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Hackernoon logoBlockchain Grants in the EU - How To Get Some in 2020 by@golubev

Blockchain Grants in the EU - How To Get Some in 2020

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@golubevGolubev_Od_UA

Crynet.io (project manager), EU structural funds, ICO/STO/IEO, NGO & venture, marketing projects

First I want to draw your attention to the fact that Horizon 2020 does not only turn around the blockchain. This is not true! The main motto “Science closer to society’’!

This means a wide range of interests of the European Commission in the field of science and innovations. The program supports a wide range of activities: from research to demonstration projects and innovations that are ready to enter the market.

Horizon 2020 combines funding for research and innovation, implemented at the EU level, offers a single set of simplified rules and radically minimizes bureaucratic procedures. Horizon 2020 is based on three main priorities taken from the main guidelines of the EU’s economic development strategy “Europe 2020’’ each of which includes a number of programs:

№1 Excellent Science — 24,6 bln €

  • The European Research Council (ERC) (Support talented and creative scientists and research teams to conduct advanced high-level research through the ERC)
  • Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) (Scientific cooperation in order to find new and promising areas of research through support for future and emerging technologies);
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (Providing researchers with opportunities for learning and career development within the framework of the Mari Sklodowska Curie Action Program);
  • Research Infrastructures (Providing access for all European researchers to high-quality research infrastructures (including e-infrastructures)

№2 Societal challenges — 31,7 bln €

  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing (improve health and wellness throughout life);
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy (ensuring an adequate supply of safe and high-quality food products, and other products derived from biological raw materials, thanks to the development of raw materials production systems with rational use of resources, stimulation of ecosystem services associated with this development, along with the provision of competitive and low-carbon production processes);
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy (transition to reliable, sustainable and competitive energy systems, despite increasing resource shortages, energy needs and climate change);
  • Smart, green and integrated transport (the creation of a European transport system that will ensure the rational use of resources will be environmentally safe, smooth and safe in favor of citizens, the economy and society);
  • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials (creating an economy that rationally uses resources and adapts to climate change and ensuring a stable supply of materials to meet the needs of the population of a growing world population, in the environmentally sound limits of the planet’s natural resources);
  • Secure societies — protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens (stimulating innovative and safe European societies that provide equal opportunities to all in the context of unprecedented transformations and growing global interdependence)

№3 Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies — 17,9 bln €

1. Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies:

  • Information and communication technologies (New generation of components and systems, New generation of computerized systems, development of the Internet, Information management technologies, New interfaces and works, Micro- and nanoelectronics and photonics);
  • Nanotechnologies (Development of a new generation of nanomaterials, nanodevices and nanosystems, ensuring the safe development and use of nanotechnologies, the development of public measurement of nanotechnologies, effective synthesis and manufacture of nanomaterials, the development of technology, measurement methods and equipment that increase productivity, focusing on the main technologies that promote development and market entry of complex nanomaterials and nanosystems);
  • Advanced materials (Interindustry technologies based on advanced materials, Development and conversion of materials, Materials for environmentally rational and low-carbon industry, Materials for new industries, Metrology, performance testing, standardization and quality control, optimization of material use);
  • Biotechnology (advanced biotechnology, Industrial processes based on biotechnology);
  • Advanced manufacturing and processing;
  • Space (The specific task of research and innovation in the space industry is to develop a competitive and innovative space industry, and the scientific community, which will develop and use the space infrastructure to support future EU policies and public needs);

2. Access to risk finance;

3. Innovation in SMEs (small & medium enterprises)

After carefully reading the above priorities, I do not recommend you to be skeptical about what is considered primary in the EU before capitalist commercialization.

Working with the EU, you should get used to the fact that the European Commission took all the best that was in the socio-economic policy of the socialist bloc. Social aspects of EU residents, human capital development and life improvement are primary for the EU, and when reading the conditions of grants and signing agreements with the European Commission, you should always remember that income and profit are important, but the person and his needs are always in the EU priority.

Moreover, when working on your blockchain projects, you should always emphasize how your idea of even a fantastic and super capitalist blockchain will improve the habitat and living conditions of EU citizens. Include your fantasy in part of the project justification. It is clear that such a hierarchy of goals and objectives in terms of the implementation of the Horizon 2020 program is impossible without clear requirements and compliance with certain points of the European bureaucracy and requirements for participation and to program participants. Now the general rules are in order, but also remember that each grant or actions has its own details, which you should carefully study:

Financing schemes

In the program Horizon 2020 there are mainly 3 types of projects:

  • research projects
  • Projects close to the innovation market
  • Support and coordination activities

In Horizon 2020 there are two types of activities, as research and innovation. With the exception of some actions under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie action, such activities include a consortium of several organizations from EU countries, associated countries or third countries. The consortium selects one of the members as the coordinator and signs the grant agreement.

