Innovation Fund: First call for small-scale projects

person holding a green plantThe Innovation Fund, a new European funding stream, has launched its first call for small-scale, clean-tech projects. It has €100 million available and is also offering project development assistance for up to 20 rejected proposals. In line with the Innovation Fund’s wider objectives, the call aims to advance Europe’s transition towards climate neutrality.


The competition is open to projects with total capital costs between €2.5 and €7.5 million. Grants will cover 60% of a project’s total expenditure. The evaluators will consider the following award criteria: greenhouse gas emission avoidance, degree of innovation, project maturity, scalability, and cost-efficiency.

All projects should take place within an EU Member State, the only exceptions being Norway and Iceland. This has important implications for UK applicants; any project located in the UK will only be eligible for funding if the EU and UK reach an agreement.


Grants are available for innovative small-scale projects that are ready for market. For example, eligible projects may focus on making the first sale of new technology to pioneer customers. There are several eligible sectors within which your project can fall: renewables, energy-intensive, industries and substitute products, carbon capture and storage, energy storage. However, the call specifically encourages three key activities: products that substitute carbon-intensive ones, net carbon removal innovations, and direct air capture.

To be eligible for project development assistance, rejected proposals must meet the minimum requirements under the degree of innovation and greenhouse gas emissions criteria, and obtain at least half of the points available for project maturity. Additionally, the evaluators must believe project development assistance will help improve a project’s maturity.

For more information on the small-scale project call, visit the European Commission website. Alternatively, please contact us if you have any questions or would like to arrange a consultation. Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter to receive grant funding news direct to your inbox.

The Innovation Fund: €10 Billion Available for Low-Carbon Technology Projects

3 wind turbines in a field, set against blue skiesBackground

The EU Innovation Fund is one of the world’s largest funding programmes for low-carbon technology projects. It will provide around €10 billion of support between 2020 and 2030, supporting Europe's transition to net-zero. By helping businesses invest in clean energy and industry, the Innovation Fund will boost economic growth, create local future-proof jobs, and reinforce European technological leadership on a global scale.

First announced in 2019 and funded by the EU Emissions Trading System, the fund launched its first competition in July 2020. It replaced the Ner300 programme and holds numerous advantages over its predecessor; it improves the risk-sharing for projects by giving more funding in a more flexible way. Not only this, but it has a simpler selection process and is also open to projects from energy-intensive industries.


Funding is available for both large and small-scale projects. In general, eligible projects will focus on one of the following themes:

  • Innovative low-carbon technologies and processes in energy-intensive industries
  • Carbon capture and utilisation
  • Construction and operation of carbon capture and storage
  • Innovative renewable energy generation
  • Energy storage
Application Process

For large-scale projects, there is a two-stage application process. Firstly, there is an expression of interest stage, judging project effectiveness, degree of innovation, and project maturity. Then, the second stage is a full application; it considers all the same criteria, as well as scalability and cost-efficiency. In contrast, small-scale calls have just one stage, this being the full application. The Innovation Fund will support up to 60% of the additional capital and operational costs of large-scale projects and up to 60% of the capital costs of small-scale projects.

The first call for small-scale projects is now open and will close on 10th March 2021. For more information, visit the European Commission website. Alternatively, please contact us if you have any questions or would like to arrange a free consultation.

We are unsure whether UK organisations will be able to participate in EU funding streams following Brexit. Sign up for our free monthly newsletter for the latest updates, as well as alternative grant funding opportunities.

Source: European Commission 

Eureka Eurostars: Grant Funding Available for Transnational Innovation Projects

toy airplane on colourful world mapEureka Eurostars is the largest international funding programme for SMEs wishing to collaborate on transnational innovation projects. It supports research-performing SMEs with research and development to help them gain a competitive advantage; their project results are then rapidly commercialised. Funding for UK SMEs is through Innovate UK. They will cover up to 60% of project costs through grant funding, with a maximum of €360,000 allowed per project

Eurostars in Numbers

According to the Eureka website, 29% of applications receive funding. Significantly, 45% of participants have been successful in reaching new markets, while 84% of project partners form long-term relationships.

Eligibility Criteria

The main eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • Firstly, research institutes, universities and large enterprises can participate. However, the project lead must be an R&D-performing SME from a Eurostars country.
  • Projects must have a civilian purpose.
  • The consortium must include at least two partners independent from each other and established in at least two different Eurostars countries.
  • Lastly, you must complete the project in less than 36 months. The Eurostars project market introduction of the project results should be within 24 months of the completion of the project.
How Can RedKnight Help?

