Eureka Eurostars, often called Eurostars, is the only European funding programme that is solely dedicated to supporting early-stage R&D-performing companies, including start-ups. It is a consortium programme that welcomes international collaborations, mainly between small companies and academic researchers.

Eurostars is a joint programme between EUREKA and the European Commission, co-funded from the national budgets of 37 Eurostars Participating States and Partner Countries, and by the European Union through Horizon Europe.

The specific rules and regulations for applicants differ for each country. In each case they are set by the respective National Contact Point (NCP).

Table of contents

In this playbook, we’ll tell you all about:

  1. Eurostars
  2. Who can participate?
  3. Funding Conditions
  4. Building a Wining Consortium
  5. Write a High-Quality Proposal
  6. Submission Tips
  7. What’s next?

 


1. Eurostars

The focus of the Eurostars programme is collaborative international early-stage R&D projects working on a marketable product, process or service.

Eurostars supports the first three years of development of marketable innovative products, processes and services that address global markets to help improve the daily lives of people around the world.

A Eurostars project can address any technological area for any market but must have a civilian purpose and be aimed at the development of a new product, process or service.

Eurostars has two submission deadlines

 


2. Who can participate?

Eurostars is designed to support SMEs from Eureka member countries in their innovative projects. SMEs fitting the description of an innovative SME are eligible to lead a consortium.

Universities, research institutes, hospitals, and companies may be allowed to participate in some countries but they cannot be the main applicant of a Eurostars project.

Do you meet the requirements of an innovative SME?

Innovative SMEs should have the ambition to collaborate on R&D and innovation with foreign partners to develop new products, processes and services for European and global markets. Innovative SMEs do not need to have a proven track record of R&D activities.

 


3. Funding Conditions

Most Eureka countries fund 50% of each applicant’s project costs up to €0.5 million subsidy. A typical project with three SME partners could receive €1.5 million subsidy. Some countries fund a greater or a smaller portion of projects and the maximum funding amount may change too.

In some countries, academic collaborators may be eligible for 100% funding. It is essential to be aware of your, and your consortium partners’, funding conditions in respective countries.

Does your project fit with Eurostars?

To determine whether your project fits the grant, consider the following questions:

  • Is the funding offer what you are looking for?
  • Is your technology at TRL 4-6?
  • Is the budget sufficient to fund your project?
  • Are you able to co-finance the amount of money required for this project?
  • What are the eligible costs for the grant?
  • Can you pay salaries, get equipment and consumables from the grant?
  • Are your overheads eligible for this specific funding opportunity?
  • Are you looking for an International collaboration?

 


4. Building a Winning Consortium

Having a strong, complementary consortium that addresses the objectives and has the capacity to carry out the work is key for a winning proposal. Keep in mind that subcontractors cannot be consortium partners.

1. Start on time

Most important: start on time! Getting the right people on board can be a lengthy and challenging process. Establishing a consortium is one thing, but managing all partners during the preparation phase and aligning their interests into one coherent project plan is trickier.

2. Envision your ideal partners

A strong consortium has the following characteristics:

  • Complementary. Each partner should have a unique role and bring in a special, required expertise or technology to perform the proposed activities.
  • Interdisciplinary. To tackle outstanding challenges, collaborations need to connect viewpoints and knowledge. Going beyond a single discipline and combining partners from various disciplines is essential.
  • Geographically balanced. Partners from a range of European countries, including Eastern European countries.
  • Excellent. A strong consortium brings together the brightest minds in their respective fields and markets.
  • Synergy. The partners should not be able to complete the project without one another.

3. Identify the expertise that is required to bring your innovation to the next level

Before you start contacting potential partners, make sure to identify all the different expertise required, and only then look for candidates to address each specific role. This will ensure you have a balanced consortium with all the complementary expertise to deliver results.

