For many UK companies EU funding is the elusive golden goose: the UK is well behind our counterparts in France and the Netherlands in the utilisation of European funding for private businesses.
The reasons are varied, but include the assumption that not only is success unlikely, but that the massive burden of bureaucracy and red tape is too overwhelming for a small- to medium-sized enterprise (SME) to tackle on their own.
One solution is to pay a consultant to gather, assemble and submit all the documentation (‘free money available’ is sometimes what is promised), with consultants paid from a proportion of the funding obtained. Having a well-trained and experienced consultant doing the legwork for you has clear advantages but there are no guarantees: remember that hundreds of organisations all over Europe are applying for the same pot of money.
So what is the point? Well, you might win, and the secret is finding the right help and the best advice.
The most important factor is the proposal itself – so before you start it’s worth asking some key questions that funders will demand convincing answers to.
What exactly are you proposing? Is your idea ground-breaking? What would be the benefits to the wider European community after you finish with the project? And finally, what will be the benefits to the local community?
Sharing the findings of your project can be vital: open the results to the European community and there is a good chance that some of the costs will be covered by one or another EU-funded project.
Remember too that the money for the funds ultimately comes from your taxes, part of which the UK government pays the EU to retain membership. This money is spent by the EU to create funding opportunities for a broad range of projects – so if your idea involves improving competitiveness with Europe, developing new capabilities, opening new markets or exploring new horizons, then be aware that these are titles for current EU funding streams.
Finally, if you are planning to spend money on a project speak with us first. We may be able to help you join forces with a suitable partner to apply for EU Funding. Be prepared to share the results and findings – and new funding and business opportunities could be heading your way.
Georgi Ivanov – High Growth Coach