How to write a successful grant application
2016 will be very intensive in terms of funding possibilities for projects and investments. Here, you will find some advice on what to think about when drawing up your funding bid.
New ample funding opportunities await for European entrepreneurs throughout 2016-2017, especially in the areas of research and development (R&D), innovative manufacturing technologies and renewable energy. Both big and SME-companies can apply for funding. The largest funding amounts are offered by Horizon 2020, the biggest R&D funding programme run and administered by the European Commission. By the side of Horizon 2020, there are numerous national and regional funding opportunities for companies active within different branches of industry.
A considerable number of companies decide to identify funding sources for their projects and produce their grant applications on their own. However, the vast majority (around 90%) of those applications are rejected. We are frequently contacted by entrepreneurs who failed in applying for funding and who cannot understand the reasons behind the decision of the authorities. In many cases, we manage to turn those failures into success. In this article, we will take a closer look at two important factors for why GAEU Horizon 2020 Centre of Excellence succeeds so often when so many other entrepreneurs (and consultants) fail.
Misunderstanding 1 - "Bureaucrats do not understand entrepreneurship"
The assumption that the representatives of funding authorities usually are not cast in the same mold as entrepreneurs and business developers is certainly true, but this does not mean that they do not understand what determines whether a product idea has commercial potential or not – quite the opposite, they understand this very well. Your grant application will be reviewed by knowledgeable evaluators.
Advice: Realize that officials at funding authorities are competent and know what they are doing and that you have to do the homework and adopt the same attitude towards the funding authority as you do when you work to gain a new customer. Sure, the napkin is a wonderful tool when sketching up a new business idea, but what can fit on a napkin is not enough to convince a funding officer to grant your company a tax-funded subsidy.
Misunderstanding 2 - "We have the right quality, low price and good service"
All entrepreneurs can recite this mantra during the sleep. This is because entrepreneurs know that these three factors are the reason why they are successful on the market. The problem is that in the eyes of funding authorities these are considered to be hygiene factors and do not generate any additional points in the assesment process. Project evaluators measure different things. In the R&D projects, for instance, the innovation level of the product to be developed and the R&D effort undertaken are often of great interest. Furthermore, the evaluators will be interested to know whether the project has potential to strengthen your company’s long term competitiveness on the international market. The third important factor will be the team that will work with the project. You need to convince the authority that your company has the organizational capacity to realize the project and turn the project idea into a marketable product.
Advice: Understand that the mission of funding authorities is to stimulate innovation and business development to the benefit of businesses and/or communities. Therefore, do not build your application using your standard sales phrases. Meet the assessors’ measurement points.