4. Make sure you fulfill eligibility criteria

  • A Eurostars consortium must consist of at least 2 independent partners from at least 2 different Eurostars countries.
  • A Eurostars project must be coordinated by an innovative SME.
  • Ensure that your potential partner is eligible to participate in Eurostars by reading the country-specific eligibility information.
  • Encourage each of your partners to contact their National Contact Points (NCPs) to guarantee eligibility and obtain additional information on relevant eligibility requirements. Financial eligibility is an important criteria for Eurostars and needs to be discussed with the corresponding NCPs beforehand.
  • All consortium partners must submit their last 2 financial reports. If they only have 1 or if they have not closed a financial year yet, they must submit a complete business plan. If this is the case, keep in mind that submitting an investor business plan with financial planning is an advantage.

 


5. Write a High-Quality Proposal

You and your consortium are now ready to write a high-quality proposal. With these tips you will successfully make it to the finish line:

1. Develop a convincing business case

Before you start writing it is important to develop a business case. Having this prepared before you begin writing will enable you to best shape your proposal with the correct writing style.

2. Be clear and concise

While this is important for all writing tasks, it carries an additional weight in Eurostars as each section has a word limit. You must be clear, to the point, convincing, and present sufficient detail in the space you are given.

How do you write down exactly what you mean? First, start each paragraph with the conclusion of that idea. Second, following this conclusion, focus on writing sentences that support the conclusion only. Then apply the same steps to the rest of the proposal to ensure concise writing.

3. Writing style

Compared to more scientific grants, Eurostars has a strong business focus. Treat the Eurostars proposal as a pitch: Sell, do not tell. It is important to adopt a business plan writing style that addresses the business aspects of the R&D project and avoid too much technical jargon.

4. Visuals

Given the form-like format of Eurostars, you cannot include figures in the text. Instead, you are allowed to submit a 10-page annex that can include figures and letters of support. Make sure to create clear supporting figures illustrating concepts, timelines etc. Do not forget to number your figures and refer to these in your text.

5. Minimize the time the reviewer spends on reading

Consider that reviewers must go through many proposals. Get straight to the point. Is it necessary to explain a medical problem in detail if everybody already knows that cardiovascular diseases are deadly? Kn

 


6. Submission Tips

Grant agreement phase

The Eurostars proposal is composed of several sections, each with a different word limit. The proposal is entered into the portal in dedicated sections in a text box with limited formatting options. You need to have prepared what to fill in beforehand.

In order to submit, all sections must be marked as complete. While generally changes and edits to text will be automatically saved, clicking submit will only be allowed once 100% of the proposal is marked complete. This includes all sections of all partner accounts as well.

Note: Budgets need to be marked as complete every time they are opened even if changes are not made.

With the new program, some documents that were previously required after submission are now required at submission. These include an SME self assessment (all SME partners) and the Commitment and Signature form (all partners).

Submit on time

The application process can become overwhelming. Efforts to align the proposed work plan and collect all required documentation can take significant time and effort. As an applicant, it is easy to underestimate the time needed for the portal preparation and project submission. Plan to have a final version of text and all documentation 4-5 days before deadline.

Keep in mind that on the day of the deadline, portals are often overloaded with applications resulting in slow processing and sub-optimal functioning of the site. The best way to avoid missing your deadline is to submit at least 48 hours before the deadline.

Keep in mind that, once you have submitted your proposal with all the sections filled in, you cannot edit it anymore. To re-submit, you will need to create a new project and fill in the entire portal again. Make sure to carefully double-check everything and submit your final proposal.

 


7. What’s next?

Congratulations! You have been awarded a Eurostars grant. Before you can start to work on the project you have to obtain an ethics clearance and finish the last preparation steps of the Consortium Agreement. This phase must be finished within a strict timeframe set out by the European Commission (EC). During this phase, you must provide necessary documentation and finish the consortium agreement document. This consists of the formal agreements between the EC and the project consortium, the timelines and budget of the project and the description of the action.

Managing your project

Once your project is running, successfully managing your project comes down to these three key elements: communication, reporting, and issue resolution.

The Catalyze Project Management Team can be your strategic partner in running a successful Eurostars project. We provide structure, regulatory expertise, and a direct communicative link from the kick-off meeting to the final report.

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. We understand that your original project plan might not always fit in the less than predictable world of research. We can work with you to navigate the rules and regulations around change requests and no-cost extensions and to produce the best solution.