General information about the scheme
The total budget for FTI in 2015 is EUR 100 million, which will be divided equally between the three cut-off dates in April, September and December. Based on that, the EC plans to fund between 50-70 projects each year and it is expected that the scheme is going to be extremely competitive with a success rate of around 5-10%.
FTI is open to all types of participants, including universities, RTOs, SMEs, large companies, incubators, first time applicants, etc. and supports Innovation Actions across Pillars 2 (LEIT) and 3 (Societal Challenges) of Horizon 2020 i.e. FTI NMP, or FTI Energy. Consortia must have between three and five beneficiaries from different Member States, or Associated Countries, with significant industry participation and must meet the specific eligibility criteria as regards either the number of industrial partners in the consortium, or the share of the total budget allocated to industrial partners, which are specified in the FTI Work Programme.
Legal entities from third countries (including Switzerland) can participate in FTI projects only as third parties i.e. subcontractors, under standard Horizon 2020 conditions.
An important clarification was made by the European Commission during the FTI Infoday in Brussels as regards the introduction of the innovative product, or service to the market. This should be done within 36 months from the grant award NOT from the project end date.
Project activities supported by the FTI scheme
FTI projects will support a wide range of activities, including the following :
· Advanced specific research and development activities;
· Standard setting and advanced performance testing/ piloting and demonstration activities;
· Validation of solutions in real working conditions; and
· Business model validation.
No typical commercial activities (including marketing activities) will be supported due to EU competition rules, but funding can be used to improve an existing marketing strategy in order to help maximise impact (i.e. developing further an existing marketing strategy to include more countries, etc.).
Part A of the proposal will be similar to that other Innovation Actions and the submission system will automatically recognise industry participants, based on the information provided during registration of the beneficiaries.
The page limit for Part B (technical annex) is 30 pages and, ideally, this part of the proposals will demonstrate the EU added value of the project (i.e. positive impact on EU economy and society, as well as links to relevant EU policies).
All proposals must include a business plan that clearly describes the market potential, business opportunities for participants, measures to enhance the probability of potential commercial take-up and a credible commercialisation strategy.
Evaluation will take a maximum 3 months from the respective cut-off date and will be done by four experts who have relevant commercial and financial expertise, although the Commission is currently considering changing the number of evaluators to five.
Proposals will only be evaluated remotely, so there will be no consensus meeting and the arithmetical average of scores will be calculated during evaluation.
The overall threshold for proposals to make it to the ranking list will be 12/15 and for the impact criterion – 4/5.
During the FTI Infoday, the Commission confirmed that there will be only one ranking list per cut-off date, meaning that there will be no split between FTI rankings in LEIT and Societal Challenges.
Grant Agreement and project management
The standard Horizon 2020 Model Grant Agreement will be used for FTI projects and there will be no negotiations during grant preparation phase, as in other parts of the programme.
Maximum project duration will be 36 months with a maximum EU contribution of EUR 3 million, but the Commission expects that the average project duration will be 12-24 months.
The Commission confirmed that no penalties will be applied if the product, or service is not introduced to the market by the project end date, as the FTI is currently only a pilot scheme, but such situations will be taken into account when reviewing the scheme after 2016.
FTI Pilot vs SME Instrument
An important clarification was also provided by the Commission regarding the differences between FTI and the SME Instrument:
· The main difference is that there will be no necessity to introduce the innovative product, or service to the market under the SME Instrument, while this will be the main goal under FTI;
· SME Instrument is open only to SMEs, while any legal entity (including universities) can participate in the FTI;
· FTI requires multinational consortia (between three and five partners based in EU Member States, or Associated Countries), while a single enterprise can apply under the SME Instrument.
Subscribers can direct their questions about the scheme to their UKRO European Advisors, or directly to the functional mailbox set up by the Commission: RTD-FTI-EVENT@ec.europa.eu
A link to the web stream from the FTI Infoday is provided below.
· Fast Track to Innovation Pilot Work Programme (.pdf)
· Horizon 2020 website with information about FTI
· FTI Pilot Call on Participant Portal
· FAQs on the Fast Track to Innovation Pilot (.pdf)
· Web stream from FTI Infoday in Brussels