European Partnership on Innovative SMEs / Innowwide call for market feasibility projects

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The call closes on 15 November 2022

Are you an innovative SME with the ambition to compete in new international markets?

Do you need to test the technical, commercial, legal and socio-economic feasibility of your innovation in a new market?

The EU Partnership on Innovative SMEs / Innowwide gives you insights beyond conventional market studies, selecting sales channels and export aid.

It de-risks your commercialisation track by supporting market feasibility projects, creating the favourable conditions you need to increase uptake of your innovative solution in foreign markets.

The EU Partnership on Innovative SMEs / Innowwide is co-funded by the European Union under the Horizon Europe framework programme.

Participating Countries/Regions

  • Global

Geographical coverage

The first EU Partnership on Innovative SMEs / Innowwide call is global, with a reserved number of market feasibility projects with partners in African countries.

Market feasibility projects must:

  1. be submitted by an SME from an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and
  2. include an independent partner entity (main subcontractor for the market feasibility project), legally established in a target country.

The first Innowwide call for market feasibility projects will fund:

  • At least 25 projects with partners in North or South America, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. Your innovative solution must be from an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and directed towards the target country.
  • Up to 25 projects with partners in Africa. Your innovative solution can be either from an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and directed towards an African country or from an African country and directed towards an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country (in the latter case, the company in the EU or Associated Country applies and receives the funding on behalf of the African company, and then carries out the market feasibility project in EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country for the African innovation company).

What is a market feasibility project?

A market feasibility project includes preliminary technical, market, legal and/or socioeconomic assessments intended to validate the feasibility of your international and innovative business solution (product-, process- or service-market combination) within new and emerging global value chains.

Your market feasibility project must have a target country (a pilot market) where you intend to develop and validate your innovative business solution in collaboration with local counterparts. You should consider, where appropriate, frugal innovation.

For the purpose of this call, the target country is generally a non-EU Member State and non-Horizon Europe Associated Country.

Only in the case of an SME from an African country directing its innovation towards EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country, the target country could be any EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country. However, it is the company in the EU MS or Associated Country applying and eventually receiving the funding on behalf of the African company, and then carrying out the market feasibility project in the EU/Horizon Europe Associated Country for the innovative African company.

Market feasibility projects must:

  • Feature product- (or process-, or service-) market development by an innovative SME from a European Union Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country with at least one local partner (e.g., a supplier, customer, end user, research provider or complementary technology developer), initially as a subcontractor for the market feasibility project. The expected outcome must have a high impact in the target country (pilot market). 
  • Include a variety of activities to identify and assess key local technical and market framework conditions in the target country that may favour or impede the effective deployment of your innovation.

Market feasibility projects may:

  • Be the preliminary phase of a future international R&I project with local counterparts in the target country that you intend to carry out in the short or medium term. This future cooperation project may be oriented towards the development, improvement or research of new applications for your proposed innovative solution (product, process or service), including frugal innovation.

After your market feasibility project, you should have a clearer understanding of your target market and be able to make informed business decisions.

Market feasibility projects are not:

  • unilateral or
  • exclusively business trips, workshops, matchmaking events or promotional activities.

Who can apply?

Innovative SMEs, including young companies and startups from any sector:

  • Established in an EU Member State or a Horizon Europe Associated Country
  • Looking to compete and start business in new and emerging markets around the world 
  • Engaged in an economic activity (selling products or providing services on the market at a given price)
  • Meeting eligibility, financial viability and ethical criteria as specified in our guidelines 

Self-employed, partnerships and associations or any other entity different from the above mentioned will not be eligible for EU Partnership on Innovative SMEs / Innowwide funding.

Only one proposal per applicant SME per call is allowed.

Eligibility criteria

1. Complete application

2. SME legal status*

To receive EU Partnership on Innovative SMEs / Innowwide funding, you must be an SME.

SME stands for small and medium-sized enterprise as defined in European Union law (EU recommendation 2003/361).

To be an SME, your company must fit the European Commission definition of an SME.

You can also receive EU Partnership on Innovative SMEs / Innowwide funding if you are a start-up or young company.

3. Commitment signed by the local counterpart

You need to invite your counterpart (main subcontractor in the market feasibility project) to sign a commitment in the platform before you submit your project application.

4. Exclusive focus on civil applications

5. Declaration of honour

None of the participating organisations can have:

6. Six-month project duration

7. Minimum total project cost of 86,000 euro

The maximum funding rate is 70% of a funding amount fixed at 60,000 euro, so your total eligible project costs must be at least 86,000 euro.

Eligible costs include: personnel, subcontracting and purchasing costs (travel and subsistence, equipment depreciation, other goods, works and services). See list of eligible activities in ‘eligible activities’ section. 

8. Combination of eligible activities

To be eligible, your application must include market and technical activities and can include (but not exclusively) business development and promotion activities.

*In the case of African companies targeting EU Member States or Horizon Europe Associated Countries, the African company must also meet the SME legal status.

Funded activities

This is a fixed and exhaustive list of eligible activities that can be funded by the EU Partnership on Innovative SMEs / Innowwide.

