• Juan Miguel Muñoz Peñas

Impact, Implementation and Excellence in Innovation (Part I)

No matter how good an idea is, no matter how disruptive it is in the market, no matter the proven high interest of the market on your product or service - there will be always a barrier to overcome, and one predominant issue is to find resources and money.

If we don’t have enough in-house resources, and we must look for public grants or private investors, there is always something we first have to build… credibility. Credibility is something you must work on and it makes the fundraising path a learning process.

A good idea is not enough

A good idea by itself is nothing. The way you present the project, your arguments and your context knowledge are key to success in fundraising.

A business model and a commercialization strategy is always based around a series of hypotheses. We need to have a clear understanding of them, because they need to be well communicated. To work on credibility is also to demonstrate that we are considering the most critical hypotheses and we have proved that they are consistent.

Currently, we are focused on EU public grants to entrepreneurs and specifically the SME Instrument grants. In order to increase the chance of receiving these grants, it is needed to deeply understand the criteria and key aspects of the evaluation and to work on the credibility of your project.

An instrument to foster high growth through innovation

The European grants "SME Instrument" are one of the most important to entrepreneurs, as they support projects driven by self-employed or small and medium-sized companies with prospects for strong growth through innovation. The objective is that the funds destined to support these projects are used to apply innovations that promote the development of new products or new services based on the business plan outlined.

In the previous edition, more than 2,000 proposals were submitted, of which 257 were finally approved. The sectors that received the most funding were the health sector, engineering and information and communication technologies.

For a company to access an SME Instrument grant it must be an SME or a recently created company, established in a member country of the European Union and with a budding innovation project. The grants are between €50,000 and € 2.5m. The budget for the next financial year 2019 is €552m, and it will be increased to €600m in the year 2020.

Impact, implementation and excellence

"Europe has excellent science, but we lack disruptive market-creating innovation. This is what is needed to turn our best ideas into new jobs, businesses and opportunities," says EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas.

The commission is focused on equating the ecosystem of European and American startups. For this, the SME instrument was created with the aim of generating one million new jobs in Europe and attracting the investment of 2 billion Euro, propelling European startups to grow at the pace of American unicorns. This program is aimed at helping startups with:

  • Highly disruptive innovation

  • Ability to shape new markets or break into existing ones.

  • High growth potential in Europe and globally.

  • Traction of private investment

And to measure this the Commission uses three criteria:

  • IMPACT, which weighs 50%, is shaped by a solid business model and marketing strategy in the project. It includes the target customer, the will to pay, the market conditions, the scale-up potential and a well aligned strategy.

  • EXCELLENCE, which weighs 25% of the total, is the potential to create a new market or something that significantly impacts an existing market at the present time.

  • IMPLEMENTATION, which weighs the last 25% in the valuation, is the ability and motivation of the project and the team to bring innovation to the market.

Impact, excellence and implementation are the criteria for the EU grants to evaluate the innovation. The way these three concepts are built into grant applications will influence the credibility and consistency of the projects and therefore the possibility of being a winning project

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