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EUREKA Eurostars eligibility check – is your project qualified for innovation funding?

5th June 2024 at 8:04 pm

Thinking of taking your innovative product or technology to the next level? The Eurostars programme might be the perfect fit. This public funding initiative specifically supports innovative SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) by providing financial support for research and development (R&D) projects with global market potential. There are many good reasons to apply for a Eurostars grant, i.e. non-dilutive and non-repayable funds. For example, the success rates (+/- 30%) are higher than in the popular EIC Accelerator (+/- 2%), a Horizon Europe funding instrument, and project consortia are smaller than in most other funding schemes. However, navigating the programme’s eligibility requirements can feel like untangling a complex web. This blog will guide and help you understand the different Eurostars eligibility criteria, ensuring your application is able to secure funding and turn your novel ideas into a reality.

General eligibility rules

Eurostars supports innovative SMEs and their partners (also SMEs, large companies, research institutions and any other type of organisations) by funding international collaborative R&D and innovation projects. Projects should be aimed at the creation of new products, processes or services that can be rapidly commercialised in European and global markets within 2 years after the project ends. To achieve this ambition, EUREKA defined the following seven eligibility criteria which all applicants must fulfil:

  1. The project consortium is led by an innovative SME from one of the 37 Eurostars country (to be innovative, SMEs do not need a proven track record of R&D activities anymore).
  2. The project consortium is composed of at least two entities that are independent of one another.
  3. The project consortium is composed of entities from at least two Eurostars countries, with at least one organisation coming from an EU or Horizon Europe Associated Country.
  4. The budget of all involved SMEs from a Eurostars country is 50% or more of the total project cost (excluding subcontracting).
  5. No single participant or country has planned more than 70% of the project costs.
  6. The project duration is max. 36 months.
  7. The project has an exclusive focus on civil applications.

Eurostars is targeted to innovative SMEs from a total of 37 EUREKA countries that are all co-financing this programme. The Eurostars countries include most of the EU Member States, other European countries such as Switzerland, and even some non-European countries like Canada and Singapore. Since it is the national funding bodies that ultimately fund positively evaluated projects, each participating country has its funding coverage policy for SMEs and other types of participants and might even have additional eligibility criteria one needs to fulfil. To check the specific funding rates and conditions for your company and project partners, we’ve summarised the details for every participating country for you in the interactive map below. This map provides details on the national funding body, funding rates per organisation type and links to countries’ pages on the Eurostars website for further details:

Country-specific eligibility rules

While Eurostars offers a great framework for innovative project funding, there are some variations depending on where you’re located. Knowing these variations is important because your choice of partners can affect the final project structure and your eligibility for funding. Here’s a breakdown of some common types of country-specific criteria you might encounter:

Funding rates: industrial research vs. experimental development

Some national funding bodies within Eurostars distinguish activities into two types to determine the final funding rate. Industrial research focuses on the earlier stage, gathering new knowledge through activities such as feasibility studies and proof-of-concept development. Experimental development, on the other hand, applies that knowledge to create new products or processes by developing prototypes or pilot runs. Countries distinguishing between these two types of activities provide higher funding rates for industrial research as these early-stage activities lay the groundwork for future breakthroughs and are inherently riskier from an economic point of view. Poland, the Czech Republic and Iceland are examples of countries having these rules in place, funding up to 80% and 60% for industrial research and experimental development activities respectively.

Consortium composition

Building a strong consortium is key to a Eurostars project. In some countries, like Norway, Denmark, and Belgium, local universities and research organisations can only participate if a national SME is also on board. This ensures knowledge transfer within a country’s borders and benefits the local economy.  Some countries like Croatia even take it a step further, allowing local universities and research organisations only to participate as subcontractors of a Croatian company. This helps prevent solely funnelling valuable knowledge outside the country as well. So, remember to check your national Eurostars guidelines for specific consortium composition rules.

Grant types

The type of Eurostars funding you receive in the end can vary depending on your country. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of funding mechanisms which are being used among the different Eurostars countries:

  1. Cash Grant: This is by far the most common option, where you will get reimbursed for approved project costs at set intervals throughout the project’s duration.
  2. Loan: Israel is an example of a country where you will receive funding in terms of a loan: The loan will need to be repaid gradually over several years after the project as a percentage of your annual revenue. This also means that if your project produces no revenue, there will be no need to repay the loan.
  3. Tax credit: In Malta for example, you have the option to receive funding for your project costs in the form of a tax credit, reducing your tax burden in subsequent financial years.

Understanding the different eligibility criteria and funding options available in your country is essential for making informed financial plans when setting up your project and applying for Eurostars grants. By familiarising yourself with these variations, you can ensure your Eurostars application is well-positioned to receive the support it needs to turn your innovative ideas into reality.

Check your Eurostars eligibility

Figuring out Eurostars can involve some legwork. You’ll need to navigate programme documents and specific requirements for each funding call and check your national Eurostars website for details on funding mechanisms (remember, the money comes from your country’s funding agency, not the European Commission directly). This can be time-consuming and leave you with questions. But we’ve got a handy tool to help! Our online Eurostars eChecker lets you quickly see if your organisation is eligible and if your project idea or technology aligns with Eurostars’ requirements.

Eurostars support with accelopment

Do not navigate the Eurostars application process alone! Benefit from our many years of proposal writing experience and optimise your chances of success. Our expert team has a proven track record of helping innovative SMEs secure funding, with projects like AirToxMonitor, MiniLib and RETWood achieving remarkable results through Eurostars support. You’re welcome to contact us to discuss your project and see how we can help turn your innovative vision into a Eurostars reality.

Robin Vanneste
Business & Finance Associate