All you need to know about the Eureka Eurostars 2024

All you need to know about the Eureka Eurostars programme

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Are you an innovative SME? Do you want to bring new technologies to the market? Are you willing to collaborate with international partners for this purpose?

Then the Eurostars programme could be a tool for your next project as it contributes to the faster development and growth and market entry of new ideas.

Eureka Eurostars programme introduction

 

What is Eurostars?

Eurostars is the most extensive international competitive funding programme supporting the cooperation of SMEs wishing to collaborate on innovative R&D projects.

Eurostars is part of the European Partnership on Innovative SMEs co-funded by the 37 countries members of the Eureka network (most of them European but also countries overseas) and the European Union, through Horizon Europe. Eurostars’ mission is to support R&D collaboration in Europe and beyond through access to new knowledge, collaborations, and opportunities to test new markets.

This programme’s particular feature is the decentralized funding at the national level. Although Eurostars’ submission process and evaluation procedures are centralized at the European level, participants do not receive funding directly from the EU as the financing is decentralized to each applicant’s country.

 

Eurostars projects are…

  • Collaborative and international

The project consortium must consist of at least 2 independent entities from at least 2 Eurostars countries and be led by an innovative SME. There is no ideal number of members in the consortium; what is more important is the solidness of the connection and the collaborative work between partners to move the project forward successfully. Check which countries are considered Eurostars’ countries.

  • Innovative in any technological and market areas

Eurostars adopts a bottom-up approach in all areas of technology. This means that project partners are free to generate innovation in any technological area and address any market area as long as the project is innovative and has high market potential. Nevertheless, the project must have an exclusive focus on civil applications.

  • Market-driven

The funding is meant for close-to-market research and innovation projects and should permit your technology to reach TRL 7-8 after the project duration. You would also need to introduce the developed technology to the market no later than 48 months after the project starts. That means that commercialization or clinical trials must be planned to start rapidly after the project’s end.

 

Is the Eurostars programme right for you?

Who can apply?

Innovative SMEs must lead the project primarily. They can collaborate with academia, research organizations, and the public sector. However, even large companies can participate; however, those companies might not receive any type of funding for their participation.

How long should a project last?

Up to 36 months. As a 6-month extension can be requested if needed, we recommend an overall duration of 24-30 months.

Targeted TRL?

Minimum starting TRL: 4/5

Final TRL: 7/8

Financing

Funding rates vary among countries. However, most countries fund approx. 50% of each applicant’s project costs, and up to €400,000 subsidy.

Budget tips

SMEs budget >50% total budget

No partner can have >70% total budget

Success rate

around 29%

 

Why to apply to Eurostars?

  • To collaborate on innovative and market-driven R&D projects with like-minded international partners
  • To gain access to public funding
  • To join an ever-growing international network of SMEs, universities, and research centres
  • To access an expert support network
  • To improve private investors’ perception of your organization

 

What business benefits can Eurostars’ winners expect?

  • An average of 15% annual turnover increase
  • New markets entry (69%) and market share improvement (68%)
  • Transform R&D relationships into business relationships
  • Increased visibility of organizations in their specialist fields

Programme application

To succeed, you must be:

  • Clear, do not leave room for confusion
  • Detailed, as much informative as possible
  • Concise, only include relevant information

The Eurostars application consists of a series of open questions. Each question is specific to one single aspect of your project, which means you may not repeat the information in several parts of the application. As you will have character limitations to answer the questions, you will have to be concrete and up to the point to convince the expert evaluators and sell your ideas.

How to apply?

  • Make sure you are entitled to funding by contacting your National Contact Point
  • Read the guidelines for Eurostars applicants and the requirements for funding at national level.
  • Identify and contact international collaboration partners to build the ideal consortium
  • Prepare your proposal and complete the Eurostars platform
  • Submit your proposal within the deadline

 

Steps after the application
Your proposal will then be evaluated by 3 independent evaluators, and you should receive a decision about approval approx. 3-4 months after the submission deadline.

If your Eurostars application is successful:

  • You will be invited to connect with your national funding body to negotiate the grant to cover your R&D project costs.
  • A consortium agreement must be submitted within 6 weeks after approval.
  • 8-9 months after the submission deadline, the project can start!

 

When to apply?

The program has 2 calls per year. For 2024:

  • 1st call: opened on January 14th and closed on March 14th, 2pm CET
  • 2nd call: opens on July 12th and closes on September 12th, 2pm CET

Other calls could be expected for 2025 and in the years around these dates; however, the official application periods need to be checked.

