How many participants of Horizon 2020 SME Instrument are in Lithuania? What are the elements of the formula of participation success? We searched for answers to these and other questions together with the clientele of the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA), or more precisely with true like-minded people who managed to find their own formula of success and agreed to share their good practice.
We are pleased to introduce the participants in the debate and the elements of the formula of success discovered by them.
CLEAR VISION AND A BOLD FIRST MOVE
21 Lithuanian enterprises have been awarded a grant of 5,06 million Euros of Horizon 2020 SME Instrument for the execution of 25 projects. 47 applications have been submitted by Lithuanian representatives of SMEs in the cut-offs of SME Instrument in 2014, and, compared to frequency of participation in 2016 when almost twice as much (i.e. 90 applications) have been submitted, this was a bold move. UAB “FERENTIS“ and UAB “SAULĖS VĖJO ARUODAI“ were among the first successful participants of this instrument.
“Our enterprise had a new, original and unique technology, strong implementation team, high-level scientists and a clear vision of how we intend to commercialize the technology being developed” says Vygandas Juras, Director of Business Development of UAB “FERENTIS“. However, according to the interlocutor, in addition to these factors, it was important to understand how to prepare an application that is specific by its nature and differs significantly from the traditional business plan.
Ignas Šlapkauskas, Director of UAB “SAULĖS VĖJO ARUODAI“, advises the SMEs of our country to participate more courageously in the instrument and to implement innovations for problem solving at the European or global level, and to pay great attention to the preparation of the application, to attract talents and to spend a sufficient amount of time on this matter.
THE AIM TO DEVELOP A HIGHER SPEED TO INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION AND LEADERSHIP
Applications of two phases can be submitted by the enterprises in the SME instrument. Applications during the first phase can be submitted to receive funding of the feasibility study and the assessment of innovation development and management skills of SMEs as well as the level of the effect of the product being developed. The European Commission (EC) grants lump sums of 50000 Euros for the applications of the first phase. Applications during the second phase are dedicated to the implementation of innovative activities and are sumbitted to receive funding of which the EC can grant from 0.5 to 2.5 million Euros. Statistics show that the success rates of participation are ranging from 3.8% to 5.3% in the second phase. This means that this instrument is very popular, many innovative SMEs compete and seek international development and leadership.
2017 was a very significant year for Lithuanian participants to the SME Instrument. According to the statistics, 5 applications have been submitted by Lithuanian representatives in the first cut-off of this year, 2 of them received funding and the success rate reached an unprecedented height: 40%. 2.76 million Euros were granted by the EC for the SMEs of our country. UAB “BALTIC ORTHOSERVICE“ received the biggest investment, i.e. 1.59 million Euros.
“We had a business idea of a European dimension, a prototype of product/technology developed, we paid a great deal of attention to the aspects of intellectual property and interdisciplinary knowledge, and the grant received made it possible to prepare the product/technology for commercialization at a greater pace within 2 years and to invest in publication of the innovation” says Dr. Gediminas Kostkevičius, Director of UAB “BALTIC ORTHOSERVICE“. The interlocutor adds that participation in the instrument was not only financially beneficial for the enterprise, but also significantly contributed to formation of its image. This is a certain “Sign of Quality“ which is highly appreciated not only by potential investors, potential partners of R&D activities, but also impresses customers of the enterprise.
BUSINESS PERCEPTION AND COOPERATION WITH CONSULTANTS
Vygandas Juras emphasizes importance of cooperation and consultations when he shares good practice. “The nuance lies in the fact that the winning applications are those applications which comply strictly with the criteria established by the assessors, not those applications which contain original answers. Therefore, you should imagine the way your application is being read by the assessors when you write it. It would be better to give it to the experts who wrote or assessed the applications of the European Union (EU) projects, as their critique would be invaluable in this case“ suggests Director of Business Development of UAB “FERENTIS“.
Dr. Gediminas Kostkevičius takes a different view. A healthy business perception, in his opinion, is the main element of the formula of success, not advices of consultants.
DISSEMINATION OF HORIZON 2020 INFORMATION
The EC has developed the network of National Contact Points (NCP) of Horizon 2020. The main function of NCP is to provide practical information and assistance to the applicants and participants of Horizon 2020.
“The NCP staff of our agency endeavours to inform promptly and adequately the clientele of the country on the terms and conditions of participation in Horizon 2020, to assess the suitability of the idea, to determine compliance of the level of readiness of the technology (TRL) that is being developed with the invitation requirements, to help search for the consortium partners, to advice on the issues of project management, business plan development, intellectual property protection, etc., to conduct pre-reading of the application and to submit comments and suggestions on the improvement of the application prepared” divulges the head of MITA.
We appreciate ideas and advices of the interlocutors of the debate and invite all readers to participate actively in Horizon 2020 programme and discover their own formula of success.
PhD in Biomedicine
MSc in Innovation Management
Edita has been working at the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) since 2011. She is National Contact Point for SMEs; NMBP – Nanotechnologies, advanced materials, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and processing; SC1 – Health, demographic change and wellbeing; SC2 – Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio-economy; & Biotechnology. She is a member of the “Horizon 2020” Programme Committee for SMEs, NMBP and SC2. She has worked 8+ years as a researcher and has over 6 years of experience in innovation management.