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Charlotte Dyring is CEO in the biotech company ExpreS²ion Biotechnologies in Horsholm and an experienced Eurostars project participant. With funds from Eurostars, the company is developing a vaccine against pregnancy malaria in coopertation with a Dutch biotech company, Mucosis, and the University of Copenhagen.
'I think that Eurostars is an interesting programme because it provides the opportunity for cross-border cooperation. But applying involves much work, and the amount of funding you receive is relatively small, at least in relation to the costs in a biotech company. So, you must do it because it creates relations and possibilities that can be developed further,' says Charlotte Dyring.
When is it a good idea to apply for funding?
'You must invest a lot of energy in the project, so it must be a project that’s consistent with what you would have done sooner or later anyway. The project must focus on something you will very much would like to develop, but cannot do without external funding and with help from foreign partners.'
Does Eurostars give other advantages than money?
'Yes. There’s an impact beyond the money. There’s substantial knowledge-sharing, and the funding helps raise the profile of the enterprise with the outside world.'
What criteria are used in the assessment of applicants?
'You definitely have to write a good application. You must have prepared your project carefully from all players’ perspectives. Preferably, you should also show that you’ve been able to run similar major projects. You need to get a high score at the rating to obtain funding, and the best way to do that is if you’ve already shown that your project works to a certain level.'
Has ExpreS2ion received outside help for its applications?
'We have done both. When we received funding recently, we had prepared our own application. Five years ago, we had a firm helping us, and they prepared an excellent application. However, the business case was not advanced enough, so we didn’t receive any funding. It’s not necessary to hire a professional to write the application if you can explain yourself and write proper English. However, some may need help to write briefly and precisely. Moreover, the core of the project must be in place. You can’t write your way out of a project that isn’t good. But you may fail to describe a good project clearly and miss out on funding.'
How long before the application deadline should applicants start?
'It takes at least two weeks on a full-time basis to write the application, so expect to start writing one month before the deadline at the latest. Before that, you need to have the project and the partners ready, and it can take months to find the perfect partner. First, they’re on a business trip, then you’re on a business trip. And you need to find time to discuss the project and prepare budgets.'
What kind of hassle should applicants prepare for?
'There is a risk that the project will come to nothing, although it has been approved and gets a good rating. The project may end on the funding list in one country, but not in another, and then the project will come to nothing. It’s possible to avoid this situation by investigating in advance from which countries funding is most realistic and choose a partner in such a country. The risk may also be reduced by reducing the number of countries involved.'
(Text by Marianne Bom, photo by Claus Bjorn Larsen)