Grants can be financed at 100% of the total eligible costs (except for innovative grants, where profitable organizations receive a maximum of 70%). Indirect costs are financed at a rate of 25% of direct eligible costs. Most of the grants will be funded under the direct cost recovery scheme, but some of the grants (for example, as part of Marie Sklodowska-Curie’s actions) will be funded by a one-time payment method (Lamp Sum).

Projects will be evaluated according to three main criteria:

  • Perfection
  • Contribution
  • Quality and effectiveness of implementation

The terms of participation

Minimum conditions:

a. At least three legal entities must participate in projects (sometimes with the exception of SME actions)

b. Each of these three legal entities must be based in the EU member country, in the candidate country or in the associated country (a list of candidate and associated countries can be found on the euro commission website);

c. No two of the three legal entities may be based in the same EU Member State or in an associated country;

d. All three legal entities must be independent of each other

Participants:

a. any legal entity established in a Member State of the EU or in a candidate country or an associated country, or established under EU law;

b. any international organization with the participation of the EU;

c. any legal entity based in a third country (a list of recommended third countries can also be found on the Euro Commission website)

If an international organization or a legal entity based in a third country that does not meet the specified funding criteria participates in the program, EU funding may be provided, under certain conditions; one of the following conditions:

a. The participation of such an organization or legal entity is deemed necessary to carry out an activity (consortium);

b. Such funding is provided by a bilateral science and technology agreement or any other agreement between the EU and an international organization or, in the case of legal entities based in third countries, between the EU and the country in which the legal entity was founded.

Those who are usually classified as participants in joint projects (categories RIA, IA, CSA and others) are legal entities: universities, research and development centers, industrial partners, small and medium-sized businesses, public organizations.

According to the rules, several such participants form a consortium with their project management center. The main requirements for the consortium — the competencies of the partners comply with the objectives of the competition and the project, complementarity, the ability to show product development according to the TRL scale (at least in research projects from the state of the idea to a working prototype).

Joint calls (actions) for proposals with third countries or international organizations

  1. General calls for proposals with third countries, research organizations and bodies of such countries, or with international organizations can be carried out for co-financing activities. Proposals should be evaluated and selected using agreed joint assessment and selection procedures between the parties.
  2. Legal entities that receive funding from the EU must enter into a financing agreement with the EU or the relevant funding body. The financing agreement must contain a description of the work that participants and legal entities from third countries participating in the program must perform.
  3. Legal entities that receive funding from the EU must enter into a coordination agreement with legal entities participating in the program; receive funding from the relevant third countries or international organizations.

Type of actions (grants)

For a clear understanding of the system of grants and methods of financing your projects, the information will be presented in table format.

Table 1 Horizon 2020 Grant Specification

Registration on the Participant Portal

The system of filing documents and application forms is automated on the platform. Apply only online. Registration on the participant Portal Horizon 2020 gives you huge bonuses. Registered users have the opportunity to submit project proposals for actions, sign grants, as well as manage their projects. All this can be done by following the instructions on, you need to find the REGISTER button, which is in the upper right corner, where the European Identification Service page opens (ECAS).

Search for partners

It is clear that the projects have a partnership character and a consortia format. The EU relies on the collective work of various institutions from different countries — a kind of internationalization and globalization of science and innovation. In such projects, the main thing is not only your super idea, but also your ability to work in a team and skillfully solve various team issues. If you already have specific partners, this makes it easier for you to work, but you should not forget to add them to the participant portal of the Horizon 2020. However, if there are no partners, the European Commission provides several tools for finding them:

SME instrument

In my opinion, the most promising for blockchain are grants under the category of SME

The Funding and Tenders Portal is the single entry point (the Single Electronic Data Interchange Area) for applicants…ec.europa.eu

(besides those actions that were described by me in the previous article). SME — small and medium enterprise. It is worth to remember what SME is under the EU regulation. SMEs are defined in the EU recommendation 2003/361

5. Enterprises may make a declaration of status as an autonomous enterprise, partner enterprise or linked enterprise…eur-lex.europa.eu

The main factors determining whether an enterprise is an SME are staff headcount either turnover or balance sheet total.

Table 2 SME under EU recommendation 2003/361

However, enterprises are not considered SME if more than 25% of their capital belongs to organizations with state participation, not counting institutional and venture capital investment companies, universities and research centers, and small municipal bodies.

The total budget specifically for actions in the framework of SME — about 2.5 billion euros from 2014 to 2020. At the same time, remember that the blockchain projects are allocated from 2018 to 2020 — up to 340 million euros, in addition to the SME instrument. In order to participate and be qualified, a number of legal requirements must be met. Your small and medium-sized enterprise meets the SME criteria in the EU, is officially registered (in the EU or associated country/candidate country), registration data, financial and tax reports for reporting periods are available on the participant Portal Horizon 2020.