RedKnight has an excellent track record with supporting applications to Eureka Eurostars. Most recently, we won €578,684 on behalf of Thermetrix Ltd and €345,566 for the REDEEMA consortia. You can read more about each of these on our projects page. For further information on the Eureka Eurostars programme, please visit their website. If you would like our support with an application, contact us today to arrange a free consultation.

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European Innovation Agencies Make Plans to Strengthen Innovation

The European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) have signed a letter of intent to coordinate efforts and strengthen Europe’s innovation services, pledging to build a “more integrated and inclusive EU innovation ecosystem for the benefit of EU innovators.”

Potential areas of cooperation are currently being tested in three €1 million pilot projects. The innovation agencies will finalise their collaboration in Spring 2021, before rolling it out in 2022.


The EIC and EIT are complementary organisations, working towards the shared goal of translating Europe’s research strengths into jobs and growth. However, they operate in different ways:

  • The EIT focuses on the integration of higher education, research, and innovation to address global challenges set in Horizon Europe. It has eight designated Knowledge and Innovation Communities, each of which addresses a specific societal challenge.
  • In contrast, the EIC provides financial support for innovators. Its focus is on all areas of disruptive and breakthrough market-creating innovation.

A closer working relationship between the two institutions will enable companies from underperforming countries to secure more funding. As a result, this will help narrow the innovation gap between east and west Europe.


EU research commissioner, Mariya Gabriel, has labeled the move “a stepping stone in creating the European Innovation Area.” It marks a recognition that European innovation is vital. Innovative ideas key to tackling major societal challenges, including Covid-19 and climate change. They can also help Europe regain its position as a world leader in the field of innovation.

Please note: Negotiations are still ongoing to determine the UK's participation in Horizon Europe, the EU's next funding programme for research and innovation. However, UK scientists, researchers, and businesses can still apply for funding from the European Green Deal, the last and biggest call under Horizon 2020. You can read more about this competition here.

Source: Science|Business

European Green Deal: €1 billion available for innovative projects

One of the European Commission’s top priorities is to tackle climate change and make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. As a result, the Commission has launched a €1 billion call for research and innovation projects that respond to the climate crisis. Funded by Horizon 2020, the European Green Deal Call aims to drive Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis by turning green challenges into innovation opportunities.

Due to the urgency of the challenges it addresses, the Green Deal Call aims for clear, discernible results in the short to medium-term, but with a perspective of long-term change. Therefore, there are fewer, but more targeted, larger and visible actions. The focus is on rapid scalability, dissemination, and uptake.


The projects funded under this call must deliver results with tangible benefits in ten areas. Firstly, there are eight thematic areas reflecting the key work streams of the European Green Deal:

  1. Increasing climate ambition
  2. Clean, affordable and secure energy
  3. Industry for a clean and circular economy
  4. Energy and resource efficient buildings
  5. Sustainable and smart mobility
  6. Farm to fork
  7. Biodiversity and ecosystems
  8. Zero-pollution, toxic-free environments

Secondly, there are two horizontal areas: strengthening knowledge and empowering citizens. They offer a longer-term perspective in achieving the transformations set out in the European Green Deal.

Furthermore, we are pleased to confirm that UK scientists, researchers, and businesses are eligible to apply for this funding. UKRI has confirmed that projects will receive funding for the lifetime of Green Deal projects, even if they continue beyond 31st December 2020 (when the UK’s period of transition out of the EU ends).

The closing date for applications is 26th January 2021, with selected projects expected to start in autumn 2021. For our assistance in putting together a competitive proposal, contact us today.

£2m available for projects on healthy ageing

Last month, Eureka made an exciting multilateral call for projects on healthy ageing. UK registered businesses are invited to apply for a total grant of up to £500,000, to develop digital health technologies in partnership with organisations from Eureka countries. Innovate UK have allocated up to £2 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Projects must meet one of more of the following themes: robotics, augmented or artificial intelligence, software as a medical device, wearables, medical devices, diagnostics, imaging, data analytics, sensors, and apps. Your project must focus on industrial research but can include experimental development activities if Innovate UK deem it appropriate – you can read their general guidance here.

The competition closes on 5th August 2020. More information can be found on the Innovate UK web page. If you think that you might be eligible for this fund, please contact us to organise a free consultation.

Japan GlobalStars call for joint project proposals

Japan flag pictured in front of a mountain and a lake.Within Eureka’s GlobalStars initiative, Japan, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Spain, and the UK are launching a common call for submissions from Japan and respective Eureka member countries. Eureka GlobalStars invites participants to submit joint project proposals in the research and development of innovative products and applications with a strong market potential.

