The evaluation process for the EU Innovation Fund consists of three steps. To boost the chances of success for your proposal, it is important to understand these steps and their associated award criteria. Are you currently preparing an application for the EU Innovation Fund programme? Then it's worth taking a behind-the-scenes look! To increase the chances of success for your application in the EU Innovation Fund, it is important to understand how applications are evaluated in this programme and what reviewers expect from you. In this article, we provide you with insights into the evaluation process in the Innovation Fund, along with the latest valuable recommendations from reviewers. Let’s explore them:

Step 1: Degree of Innovation

This step evaluates the level of innovation presented in the proposal. The EU Innovation Fund seeks projects that go beyond optimisations or incremental innovation, such as completely new, breakthrough technologies, processes, business models, products or services, which substitute existing ones. To score well in this criterion, highlight the uniqueness and disruptive nature of your technology, approach, or business model and do not forget to provide evidence and a clear explanation of the state-of-the-art.

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Source: CINEA, European Commission


Step 2: GHG Emission Avoidance Potential and Project Maturity

This step assesses two main aspects. Firstly, the potential impact of your project in terms of greenhouse gas emissions reduction is evaluated. Clearly demonstrate the expected GHG reduction and employ the correct methodologies for estimation as defined in the programme documents. Use tutorials made available as for example here. Secondly, the evaluators consider the maturity of your project. This includes technical, operational, and financial aspects, as well as risk management. Showcase the readiness of your solution along with a sound financing plan and robust risk mitigation strategies.

Step 3: Scalability and Cost Efficiency

The final step examines the scalability and cost efficiency of your project. Scalability of the project is evaluated by e.g. efficiency gains, resource utilization, technology deployment, and creating new value chains. The project's potential for cost-competitiveness, economic impacts, and job creation are also considered. The cost-efficiency of the project is evaluated by calculating the ratio between the requested grant and the absolute GHG emission avoidance.

Be aware: for your proposal to be rated on all criteria, you will have to pass the first criterion of Degree of Innovation. Only if you pass this criterion, your proposal will be further rated on GHG avoidance and project maturity and, lastly on scalability and cost efficiency. By addressing these evaluation criteria effectively, you increase your chances of securing funding from the EU Innovation Fund.

Lessons learned from Brussels: recommendations based on latest evaluators’ assessments

During several Info Days sessions (recordings available here), the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) and the European Commission's DG Climate Action have discussed and analysed past proposal results. Among given recommendations, we can highlight the following:

  • Define a comprehensive, realistic and consistent project timeline. The timeline should include both technical and financial elements.
  • Identify technical, financial and operational risks based on a comprehensive risk assessment. Therefore, write a convincing mitigation strategy across different types of risks.
  • Provide contractual evidence to ensure financial maturity with supporting letters
  • Ensure consistency between project implementation plan, feasibility study, Business plan and GHG calculations
  • Clearly describe the innovation in the individual elements of the proposed solution and, if relevant, of their combination and their respective degrees of innovation
  • Substantiate well the performance advancements compared to state-of-the-art solutions, provide credible performance data
  • Avoid inconsistencies of data, be consistent across all documentation
  • Get familiar with and follow the call methodologies and guidance (GHG and relevant costs)

Ready for the next call?

Next application deadline for the EU Innovation fund will be for Small Scale projects on 19th September 2023. If your project is selected, you might have the chance to win up to €4.5 million of funding for the upscaling of your innovative technology, showcase your project at European level, and making a considerable impact to the industrial decarbonization in Europe. The call for Large-Scale Projects in the Innovation Fund will be issued in the autumn of 2023 and a submission deadline is expected in the spring of 2024. We wish good luck to all applicants!

(Discover our valuable tips for a successful application to the EU Innovation Fund in our additional article. Be inspired and learn how to make your application a success.)

Do you need any help with your application?

EurA has gained extensive experience with the EU Innovation Fund programme in recent years. Are you also interested and would like to learn more? Then please contact us and we will support you in your application process.


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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