Mastering the EU Innovation Fund: Tips for an Effective Proposal Preparation

Your project would perfectly fit in the EU Innovation Fund programme, but while preparing your application, you don’t know where to start? The list of documents required for such an application can be a little overwhelming. In this article, we give you practical tips from our experience to consider in order to help you writing a winning Innovation Fund proposal.

(If you are not sure whether your project is suitable for the Innovation Fund, please also read our earlier article for a quick overview of the programme here).

Overview of key proposal documents

A proposal for the Innovation Fund demands several mandatory and optional documents which may differ a little depending on the type of project (small- / large-scale) and the time of the Call you are applying to. Before submitting your application, please be aware to always use the latest templates, call documents and guidance available on the EU Funding and Tenders portal. However, here is a short description of documents we have identified as most relevant for an Innovation Fund application:

     
 

Application Form Part B: 
This is the core document of the application, providing essential details about the project and applicants, including the degree of innovation, GHG emission avoidance potential, project maturity, scalability, cost efficiency, and a work plan with activities, milestones, and timing. It serves as a comprehensive overview for evaluating the project's technical aspects and feasibility.


Feasibility study: 
A comprehensive analysis that assesses the project's technical, economic, and operational viability. It considers factors such as resources, technology readiness, environmental considerations, and potential risks.


Business plan: 
A comprehensive roadmap that includes an executive summary, business proposition, market analysis, financing plan, financial projections, and risk mitigation strategies. It provides a detailed overview of the project's market viability, financial feasibility, and potential risks, offering a solid foundation for the project's success.


GHG emissions calculation: 
This document aims at quantifying the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction potential of with the project. It requires to use an appropriate methodology defined by the programme in the call documents.


Timetable/Gantt chart: 
A visualisation of the project's timeline, tasks, and key milestones. It provides a clear overview of the project's progress and helps ensuring efficient project management and coordination.


Detailed budget table/financial information: 
A comprehensive breakdown of the project's anticipated costs and expenses and financial projections related to the project.

 
Further useful supporting documents: 
These include Letters of Support from relevant stakeholders expressing their commitment or endorsement of the project, but also for example Memorandum of Understandings outlining collaborations or partnerships, and indicative terms of agreement for off-take agreements, key suppliers, or Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) parties. Important: These documents should not be neglected as they demonstrate external support, cooperation, and the project's feasibility.

 
     

Start proposal preparation as early as possible

An important factor to consider when preparing your application is the time required for the preliminary working steps, analyses and calculations needed to prepare the application – not to mention the preliminary time required to familiarize with the templates and methodologies of the Innovation Fund programme. If you have the opportunity to start well in advance, we recommend starting with background documents for the proposal, such as the feasibility study, the business plan as well as supporting documents, the latter being sometimes very time-intensive to acquire among external partners. But don’t forget to check the consistency of these documents with the overall application and update them before submission!


Set up a sound proposal project team

A further essential working step we recommend is the setting up of a qualified team with a size of 4-10 employees among your organisation and/or consortium for the Innovation Fund proposal preparation. For the proposal, many pieces of information must be gathered at different levels: financial, technical, environmental. Given the length of documents and their required meticulousness, you will probably have to gather data from different departments of your company, from project partners, investors, or if necessary, external experts (e.g. for an LCA analysis). In practice, we recommend establishing clear responsibilities among the team, appointing a proposal project manager who will collect the information centrally, arrange internal meetings, manage information exchange between partners, and monitor the overall time schedule and progress of proposal preparation.

Putting your vision on paper: The value of an Innovation Fund Proposal

All these efforts for a proposal seems laborious to you? Consider this: an Innovation Fund application can be seen as the backbone of your project. Many of the tasks required for such an application are steps you will probably need to undertake anyway to ensure the successful launch and implementation of your project – with or without funding. All application documents can be used to convince other financing entities, such as banks and investors, to invest in your project. It is worth the effort!
You can unlock the full potential of your project by submitting a compelling proposal to the Innovation Fund. Use the available methods and tools to present your ideas and vision and attract potential funding and support. Seize this significant opportunity to bring your project to life and translate your vision into reality with a strong proposal.
(Tip: also read our further article for more information on evaluation criteria and find out about reviewers’ recommendations).


Are you seeking assistance with your application?
At EurA, we have acquired extensive experience in the EU Innovation Fund programme in recent years. If you're interested and eager to acquire more information, feel free to contact us. We are dedicated to providing you guidance and can support you in every step of your application.


Author: Elpiniki Lamproglou

 

Florian Mrosek

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Florian Mrosek

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I work as a project and network manager at the Aachen site. I studied mechanical engineering at Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences with a focus on simulation and experimental technology. I then completed a Master of Business Administration at the PFH Private University of Applied Sciences Göttingen. I am ESA BIC Manager for NRW, contact person for the Space2Agriculture network, experienced in the acquisition of funding in the national (KMU-innovativ, ZIM, Forschungszulage) and international area (EIC Accelerator, Innovation Fund – small-scale & large-scale projects).
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