This is an open call for proposals. It invites projects from any sector area, except for nuclear technologies and pharmaceutical technologies. The project must involve at least one company from Japan, and one from a respective Eureka member country.

To be eligible for Innovate UK support, a UK applicant must:

  • be a UK based business, of any size;
  • collaborate with the Japanese lead partner;
  • involve at least one UK based SME, unless the lead themselves is an SME;
  • the UK SME in your consortium must incur at least half of the UK total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one UK SME, this minimum is shared between them.

The call opens on Monday 8th June and the deadline for Eureka application is set at 10th September 2020. For more information about this opportunity, please click here. Alternatively, to discuss your project with one of our specialists, contact us today.

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Horizon Europe: New Horizons for European Funding

2020 marks the end of Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest ever EU Research and Innovation programme, which has provided nearly €80 billion of funding over 7 years (2014-2020). Succeeding Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe will run from 2021 to 2027 to ensure that Europe remains a world-class leader in Research and Innovation. The European Commission will invest €100 billion into Research and Innovation that will shape the future of Europe, making it the most ambitious programme of its kind.

“With Horizon Europe, we want to build on this success and continue to make a real difference in the lives of citizens and society as a whole.”

-European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness.

Preliminary Structure of Horizon Europe

Preliminary structure of Horizon Europe

Like Horizon 2020, the programme will have three pillars. The first will fund excellence in science, supporting frontier research projects designed by researchers through the European Research Council. The second pillar focuses on Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness. It will support research into societal challenges and reinforce technological and industrial capacities. It also sets ambitious EU-wide missions to tackle some of Europe’s biggest problems, including health and climate change. Thirdly, the Innovative Europe pillar aims to increase Europe’s prowess in market-creating innovation and SME growth through the European Innovation Council.

Following the Horizon 2020 Interim Evaluation, the European Commission has implemented several changes to support Research and Innovation across Europe. For example, they will support breakthrough, high-risk innovation through the creation of the European Innovation Council. This will help innovators to create new market opportunities. Additionally, through the launch of new missions with bold, ambitious goals, Horizon Europe will create more impact across Europe. An open science policy will enable better science through collaborative ways of producing and sharing knowledge and data. Further, an emphasis on widening participation will help low Research and Innovation performing Member States to participate in Horizon Europe.

Despite the uncertainty caused by Brexit, we are hopeful that the UK will remain a part of the Horizon Europe research programme. If you'd like to discuss European funding with one of our specialist advisers, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

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Increase in funding for game-changing green innovation and woman-led companies…

A significant increase to the European Innovation Council (EIC) Pilot budget is expected to be adopted by the European Commission in March 2020, to support game-changing, market-creating innovation and deep-tech SMEs to scale-up, paving the ground for the launch of a ‘fully-fledged’ programme in Horizon Europe (2021 – 2027).

A one-off EIC Accelerator call for ‘green deal’ start-ups and SMEs is expected, whereby all applicants submitting for the 19th May 2020 cut-off will need to demonstrate how their innovation contributes to the goals of The European Green Deal. The 7th October 2020 cut-off for the EIC Accelerator Pilot will remain open to all innovations.

Additional opportunities for companies with women CEOs (or equivalent positions) is also expected, to ensure 25% of all finalists in the EIC Accelerator Pilot are women-led companies. If, following the first-round remote evaluation, a minimum of 25% of companies selected for the final-stage interviews are not led by women, additional interviews will be scheduled.

An advanced version of the amended EIC Work Programme is due to be released by the end of February, and the final version by the end of March, replacing plans for the year ahead in the current EIC Pilot Work Programme 2018 - 2020.

Important EIC Accelerator update for UK applicants...

The Withdrawal Agreement means that the UK can continue to participate in EU programmes, including Horizon 2020, that are financed by the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) until their closure (i.e. for the lifetime of grants). UK participants will continue to receive EU grant funding for the lifetime of individual Horizon 2020 projects, including projects finishing after the transition period ends at the end of 2020.

UK scientists, researchers and businesses can continue to participate in and lead Horizon 2020 projects and apply for Horizon 2020 grant funding. The vast majority of Horizon 2020 projects will be able to continue as before during the transition period and beyond. This includes ERC, MSCA, and the EIC Accelerator. However, for the latter, UK entities are now only eligible for the grant element of the programme, meaning they cannot apply for equity support.

A very limited number of UK Horizon 2020 projects, which involve access to security-related sensitive information restricted for EU Member States, may be unable to continue after EU Exit in their current form. The government expects the European Commission to inform participants if this is the case.