2822 SMEs applied for funding under the SME Instrument phase 1

According to the latest report from the European Commission, 2822 proposals for the SME Instrument Phase 1 have been submitted before the latest cut-off date on 13 February 2019, to compete for a chance to win a lump sum funding of €50,000 to carry out a concept and feasibility study.

Overall, SMEs from 39 countries submitted proposals, with Spanish applicants sitting at the top of the charts with the biggest number of proposals for this batch (428), followed closely by Italian (384) and Swedish applicants (160).

The most popular areas of activity for applicants were ICT, health and engineering. Since 2018, the SME Instrument is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. A novelty under the EIC pilot is that applications are fully bottom-up. Therefore as there are no longer set topics, proposals are classified according to keywords introduced by applicants. The top keywords introduced were, ICT, health and engineering and technology.

Stay tuned – results will come out in late March 2019. 

Source: EASME

We at RedKnight wish to thank all the participants who entrusted us with their proposals and we wish all our clients the best of luck!! The next round of calls for this competitions will start from 7 May 2019. If you are interested in competing for the SME Instrument (Phase 1 or Phase 2), but you are not sure where to begin, contact RedKnight for a free consultancy.


A "flexible" Horizon Europe amid UK and Switzerland fear for exclusion

According to the European Commission research chief Jean-Eric Paquet, Horizon Europe will offer more "flexibility" to foreign countries that wish to join the new EU’s biggest ever R&D programme, which will run for seven years from 2021. The idea, said Jan -Eric Paquet, is to offer association membership that would allow former Third countries to participate in EU research under the same conditions as member states. This is indeed a proposal that already has stirred some interest from important partners (such as Canada) and it is expected to induce more foreign partners - at least between 20/30 - to seek association. However, although this is looks like a very promising development to the "open door" policy issued by the European  Commission, internal disagreement and, a legal framework that still makes any EU programme too bureaucracy-intensive and, therefore, less appealing to major countries such as the US. On top of that, the most ambitious R&D programme ever, might risk losing two of the most influential countries.

As a matter of fact, Horizon Europe includes in its preliminary legal text a category of countries that may be barred from programmes designed to encourage innovation. The proposal still needs to be approved by member states yet, if the text is not amended, the whole programme is indeed destined to kick-off in 2021 amid serious uncertainties around the status both the UK and Switzerland will hold in the programme.

Swiss fears

With regards to the Alpine country, Swiss researchers have already experienced the effect of an exclusion from EU R&D funding when, in 2014, Switzerland was temporary relegated to third country status, with no access at all to important opportunities, such as the SME Instrument. The decision, due to an issue of migration quotas, caused the country to fall rapidly from a 3.9% to just 0.3% of all project coordination between 2014 -2016.

When it comes to the new programme, instead, Switzerland has been classified in category 4 of non-EU states.  Strictly speaking, this new classification should not affect funding of Swiss research projects however, the heads of Switzerland’s two Federal Institutes of Technology, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and  and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have recently voiced their concerns that funding restrictions could apply anyway, unless a political settlement between Swiss and EU politicians is reached.

UK Research between a "no deal" and pledges to "fully associate"

If talks between Swiss and the EU politicians have been going on since 2014 to reach a political agreement that might safeguard the “cake-and-eat-it” model granted to Switzerland, Britain’s research institutions have been trying to fill the recently increased political gap by engaging in alliances and agreements with other European counterparts. the idea behind this diplomatic effort is that “If the UK is left out of any part of Horizon Europe, it makes the programme less appealing [and] it lowers the level of competition, and probably lowers the value of the grant.” (Jessica Cole, head of policy at the Russell Group). For as bold as this statement can appear, it cannot be denied that in the much feared event of a no-deal Brexit, the new Horizon Europe will lose a net contributor that currently weights for the 14.3% of the total funding awarded by H2020 to date (€5.1bn) and counts the highest number of successful projects. These are all things that are very well taken into consideration in Europe as well and, although “A lot of people are thinking that ERC grants would become easier to win without the involvement of Cambridge and Oxford, [...] we need to defend the continent against the big money being spent on research in the US, Japan and China. We need our strongest team, so we should find a way to keep UK in the game.” (Olivier Küttel, EPFL head of European public affairs).


RedKnight Masterclass goes to Berlin 

Berlin hosted the first leg of a whole new season of training which we forecast being even more successful than the last one! On 28th and 29th January 2019, RedKnight Director Dayne Hodgson travelled to the German capital city to deliver the company’s first Research and Innovation Proposal Development Masterclass of the year.

The two day training event, facilitated by European Academy, was attended by delegates from Finland and Lithuania and, as always, it made for a very interesting session.

Following his return to RedKnight HQ, Dayne said, “It was a fantastic couple of days discussing how our attendees can use our expertise and knowledge to enhance their own Horizon 2020 proposals. The group were very engaging, which prompted some fascinating discussions on the current R&D landscape across Europe”.


