; Reference materials and measurements: by maintaining a strong reference role in the area of standards and reference measurements. In each of these thematic areas purchases of goods and services above a certain value (currently €60.000) are generally made through open calls for tender under the Service or the Supply Procurement Directives. Direct negotiations with possible suppliers are restricted to very specific circumstances, and usually to amounts below the threshold mentioned.

    The assessment of tenderers and their offers takes place in four main stages, each undertaken by European Commission staff. The four stages are 1) Exclusion of tenderers; 2) Selection of tenderers; 3) Evaluation of offers; 4) Award of the contract. The assessment is based on the information and documents provided by the tenderer against criteria set in the Call for Tender.
  • In the case of the Structural Funds
    As the management of the Structural Funds is decentralised, each region or Member State has developed, in discussion with the Commission and all relevant private and public stakeholders, one or more operational programmes. These are tailored to the socio-economic challenges in the Member State or region, but may not use all the possible funding themes and models provided under the SF Regulations. The main point to note therefore is that, although the Checklist will indicate that most types of applicant, research/innovation activity, etc. have a positive score, not every region will be covered by an operational programme that supports the particular research or innovation activity you have in mind. You will need to check this with the Managing Authority in charge of the programme in question (see Annex 4 for the list of Managing Authorities).

Also, application procedures (e.g. ongoing applications and project selection, calls for proposals on specific topics or competitions with fixed deadlines, etc.) and types of funding (grant, service/supply contract, financial instrument) are decided by the Managing Authority for the operational programme in question, depending on what is most appropriate for the activities envisaged. Project selection criteria are agreed by each operational programme's Monitoring Committee and are published (e.g. on Managing Authority websites). Projects will be evaluated according to these criteria.

Bear in mind in addition that a research or innovation project submitted to a Structural Funds programme will be judged on its likely contribution to the economic development of the Member State or region as well as on its scientific or technological quality.

(πηγή: Εuropean Commission)

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