According to your charter, you are also engaged in innovative activities, you already have your own unique innovative product at a level not lower than TRL6 (Technical Reediness Level) — you have a working prototype that is ready for refinement to become mass production.

SME instrument has few types of action (phase 1 & phase 2), that been considered in the table 1. Now in details:

Phase 1 — helps you get a grip on the R&D, technical feasibility and commercial potential of a ground-breaking, innovative idea and develop it into a credible business plan for scaling it up. Activities can include, for example, risk assessment, market research, user involvement, analysis of regulatory constraints or standards regimes, intellectual property management, partner search, or feasibility assessment.

Your goal in Phase 1 is to formulate a solid, high-potential innovation project with a European or global growth-oriented strategy. Your proposal must be based on an initial business plan and outline the specifications of a more elaborate one, which will be the outcome of the project. Phase 1 funding is a lump sum of €50 000. Projects should last around 6 months.

Phase 2 — helps you develop your business concept further into a market-ready product, service or process aligned with your company’s growth strategy. Activities could, for example, include trials, prototyping, validation, demonstration and testing in real-world conditions, and market replication. If the activity concerns a primarily technological innovation, a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6 or above is envisaged.

You can apply to Phase 1 as a means of preparing for Phase 2, or you can apply directly to Phase 2 — Your proposal must be based on a strategic business plan that was either developed in Phase 1 or by another means. Your proposal must specify the expected outcome of the project and criteria for success, as well as the expected impacts on your company in both qualitative and quantitative terms (e.g. on turnover, employment, market size, IP management, sales, return on investment, or profitability). You must pay particular attention to IP protection and ownership, and present convincing evidence or measures to ensure the possibility of commercial exploitation (often known as ‘freedom to operate’). You should also address regulatory and standardization issues. Grant funding is provided (funding rate 70%) of between €0.5 million and €2.5 million. Your project should normally take 12 to 24 months to complete.

Phase 3 — helps you take advantage of additional EU support extended via a range of business support services offered on the EIC Community Platform, open to SMEs benefiting from the different EIC calls for proposals. This support can take the form of training, links to investors, partnering and networking with other EIC SME clients and larger firms and services to help you access international markets, e.g. via participation in overseas trade fairs. Phase 3 is not necessarily subsequent to Phase 1 or Phase 2; it provides specific support to EIC SME clients, mainly to help them access new markets or customers and link with investors. It does not provide direct funding.

Small, innovative, companies create the majority of new jobs in the European economy. Technological advances are making it easier and cheaper to start enterprises with limited own resources — but SMEs often struggle to scale up and create new jobs, including recruiting talent.

There is a wide range of public sector support through grants, subsidized loans, equity, and innovation support services. Yet SMEs are often dissatisfied with these, while at the same time the public expects a higher return from the support provided. The following call for proposals is one element of a broader action to address these challenges and develop the ecosystem of innovation support to SMEs in Europe.

Generally, the actions are designed to provide opportunities to Member States and regions to enhance their services through collaboration, and peer-learning. The emphasis is on further testing new approaches for better innovation support, such as blockchain technologies, workplace innovation, a network for Open Innovation, training on advanced manufacturing, experimentation in innovation agencies and a tool for investors in financing SMEs.

SME Instrument is very selective. Only the most convincing and excellent proposals can be funded after a thorough evaluation by multinational panels of technology, business and finance experts. Selected companies receive funding and are offered business coaching to scale up their innovation idea, and can also receive mentoring. They are helped in networking with other SME Instrument clients, with other companies of all sizes, and with potential co-investors and follow-up investors across Europe.

As an SME Instrument client, you will gain visibility and boost your chances of success in European and international markets. There are no set topics. Negative impacts on climate and the environment should be avoided.

Therefore, along with the blockchain and its innovative implementation in various areas of production and services, the following areas of innovation financing are relevant: in ICT, nanotechnology, biotechnology, space, biotechnology in medicine, agriculture and forestry, agro-industry, “Blue growth” (marine biotechnology, ocean energy, fisheries), energy, transport, climate, resource efficiency and natural resources, socio-cultural area, security. No deadlines.

Obviously, within the framework of Horizon 2020 for fraudsters and scammers there are no chances to be funded for fictitious projects and ideas, since the European Commission uses a strict system of checking applicants, their past achievements and service record. It requires projects be in the main consortia format, which means the participation of many EU-verified stakeholders in the project, and conducts a rigid system of monitoring intermediate results and auditing the budget of funded projects. However, for those who are confident in their ideas and who have no malicious intent — the door is open to participation in grant actions within the framework of Horizon 2020.

Sergiy Golubyev (Сергей Голубев)

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