Collaboration is key for overcoming challenges and finding suitable solutions for a group of actors. It will show itself to benefit society as a whole. Collaboration is also the baseline of European projects. Jointly tackling common challenges and issues generates a rich solution with inputs from different actors, which means a diverse and less biased solution. These solutions will ultimately be beneficial at local, regional, national, and European level, creating common worth for individual problems which also represent a broader challenge.
Horizon 2020 and, from next year, Horizon Europe, offer a great variety of working programmes looking for innovative and impactful solutions to European problems. One can apply for funding by offering solutions to those problems in a project proposal which, if approved, receives support to start implementing said solution. Nonetheless, participation is not necessarily easy, since applicants must present robust plans to the European Commission in order to be chosen. To this end, and also following the EC requirements, collaborative consortiums are to be built. Applying for H2020 and Horizon Europe funding requires extra effort for those lacking in experience.
In the case of development agencies, many focus their work on assisting companies with their start-up phase, scaling-up process, and consolidation. Nevertheless, SMEs often face a lack of resources for putting their innovative ideas into practice and turning them into innovative products, technologies, or services. This particular problem is also a challenge for development agencies.
There is one particular call EURADA has consistently promoted and continues to highly encourage development agencies to try applying for: the Peer learning of innovation agencies (INNOSUP-05) call. This call not only offers the opportunity to build a consortium to tackle common problems and find an enriching solution for all, but is also the best choice for development agencies to make their first steps into H2020 calls.
This call is not especially complex to apply for. Normally, building up a consortium takes time, effort, and a huge knowledge of relevant stakeholders and contacts. Lacking just one consortium member high suited for the team might result in a less attractive proposal. For INNOSUP-05, only three innovation agencies are required. Those three agencies must team up to tackle a common problem for the three territories they operate in, with the aim not only of promoting peer learning activities and exchange good practices, but also of investigating and jointly developing new topics and approaches in innovation support to SMEs with an intention to put newly developed skills into practice.
The approved projects will get a sum lump sum of €50 000 to engage in peer learning activities on all topics relevant for the design and delivery of innovation support programmes for SMEs with the objective of making a positive practice more widespread amongst them. These programmes should be challenge-driven, based on an agency’s intention to revise its programme formats or introduce a new scheme, and lead to the development of a common understanding of a given support service.
Finally, a positive aspect to consider is that the proposal to be submitted should not be longer than 30 pages. This means less work and time to be spent on writing, though designing the action itself will still require as much time and thought as otherwise.
To sum up, accepted projects will get funding to engage the consortium members in peer learning and exchange of good practices activities, with the aim of developing solutions and skills to better design and implement innovation support programmes for SMEs. The call is a relatively straightforward way to get into working on Horizon projects, with a rate of project approval of over 50%. All the projects will have to justify their work with a document called a Design Option Paper, the result of their peer-learning process realised which documents the existing options, guidelines, and implementation alternatives that other agencies facing the common problem can put into practice.
The programming period for 2014-2020 is almost over and we are reaching the final calls within H2020. Every little opportunity to engage in European projects until the end of 2020 will mean a financing bridge until new funding from Horizon Europe is available. As already described, the approval rate is high and, with a well-written proposal, there are many chances for this funding to be available to you as a bridge until 2021.
On the other hand, this call will most likely also be available in Horizon Europe. Collaboration is key in finding common solutions to a common need and this call is vital for reaching a point of satisfactory support for SMEs across Europe, with good communication amongst regional and national practitioners.
The EURADA secretariat is always happy to help its members. Since we recommend this call so highly and consider it a very strategic one for Regional Development Agencies, we want to give our members as good chances as possible.
For that reason we will be happy to help you find partners for this call; to help you with the writing of your proposal, both proof-reading your proposal and advising you and in starting drafting your proposal from your idea; to provide you with a mock proposal we have developed; and to answer any questions you may have.
Overall, this is a very important call with particularly interesting outcomes. Moreover, it is very accessible for Agencies both with and without experience in H2020.
Following this link, you will find the INNOSUP-05 call.
Here you can find the work programme of Innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises.
Following this link, you will find all the Design Option Papers conducted until now and their summaries.
If you would like to take a look at the webpage of the Brokerage Event of Innovation Agencies organised by EURADA this year, where INNOSUP-05 is key, please follow this link.
If you have any questions or would like to request any of the aforementioned services provided by EURADA, please contact our colleague Roser TORRES.
Written by Roser Torres, Project Officer at EURADA.