A €200 million pilot funding stream has been launched by the European Commission for projects that are in the late stages of development and close to being launched on the market.The ‘Fast Track to Innovation Pilot’ FTI scheme is aimed at business-driven projects and is open to proposals in any area of technology or application, including cleantech. It is not restricted to small and medium-sized enterprises, but its overall aim is to increase the participation of industry, SMEs and first time applicants in Horizon 2020 funding and also to stimulate private sector investment in research and innovation.
“FTI is part of the Horizon 2020 drive to bring more jobs to the EU. This funding can help organisations to quickly translate an idea into a market ready product by accelerating the development of technologies into innovative products, processes or services,” said Olaf Swanzy, UK director of funding expert PNO Group. “Valley of death”The funding stream aims to fill a much needed gap in the EU grant funding landscape, whereby many research and development projects that successfully reach the product stage fail to become commercialised – often described as the “valley of death”. “Typically grants are only available to fund future projects, ranging in maturity levels from blue sky research to the development of a prototype. Some businesses that are less aware of the grant funding landscape can find that by the time they need extra financial assistance, their project is too mature for grants. By this time they may have used up most other funding options such as cash flow and angel investment, so reach a ‘valley of death’ between successfully researching a product and successfully getting it onto the market,” said Swanzy.
FTI is initially open for two years, with €100 million available for 2015 and €100 million available for 2016 to high impact projects. Projects must be mature, with commercialisation achievable within three years of the start date. Also, the project must be collaborative, with a mix of industry and research partners from at least three different EU Member/ Associated States. FTI funding offers support up to 70 per cent of eligible costs for project of €1-2 million or exceptionally up to €3 million. In both 2015 and 2016 there will be three opportunities to apply.