Innovate Uk tackles productivity problems in industry with a £4m competition

Next 25 February 2019, Innovate UK will launch a 2-phase competition to help National business solving business productivity problems and improving UK industry competitiveness.

Thanks to a partnership between Innovate UK, the National Physical Laboratory, the National Measurement Laboratory at LGC, the National Engineering Laboratory and the Science and Technology Facilities Council, up to £4 million will be made available to work with leading scientists and research facilities to explore why a certain percentage defect rate is occurring within an existing production process.

In the first stage of the competition, which will close at midday on 20 March 2019, UK-based organisations of any size should connect with potential partners to agree on an approach to a problem and work together to develop an expression of interest, that shall address:

• the measurement or analysis of some quantities or properties of an existing process, product or service
• Innovative solutions to problems that are not solvable by simple ‘off the shelf’ methods or techniques

Upon successful completion of Phase 1, eligible candidates will have access to Phase 2 (opening date and deadlines TBC), which will offer grant funding to total eligible project costs up to £300,000.

Source: InnovateUK

If you wish to find out whether your business can be eligible or even if you just would like to find out more, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@redknightconsultancy.co.uk


£6m up for grabs to save the Ocean

UK businesses can have a chance to save our oceans thanks to £6m available through simultaneous grants and private investment.

The amount, made available by a public-private partnership between Innovate UK and Sky Ocean Ventures, will allow UK firms to become leaders in providing solutions to reduce pollution in world's oceans; a problem that is threatening to triple its magnitude by 2025, unless serious actions are taken (source: UN).

To enable the UK to lead the fight against waste, catalyse new ideas and quickly get products and services to market, Innovate UK will devolve 50% of the whole sum in grants, whereas the remaining 50% will be funded by Sky Ocean Venture through private investment. Part of this is from the Plastics Research and Innovation Fund – a £20 million programme led by UK Research and Innovation.

The competition to get access to this funding is now open and applicants are invited to submit their projects until midday on 13 March 2019 (first deadline). Micro and small businesses are eligible to apply, working alone, and they can get up to 100% of their project costs (expected between £100,000 and £200,000), equally split between Innovate UK and Sky Ocean Ventures.

Successful application should:

  • Be feasibility studies, industrial research or experimental development
  • Last no more than 12 months
  • Based in the UK and the work should be carried here
  • Identify where revenue generation and growth will occur in the UK as a result of the innovation being developed and exploited

Also, successful applications should consider:

  • developing new, sustainable polymer materials
  • developing sustainable plastic alternatives
  • alternative business models and supply chains that use less plastic
  • supporting circularity through improved resource use and design
  • new product designs
  • technology-enabled models that change consumer behaviours
  • new recycling processes, including collecting, sorting and processing of waste plastics
  • increasing the value of recycled polymers
  • scalable, technology-enabled remedial solutions

Source: Innovate UK

If you think your business is most suited to run for this funding opportunity, but you don't know how, Please do get in touch for a FREE consultation.

 


EU financing of €122m for transport projects: Six days left!

Businesses in the transport sector have time until 16 January 2019 to submit short project proposals in the areas of waterborne transport, logistics, aviation, transport infrastructure and safety, and so have the chance to get access to €122m worth of funding under the 2018-2020 Horizon 2020 Work Programme.

The funding is divided into eight different topics (available here) and Applicants have to submit their proposals electronically, as a part of a two-stage process. Proposals submitted by 16 January 2019 will be evaluated within the next three months; successful applicants will be invited to proceed onto the second stage and submit full project proposal by 12 September 2019.

The final decision about which projects will receive EU funding will be known the latest by February 2020 at the latest.

Applicants are invited to consult the General Annexes (pdf) of the 2018-2020 Work Programme for rules on funding, standard eligibility criteria, submission rules, funding rates and other useful information.

Source: ec.europa.eu


What to expect from 2019?

2018 has been a rather successful year for us at RedKnight and we welcome the New Year with high hopes for an exciting 2019. But what do we really have to expect from January onwards? What are the upcoming competitions and which sectors are most likely to take centre stage? In this article we will take a look at the possibilities both Innovate UK and the EU have in store for us:

UK Plans in 2019
To understand what the UK's plans for this year could be, we have to look the last Budget approved by Westminster in October 2018. The UK Government has committed to providing an additional £1.6bn to fund the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which will focus around some (if not all) of the following challenges:

-Clean Air
-Reduction in plastic pollution
-Industrial digitisation
-Innovative Mobility (Road, Rail and Air)
-Industrial Transformation
-Cyber security
-Early detection of diseases
-Sustainable packaging

In addition, following the trend set by the Faraday Battery Challenge, up to £78m funding has been confirmed for the Stephenson Challenge to support innovation in electric motor technology, making vehicles lighter and more efficient. Other important key points to consider are the extension to the Government Start-up loans scheme until 2021 and a £25m boost to Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTPs).

On top of that, when the UK leaves the EU, amongst other things, it will also leave the Common Agricultural Policy, creating a funding void that definitely needs to be filled. Therefore, agriculture could very well be another important area to watch closely for new funding opportunities; at least in the medium-long term.