Once you have closed the consortium, we estimate a duration of 2 months to prepare the proposal and upload all the information on the Eurostars platform.

 

Particularities of the Eurostars program:
Before you start your application, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the Eurostars guidelines.
Funding can only be applied to R&D-related costs. Marketing and management costs are not eligible for funding.
The project’s main partner submits the application on behalf of all consortium partners. To access the application form, one must register on the Eurostars platform.

The application form is divided into 5 sections, including a partner-specific section. The sections cover information on the impact of the developed technology, its market entry, the competitiveness of the technology behind it, the quality and efficiency of the project implementation, questions on SDG-related impact, integration of gender dimension, and project finances. Applicants can also upload a Gantt chart and a technical annexe consisting of a free document of 10 pages. In addition, ethical issues are also assessed. Be careful, a project application can be rejected if major ethics issues are raised without demonstrable awareness or supporting information towards achieving compliance. Consider also that you will be asked how your proposal addresses UN’s SDGs and gender dimension.

Funding of approved projects is managed by the respective National funding bodies according to their national funding rules and procedures. Rules and procedures are dependent on the member countries involved in the project. Also, proposals the evaluation panel finds eligible for funding do not automatically receive national funding. This allocation depends on the position of the project on the ranking list and the available budget per country. That is why the participants in a Eurostars project must check that each participant meets their national eligibility requirements and that all parties meet the common requirements before elaborating on an application.

If you are considering collaboration with universities and technological centres, consider that some countries might accept their participation as consortium members if SMEs from the same country are participating in the project, while for some other countries, the SMEs will have to subcontract them.

Our recommendations

  • Read the guidelines and the funding scheme for each applicant’s country, as the conditions for granting and the subsidy amount might differ. We strongly advise your foreign partners to contact their national funding institutes to discuss the conditions that apply to them. You can find the contact information on the Eureka website.
  • Have a clear idea of the innovation project you want to implement, both from a technological and business/market perspective. It is key to have a good knowledge of the market and the state-of-the-art technology.
  • Build a strong consortium with reliable partners and complementary expertise. Even though there’s no rule, ideal consortia have 3 to 4 partners and a total budget of around €1,5 million. The collaboration must be mutually beneficial, not only to have access to installations. The relationship between consortium members should be solid. Although there is the possibility of adding new members or substituting one member during the project course, you would put your project at risk, and if changes are not accepted, you would need to reimburse all the funds obtained.
  • Develop a clear plan, budget, and timeline to drive your project to completion successfully.
  • The application form asks for specific information with limited room, so you must answer the questions as precisely as possible. Be concise, but explain as much as possible.
  • Clearly define how your project aligns with Eurostars’ goals and solves a specific problem. Highlight your project’s potential societal and economic impact and how you are willing to introduce your technology to the market.

Do not prepare your application in a rush. There are 2 deadlines per year. If you need more time to build a strong proposal, you’d rather wait until the next deadline and ensure more success. Also, prepare your proposal with some room for correction; for instance, if you discover an error in your submitted application or aim to improve your application, you may submit a new version provided the call deadline has not passed. In addition, waiting for the last day to upload the information on the Eurostars platform is not recommended as it might bug if the webpage becomes overwhelmed with too many visitors. We recommend sending the application in 2-3 days max. before the deadline.

  • Do you think your proposal is strong enough but still have some doubts? Take some risks and apply! In the worst scenario, your proposal might not be accepted. However, you will receive an evaluation report listing the comments from each of the 3 evaluators. You can improve your proposal and resubmit an application in the following calls.

What we like about Eureka Eurostars

 

  • Eurostars is open to all projects in all technology areas and market fields.
  • The programme is less competitive than other European programmes such as EIC Transition and EIC Accelerator, and still provide significant funding for SMEs to install market-oriented technological development.
  • You do not need to be a start-up to apply, as long as you are an innovative SME.
  • The Eureka helpdesk’s people are very friendly and helpful. They also organize recurrent webinars with tips and tricks for application success.

 

What could be improved about the programme

      • The decentralization of the funding at the national level complicates the application, as in addition of preparing an application at the European level, you will also be asked to prepare another application to ask for funds at the national level. Depending on the applicants’ countries of origin, you might face different levels of bureaucracy.

      • During the project course, in addition of providing bi-annual progress reports in English, your national funding entity might also ask you for progress report in your local language.

Do you have an innovative project? Let’s talk.

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