Getting funds from the EU is not a Mission Impossible. Tips & Tricks.
6 minute read
Wondering where you can get access to EU funds if you are running a promising enterprise? Are you afraid that getting and managing your EU funds will cost you more overhead than actual focus on your core tech staff? Not to worry.c*funds has now dedicated 2 years to gather the best tips & tricks on how to tap into the EU funding channels.
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The no. 1 problem – A scattered EU funding market: a smart, comprehensive compass on EU funds for tech start ups is missing.
There are a lot of well established consultancies offering EU funding consulting and training. They promise to have 20 years experience in EU funding and offer you the same inaccessible globe of infinite funding opportunities (often R&D related) which are as sticky and complex as the EU websites. You easily get lost, discouraged.
To close this gap, c*funds has launched different services to ease up the way for tech startups to get EU funding. During the last 2 years, we have worked with 48 amazing, bold CEO’s from promising tech start ups all over Europe which has also helped us to understand their pressing need for clarity around EU startup funding. We don’t believe in fuzzy company websites which only show logo’s & links, but no evidence and real statements on what you can gain. We help you to stay realistic about the efforts needed for creating a successful grant application and to find you the best achievable EU grant match.
In case you have started to think about accessing EU funds we have created an easy and compact overview of relevant funding schemes:
Use and spread this EU fundraising overview, which is made with laser sharp focus on fundraising & love for great entrepreneurs.
To help you even further with EU funding and investments we would like to share 5 tips and ideas to help you:
1) Consortium (collaborative) projects is more pain to set up but more chance to win.
There are a couple of EU schemes that request a minimum of 2 or 3 participating companies, based in different EU countries, which need to collaborate in order to apply. Examples are FTI (Fast Track to Innovation) and EUROSTARS.
These grants are much less competitive due to the collaborative aspect.
These grants have been set up to help fully commercialize your well designed prototype and to stimulate scaling. We love these grants. The templates are not too complex and you only need a complementary team of 2-3 startups (academia can also participate). These sector specific consortium calls (e.g. COSME, FTI etc.) have a winning chance of around 10-30%, depending on the scheme and you can apply 2-3 times a year.
2) SME Instrument – highly competitive – but an amazing tool to generate a serious business and investment plan.
You can apply as a single applicant to the SME1 and SME2 grants which makes them popular, therefore leading to lower winning chances (5-10%). The templates for these proposals have evolved incredibly. Within the EU, the SME1 and SME2 proposal templates can be considered as the most progressive and business conform EU template ever. There are 4 cut offs per year so even if you don’t get funded in the first round you can resubmit your proposal 4 times a year! If you do not get funded we often see that startups that receive high scores for their proposal (seal of excellence), reuse the EU proposal as an Investment Plan after some reshuffling. For Series A investments you can take this document as a proof of evidence for conducting your business thoughtfully. The EU template will ‘force’ you to make your business canvas, USP overview, smart competitor analyses and to produce a professional workflow planning for the coming 6 till 36 months. So, if you see the benefits of having a smart business plan – you will never lose on this grant. Regardless of the outcome of submitting this grant, the proposal in itself is invaluable.
3) Spend time & resources on design.
Evaluating EU grants is almost an eye blinding activity. Tiny letters and often (quite boring) compressed selling pitches.
“Investing in design creates an immediate confidence around your product” (Paul van Elk – art director c*funds)
With many cases there are page maximums but it really should not be a goal in itself to reach this maximum! Less jargon and more intelligent, appealing text that answers the tasks/template. Use and invest in eye-catching design. Put evidence of your product development in the proposal to impress the evaluators. Use minimalistic design that reflects your corporate identity and your values. c*funds has from the beginning invested in high-end design for the proposals that we write and in all other communication tools that we use. And it pays off. Every time.
4) Be ambitious, show your team, be authentic.
Demonstrate the evolution of your company, show you are not a complete starter. Show the founders behind the team. Show your team with energizing photos and what are your team’s current strengths and define what are you lacking. Match the requested EU funds to your current development level, size and capability of your team, do not oversize or downsize.
5) Integrate with investments.
As a last learning in our fundraising activities we see a new emerging trend.
It is no longer either/or when it comes to equity taking investments or equity free EU grants.
It can easily be done parallel to each other. Actually the EU ‘gift’ will free your mind about Term Sheets and promising discounts for the next share emissions etc. An EU grant is a great business booster that supports your independent growth path. The EU grant writing can directly support your investment collection, as in approx. 5 weeks you are fully instructed on how to write a professional Commercial Exploitation Plan for the coming 24 months (SME2 grant) that can be used perfectly in your investment strategy. c*funds is your partner on seamlessly combining and providing access to these 2 funding gates.
Feel free to contact us for a fundraising quick-scan (30min free) where we discuss your company and its funding and/or investment possibilities or send any other questions and remarks to firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay bold;-) and non-compromising!