Startups, as companies or ventures focused on a single electronic product or service that the founders want to bring to market, require proper funding. Using European funds is fundamentally different from raising investors through other avenues and offers transparency. It is easy to get lost in such a fertility of ideas regardless of the electronic project and its country of origin.
Getting a glimpse of types of EU funds
Suffice to say there are different types of financing: grants, financial instruments (loans, guarantees and equity), trust fund awards and public procurement. The rules for implementing all types of financing are regulated. Some of them are direct financial contributions from the EU budget, which resemble donations to external beneficiaries. They usually accrue to non-profit organizations and parties. Financial instruments are measures of financial support provided on a complimentary basis from the budget in order to achieve specific policy objectives of the European Union. Such instruments take the form of equity or quasi-equity investments, guarantee loans and other risk-sharing instruments, and may be combined with grants where appropriate. In addition, these instruments, implemented in partnership with public and private institutions, counteract market failures in the provision of external financing (for example, to small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs) and avoid crowding out private financing.
Applying for European Union funds - first steps
These can be taken as Step 0 in fact. It’s worth knowing that funding procedures usually consist of stages. Those mostly depend on the technical nature of the field, the available budget and the expected number of applications. Before preparing an application, it is always important to read the guidelines for a particular call to ensure that the application is eligible and that it will not end among those rejected at the start. Detailed criteria are specified in each funding program and individual call. You may need to register with the committee before submitting your application. The call guidelines specify whether and how this should be done.
Preparation of a proposal might seem a tedious and me-consuming process. You should start preparing it before the deadline specified in the invitation. The three essential criteria for admissibility are:
- submission on time - before the deadline specified in the call - via an electronic application system,
- completeness - with the relevant administrative forms, proposal description and any supporting documents specified in the call,
- brevity - the proposal template specifies the maximum number of pages and the number of characters for each field to be filled in.
European funds - who to contact?
First place to visit? Specific bookmarks on the official website of European Union, of course. Those consist of Publications Office of the EU and bookmark for funding, grants and subsidies. The EU provides funding for a range of projects and programmes. One of them is Horizon Europe - covered in 23 languages as of April 2023 - which aims at research and innovation funding until 2027. It covers funding, missions, European partnerships, news and events.
Financial Transparency System in EU
Searching for information through a search engine and keywords can be frustrating in this case. It is simply difficult to discern the multitude of programs and sometimes deceptively similar nomenclature. It's worth looking at this as a positive aspect - since there are so many of them, it means that the opportunities are wide and new ones are constantly being created. Retrospection might be useful, too, as it can show you the scale and opportunities that others have taken so far. FTS website provides a way to search through the beneficiaries of funding from the EU budget implemented directly by the Commission (at Headquarters or in EU delegations to non-EU countries) and other EU bodies such as executive agencies ('direct management') or implemented indirectly by other international organisations or non-EU countries ('indirect management'), and beneficiaries of the European Development Fund.
You can choose from two approaches presented - an overview, which shows main figures related to EU funds awarded under direct and indirect management (currently there’s data available only for 2021), or on a more detailed analysis approach, which provides analysing and comparing published data in more details, information on beneficiaries and methods of searching for a specific grant or contract.
EU funding opportunities for small businesses and ventures
It's good to think big, but you got to start somewhere. The EU budget provides benefits to all European citizens as well as individuals from other parts of the world, both directly and indirectly. The budget plays a crucial role in supporting numerous initiatives that aid millions of students, thousands of researchers, and a wide range of cities, regions, and non-profit organizations. As an EU citizen, you have the opportunity to apply for EU funding through various funding programs, depending on the nature of your business or project. Additionally, funding opportunities are available through programs that are implemented directly by Member States, such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility or the Just Transition Fund.
Before applying for funding, it's important to consult the call guidelines to determine your eligibility. These are aimed at young people in general, researchers, farmers and many more and, most importantly, at companies of various types and sizes. These are categorized as micro-enterprises, small enterprises, medium-sized enterprises and large ones. According to information provided on the website every year the EU supports more than 200,000 businesses. EU funding is available for any size of enterprise in any sector including entrepreneurs, start-ups, micro companies, small and medium-sized enterprises, and larger businesses. European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Displaced Workers (EGF) is another program that contributes to the creation of a more dynamic and competitive European economy by improving the skills and employability of displaced people, to help them find better work, which includes start-ups and small businesses. This is important especially in the context of EGF co-funding initiatives such as career advice, entrepreneurship and business creation.
EU Startups magazine - ideas and opportunities
Every field of activity has its own magazines, newspapers and journals that are worth following. EU-Startups.com is the leading online publication with a focus on startups in Europe founded in October of 2010. The aim is to describe internet and tech startups out of Europe and provide readers with data-driven analysis, interviews and startup-related news. In addition to focusing on young technology companies, the magazine publishes other kinds of news out of the tech-space that have a commercial or cultural impact on startups in Europe. Database is organized into clear sections and by the countries of origin of the startups. However the most important role of such sites is providing start-upers and investors with tailored research service and showing sources of startups according to their preferences - it might be location, business stage, a specific revenue target, business model and/or a specific industry.
Set your electronics startup on the right track with DevicePrototype
In addition to funding, a startup requires professional support and partnerships with those experienced in the market. At DevicePrototype, we will support you with electronic circuit prototyping services, system integration solutions and manufacturing capabilities. Performing comprehensive design, developing firmware and testing are tasks in which we aim only at customized, refreshing ideas. Once we are confident that all components have been prepared correctly, you will significantly reduce your time-to-market due to the fact that with DevicePrototype you can realize your ideas through full-scale production - along with manufacturing all components and putting the device in the box. Regardless of the sphere of intended use, which may be administration, research, development, innovation, security, energy, culture and arts, environmental protection, health care, labor and social integration, revitalization, transportation, tourism or telecommunications and e-services, you can count on our professional team on every stage of idea and product implementations. Check out the best and most followed startups of 2023 here - does anything catch your attention? If so, come visit us at DevicePrototype!