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7.000 Million Euros for R&D

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

The EU opens 51 calls till May 2012 for the presentation of proposals.

Companies, Universities and Spanish Research Centers face the challenge of further improving the overall 380 Million Euros funding which have been allocated to date to 1.400 Spanish beneficiaries.

Within the “7th Framework Programme for R&D” (or more commonly referred to as FP7), the European Commission has recently published several calls for proposals to finance R&D projects carried out by European institutions and researchers. There are 51 calls for proposals in the following areas: Health, Biotechnology, Information and Communication Technology, Nanomaterials, Energy, Environment, Transport, Social Sciences, Space, Security, Researches mobility, and SME promotion. These calls will start closing from October onwards, up to May 2012.

FP7 was set up in 2007 with a duration of 7 years so to meet the needs of European organizations in terms of research and competitiveness and help them consolidate their competitiveness in this area with respect to the knowledge-based global economy. The estimated funding amounts cover several areas. The majority of the funding available is attributed to Cooperation Projects which seek to promote collaborative pan-European research (also allowing for the participation of non-European countries in many cases) through transnational collaborative projects between Industrial and Academic institutions. The Ideas Program, the second most important in terms of funding, supports cutting-edge research with a very strong focus on scientific excellence. Research can be undertaken in any Science, Technology, Engineering, Socio-economic sciences and Humanities area. Unlike the Cooperation program, transnational collaboration is not compulsory.

Need for Cooperation

Javier Calvet co-founder of Econet Consultants, a leading European consulting firm in the area of Innovation Management with a primary focus on European R&D projects, feels that: “the main difficulties in building a good project consist in identifying the topic within the call which better fits the R&D project of the applicant, and finding the appropriate European organizations to form the consortium”.
To him, “a good European R&D project should have between 7 and 30 members, who must work together for 2 or 3 years, in a 2-4 million Euros project, while taking into account that all preparation, coordination and teamwork activities will also be essential to the project’s success”.

Capacity of improvement

Since the beginning of FP7, about 1.400 Spanish organizations have benefited from these grants, receiving approximately 380 Million Euros. This number could have been higher, given Spain’s potential for research as the rate at which its contributes to the EU’s R&D budget (around 8%). However, given the competitiveness of FP7 and the level of requirement in terms of content both from a scientific / technological (innovativeness of the project idea) and financial point of view (costs related to the project and the consortium ), the overall success rate in Spain is around 20%. In the case of the projects managed by Econet, this success rate is success double (35%). “This is due to the fact that we are very strict in selecting the projects, and that we have also been in the market for 20 years. Econet’s international orientation with personnel in Brussels and offices 6 other EU countries has allowed us to develop a strong R&D network and develop the well-balanced consortiums for our clients, which is one of the keys to succeed in FP7”, says Calvet.

Grants for grants

Both national and regional governments encourage Spanish entities to take part in FP7, so to boost R&D in the country, as well as increase the returns of FP7 with respect to Spain in order for it to match national expenditure in the EU R&D budget. As a result, various financial support mechanisms (known as grants for grants) are provided, mainly by CDTI (Center for the Development of Industrial Technology) in order to help applicants to build a successful FP7 project proposal.

Econet is a consulting firm which offers support services in terms of project idea formulation (from a technology perspective), proposal drafting (technical, financial, organizational) as well as consortium creation. It often uses Grants for Grants in order to helps its clients cover their cost. With offices in 7 EU countries, collaboration patterns with many other Innovation consultancies and Research Centres, Econet is also involved in several projects in Latin America.

Coffee Break with Sanyu Karani

Monday, June 6th, 2011

See our new video: Coffee Break with Sanyu Karani at MadridEmprende (May the 5th 2011)

The Start-Up Experience

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Sanyu Karani intervention , President and Founder of Econet Consultants, at the III Committee Debate AECA “Entrepreneurship and Job Creation” held on 28 February in Madrid.

Welcome to Poland Valley

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Hundred start-up incubators located in universities and business parks in less than three years. Twenty venture capital public funds with 180 million euros for start ups and entrepreneurs. 350 consultants approved by the development agency of SMBs to help entrepreneurs and businessmen. 239 new companies  in the Stock Exchange in the last three years including the secondary technological market… Silicon Valley? Not, wrong answer. We are talking about Poland Valley.

Poland is the only Member state of the European Union (EU) that has not entered recession during the  financial crisis. And that, which is never a matter of luck, has been achieved it with a model of balanced growth based among others on the Spanish experience (something that can turn out to be paradoxical seen the current moment of the Spanish economy).

In the years before joining the European Union, the Poles were travelling in delegation every week to our country. Spain was their model. They studied scrupulously both our process of integration and the later phases of negotiation, reception and application of the European funds. They were like Spain twenty years earlier. And they were right: Poland is a catholic country that comes from an agricultural economy as ours then, with a similar development and almost the same inhabitants.

They wanted to become the new Spain and, certainly, they have achieved it in terms of reception of structural funds from the EU. They used parts of our model, but they took good note of our mistakes. They did not just invest in highways. They put aside a good part of their budget  to support to his business sector and started an operative program of Innovative Economy with funds of the EU but co-financed by their central Administration.

If you are an entrepreneur, in Poland they start supporting you from the very moment in which you feel the motivation to start something. In the university they “pre-incubate” you; they do not even require you to have an idea at that stage. They help you to look for your own idea. Once you finish your high education and you already have the idea, you can go to an incubator that in addition to training, consultancy, mentoring, space and computer teams almost free, offers you finance for up to 200.000 euros to invest in your company.

And the most amazing thing is that the best incubators in Poland are private. In the last years, a good number of private foundations have supported the entrepreneur, with a positive result.

On top of the private initiative, the public one does not stay behind: if the start of your company has been fine and you need capital to consolidate and to expand your business, for every euro that you obtain of private capital, the Administration grants another euro of public venture capital. And they still have a good percentage of available capital of 180 million euros for next two years.

The Poles have been a fast learner. From Spain but  also from other countries. But they are not done. They want to make it better. And they look again at Spain. They feel comfortable with our reference. And the fact is that in Spain, we do not lack support for entrepreneurs in the initial phases. What we lack is bank financing and entrepreneurial spirit. What we need to get rid of is bureaucracy.

Between the good practices of Spain that attract attention again of the Poles there is the impressive network of start up incubators from Incyde, an NGO from the  Chambers of Commerce supporting entrepreneurs.
Next to a hundred of incubators and more than six thousand companies created in only ten years of work. In Incyde they support the entrepreneur even if it fails. Their motto: ” It does not always work fine the first time“.

Perhaps we are learning finally that one of the bases of an enterprising culture is the tolerance to failure. I hope our children could one day start up their companies in Spain Valley.

Sanyu Karani is a founder of Econet in Poland and specialist in public financing. (News published in El País 15/05/2011)