R&D grants: where the heck do I start - 1

Updated: Nov 9, 2018

That may very well be what you’re asking yourself if you’re considering going for a grant. To this question, the answer is simple: it depends.

You have a wonderful, disruptive idea but don’t know how to fund its proof of concept?

You are an SME and you are looking for an option to fund the development of a new project?

This series aims at giving you an idea of where to start: what you need to determine, and what kind of grants you can apply for.

1. What do I need to determine first?

First, you need to determine if you actually do need a grant! Are there any other funding options available, particularly self-funding? Grants are competitive in nature, and getting one will require a significant investment in senior time - and possibly an actual cash investment. More on that later.

Once you have determined that you really want to go after a grant, the first question you should aim to answer is: what do I need the money for? Do you need to cover the salaries of R&D staff? Do you need to gain knowledge on a particular aspect, or to buy equipment? 

You’ll also have to determine precisely how innovative your company or project is - and it's a delicate question. Some grants will help you grow. R&D grants will cover projects that are new, innovative and disruptive. Some grants will fund any kind of innovation, others are reserved for technological breakthroughs.

Further, you'll have to define what you want it for: do you need a grant to cover some elements of the overall development of your company, or for a new project? You won’t apply to the same grants in one case or the other.

Finally, the grant you apply for will depend on the stage of development of your company or your project:

The Technology Readiness Level scale gets useful here: it is a score (TRL 1 to 9) which evaluates the technological maturity of your project. Here is the scale, as presented by the European Commission:

Click here to read the second part of this series.

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