Co-creation and technology uptake preparatory work (innovation and technology transfer services)

  • Frugal innovation and the preparatory phase of a future international R&I project with the local strategic subcontractor
  • Analysis of the IP environment: Identification and assessment of the legal (and related technical and financial) IP environment in the target country, legal, technical (certification and alike) and commercial (royalties or duties) constraints or advantages for IP registration and defence 
  • Technology scouting and novelty verification: Inventory and study of legal, technical and commercial situation of existing, registered and potentially legally conflictive technologies in the target market 
  • Technology valuation: Technology market value calculation by experts (valuation and pricing through discounted cash flow, market comparison, benchmarking, rating and ranking, etc.) 
  • Technology legal situation analysis: Due diligence of the technology legal situation in the target country (legal evaluation and actions to ensure overall technology freedom to operate and legal protection in the target country) 
  • Technology protection and valorisation strategy design: Design, planning and preliminary implementation of measures to valorise existing technologies (licensing, venturing or partnering) 
  • Certification and homologation compliance verification: Compulsory regulatory technical certification, testing and benchmarking activities 
  • Technology partnership matchmaking 
  • Small-scale proof of concept (trial and assimilation, further R&I preparatory work)

Market research (desk and field studies

  • Business opportunities early survey detection (pre-conceptualisation) 
  • Qualitative analysis (consumer analysis: segments, preferences, patterns, motivations, opinions, attitudes, values, culture, etc.) 
  • Product commercial research (local customer experience oriented: concept, design, supply, use, etc.) 
  • Market quantitative analysis (real, potential or tendencies)
  • Competition analysis (market share, positioning, value propositions, value chains, etc.)
  • Analysis of potential partners for distribution and marketing 
  • Analysis of potential suppliers
  • PESTLE (political, economic, sociological, technological, legal and environmental issues) and market barriers analysis

Compliance verification

  • Administrative and legal freedom to operate or due diligence verification
  • Business related social and cultural best practices identification and implementation planning

Business prospection trips – limited and justifiable within your market feasibility project

  • Trade fairs, conferences, info days or networking and matchmaking events 
  • Joint workshops or meetings with potential partners 
  • Workshops with partners to prepare international R&I projects

Specific promotional technical material preparation (technology valorisation-oriented) – limited and justifiable within your market feasibility project

To be eligible, your application must include elements from sections 1, 2 and 3 (market and technical activities) and can include (but not exclusively) elements from sections 4 and 5 (business development and promotion).

How will applications be evaluated?

Complete and eligible applications are evaluated by three remote experts (one of them acting as rapporteur, responsible for drafting a consensus report), using the online call management platform, according to three criteria: excellence, impact and quality and efficiency of the implementation.

Your application is given points out of 200.

Applications below any of these thresholds will be discarded:

  • Excellence: 30 points
  • Impact: 50 points
  • Quality and efficiency of implementation: 30 points

Each applicant will receive a single evaluation consensus report with scores.

Ethics experts review the list of applications that received a successful evaluation, discarding those that do not comply with relevant ethics requirements

An independent evaluation panel will decide a ranking list based on evaluation results.

In this call for market feasibility projects, two separate ranking lists will be made:

  1. At least 25 projects with partners in North and South America, Asia-Pacific or the Middle East
  2. Up to 25 projects with an African partner

Funding

Call budget

  • 3 million euro to fund 50 projects
  • 60,000 euro per market feasibility project

To be considered for funding, your application must score above the set threshold for each individual award criterion and be ranked in the top 50 projects (above the budget-threshold).

Funding will be allocated to applications ranked over threshold, financially and ethically viable according to the ranking list until the call available budget is exhausted.

The EU Partnership on Innovative SMEs / Innowwide financial support rate is up to 70% of minimum eligible costs of 86,000 euro. Each successful market feasibility project will receive a fixed grant of 60,000 euro.

The funding to each SME market feasibility project coordinator will be processed as follows:

  1. An advance payment of 70% (42,000 euro) provided at the beginning of project implementation;
  2. The remaining 30% (18,000 euro) transferred at the end of the market feasibility project, upon delivery and acceptance of a complete Final Report.

How to apply

Applications must be completed and submitted by someone legally authorised to represent the SME based in the EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country on our SmartSimple platform https://eureka.smartsimple.ie/.

Conditions for applying

  • You are an SME in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country with a partner based in a country in North or South America, Asia-Pacific or the Middle East.
    OR
  • You are an SME in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country with a partner based in an African country.
    OR
  • You are an SME in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and you are submitting an application on behalf of an African company that you provide services to.

An initial question will categorise your application under one of these three groups. If you are an SME in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and you are submitting an application on behalf of an African company directing its innovation towards EU or Associated Country, your African counterpart will be, nevertheless, considered as the “main subcontractor” for application purposes.

The same evaluation criteria apply to any of the three categories.

Submission steps

  1. Register on https://eureka.smartsimple.ie/
  2. Complete the application form in English. Note: You need to invite your counterpart (main subcontractor in the market feasibility project) to sign a commitment in the platform before you submit your project application.
  3. Upload your annexes:
    • Financial statements or business plan and
    • your workplan
  4. Submit your completed application form electronically before the call deadline.

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