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How to avoid the main pitfalls of European subsidy applications

February 01 2016

Despite the favourable subsidy environment that the European Union has created for innovative biotech SMEs, it remains a challenge to actually obtain these subsidies. Many SMEs are uninformed or even misinformed about their non-dilutive funding options and the assessment of the proposals. Therefore, ttopstart has performed an in-depth stakeholder interview round to investigate the critical success factors that determine whether biotech SMEs are deemed eligible for European subsidies. This research has not only revealed interesting insights into the success factors but also into the fail factors and common mistakes made by SMEs in funding applications. Here, we provide some tips to avoid the most common pitfalls to increase your chances in European funding instruments. 

Prepare yourself well
Errors are easily made in the basic criteria for application, which results in ineligible proposals. Mistakes can be avoided by preparing yourself well prior to applying, by studying the guidelines and seeking help from experienced colleagues or specialised agencies. Another easy way of getting rid of basic errors is by proofreading the proposal and asking for a review by non-experts. 

Assess impact
Researchers and company founders often overestimate the actual potential of their idea or technology. The idea must be great and have the actual potential to be disruptive and provoke non-incremental innovation. Economical and social impact on a European level is an extremely important factor in the assessment of European subsidies, so this should be predicted and described as accurate as possible.

Show your added value
View the funding organisation as an investor in your company or project. The financial situation of both the applicant and partners are important to minimise the risk for the investor. An investor wants to see return on investment!

Be ambitious and realistic
Aim high to provoke impact with your business, while remaining realistic and mitigating risks in your project plan. This includes having an excellent project plan and demonstrating that you have the operational capacity to execute your plans.

Ask for help
Many SMEs feel that applying for grants in Europe is complex and time consuming. Therefore, they feel that assistance by a specialised consultancy firm is of great value. In fact, most SMEs believe that they received their grant due to the cooperation with a specialised consultancy firm.

These are just some of the many tips and tricks that can make a difference in the European funding process. By constantly investigating the funding landscape, we provide academics and businesses with the most up to date advice. More results on the research into success factors of obtaining European subsidies for biotech SMEs will be published soon! Contact us to find out more about your national and international funding options, or check out our funding database

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