Finally, the Report on the UK’s approach to cryptoassets and distributed ledger technologies in financial services published at the end of October, might suggest these new technologies will receive particular interest in the following calls, also in light of the new £50m per year fund designed to address the most pressing challenges in areas such as public health and cyber security, and due to begin in 2021-2022.

EC Plans in 2019

March 2019 will mark the historical exit of the UK form the EU. Until then, UK organisations can still apply for EU funding (and they are warmly encouraged to do so). Thus, it is even more so important to understand what 2019 is going to look like.

The Commission's priorities for 2019 have been clearly displayed in the Work Programme for 2018-2020, which sets the strategy for the last stage of Horizon 2020. The budget allocated for the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot competitions, will see a general increase: up to €552.26m for the SME Instrument competition and €247.50m for the Future Emerging Technologies Open competition. The budget for Fast Track to Innovation calls will be kept at €100m.

Here, we have selected a pool of challenges that are likely to be of major interest for the EU during this final Work Programme period:

-Nanotechnology
-Blockchain technology
-Marine resources and sustainability
-Clean air and clean energy
-Space
-Food and Agri-food security
-Sustainable agriculture and rural renaissance
-Digital Health and early warning for epidemics
-Low carbon solutions

What can RedKnight do for you?

We hope this brief summary has helped you better understand what 2019 might have in store. If you have realised your innovation fits very well in one of the above areas, why not getting in touch with us for a FREE consultation? We can help you prepare your innovative ideas for the upcoming competitions, so that you can start the New Year in pole position!


£8 million available to develop world-leading civil aerospace tech

UK organisations now have the opportunity to get innovation grants to develop disruptive solutions that will reshape future flight technologies and will prepare the UK to face the upcoming aerospace challenges.

The funding, a total of £8 million, will be co-founded and co-managed by Innovate UK, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Aerospace Technology Institute, and will be shared across 3 competitions:

  1. Collaborative feasibility studies
  2. Expression of interest for fast-track collaborative research and development projects that could be exploited within 3 to 5 years
  3. Longer collaborative research and development projects, taking 5 years or more for exploitation

All 3 opportunities will be managed using a portfolio approach and funding will be split according to themes, project duration and costs.

In particular, the competition on collaborative feasibility studies will stay open from 14 January 2019 up until 27 February 2019; UK businesses of any size can apply for share of the funding that will cover 50% of the project costs (expected to cost between £255,000 and £500,000 and last up to 12 months). Applicants should present high risk projects that demonstrate disruptive and  high impact innovations to solve the biggest aerospace challenges in the UK, such as:

  • Medium-long range aircraft design
  • Urban vehicles designed for
  • Requirements for a scalable, hybrid electric power demonstrator facility
  • High-temperature, superconducting electrical power machines
  • Assessing environmental impact of air emissions
  • Integration of automation into controlled airspace

Source: Innovate UK


Sweet success for Diabetic Foot Ulcer (DFU) diagnosis and monitoring device

RedKnight are delighted to announce it has supported South Wales based Thermetrix Ltd with a successful proposal to Horizon 202's SME Instrument Phase 1 programme, winning the company €50k to further develop its innovative med-tech product called PODIUMTM.

The PODIUMTM technology is a novel, extremely reliable and highly sensitive solution for the cost-effective diagnosis and monitoring of Diabetic Foot Ulcers (DFUs) through rapid temperature imaging and reliable analysis of thermographs. The phase 1 project will enable Thermetrix to experiment with the higher efficacy, diagnostic value, convenience and cost-effectiveness of PODIUMTM over conventional approaches.

Dr Peter Plassmann, CEO of Thermetrix Ltd said of the success, RedKnight was instrumental in securing this grant. The company fully understood our technology and the advantages it offers. They contributed extensive background research and insider know-how on the European Commission's expectations and selection process, took us by the hand and drove the application process to its successful completion.

Today, there are 60m adults suffering from diabetes in Europe and 3.8m in UK (expected to rise to 50m by 2025). Diabetes has a high mortality rate caused mainly by complications (75,000 deaths per annum, of which 24,000 are premature). One life-threatening complication of diabetes is the development of a DFU. Studies reveal a 12% - 255 lifetime risk of developing DFU for diabetics, meaning over 9m people in Europe might suffer from a DFU in their lifetime. A serious consequence of DFU treatment amounting to 290,000 - 450,000 amputations a year in Europe, at a cost of €2 - 2.5bn.

Critically, a timely response from physicians, facilitated by PODIUMTM, could significantly reduce DFU - related amputations. The technology will provide a considerable Quality of Life (QoL) improvement for users and enable substantial savings to healthcare providers, even if only a very small percentage adopt PODIUMTM.


Dr Peter Plassmann - CEO - Thermetrix Ltd

RedKnight was instrumental in securing this grant. The company fully understood our technology and the advantages it offers. they contributed extensive background research and insider know-how on the European Commission's expectations and selection process, took us by the hand and drove the application process to its successful completion.