10 improvements to Horizon 2020 funding

In the past two weeks I’ve been looking at plans for Horizon 2020, contributing to the consultation and sounding out experts from across Europe. We have plenty of time to look at it. It will launch only once the budget has been voted for. The earliest we can expect a launch will be at the end of 2014. But consultation is only possible now for 1 month to try and effect it’s construction.

Horizon 2020

In my experience of this consultation there is plenty for the Commission to work with. Here is my prescription for a successful funding scheme;

1) Make it properly SME friendly. If you’re small you don’t want your best chance of funding to be an enormous integrated project headed by one of the 5 typical system integrators in Europe ( or nearby). Most innovation comes from SMEs and often it comes from their own development. So quicker smaller solo or small group SME schemes please!

2) Some of the recent calls have been so heavily over subscribed that there is merely a 10 or 20% chance of success. This follows a very heavy application process. So please, let’s have a two stage process. A short and simple application, and more rigour demanded at the later stage of the application.

3) Less prescriptive calls. All projects are judged on their ability to advance the state of the art. Almost by definition this rules out the radical and can only accommodate the incremental innovations. Broad areas of societal challenge should be the limit of a call description.

4) More initiatives that encourage bottom-up innovation. The funding from the commission is already creating networks of excellence, but simple event led innovation incubators and networks would bring out much more innovation.

5) Broad trends like volunteer data need to be targeted and encouraged. The networked society is still an under utilised asset in Europe.

6) Initiatives to break the US dominance in social networks and the centralisation that happens to our data over there.

7) Initiatives that support growth markets where we used to be a world leader (mobile gaming, computer games etc.)… And those where we are… (Location Information for the growing context aware application market).

8) Initiatives that scale up the top class innovations from home countries rather than the default of selling out to non-European corporates. See Productiv in the UK. In this way we keep the essential skills and the greater part of the returns within Europe.

9) The EC needs to track the effectivity of these investments more effectively. How many businesses have prospered from post project activity? What contribution to the GDP? Actively engage the project community and use the dialogue to find “what happened next” and use this to quash the cynical.

10) Embrace the crowd funding trends. Why let a small group of experts vote when a large group can vote with their own funds?

These were my 10 for an improved funding structure in Europe. What are yours?

David

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dbyhundred: Building business on Open principles

By all measures our project “SplashMaps” is turning out to be a success and is now a thiving business.

We launched the business in November, it gained over £8000 in crowd funding in December and in January we held our first show at the Outdoors Show.  In terms of publicity our integrated marketing programme has led to 2 live radio appearances and 7 news slots on BBC Television News.  We’ve featured in on-line media and when the TV programme Dragons Den came to visit us at our Outdoors Show they could not beat their way through the press to talk with us!

So why the clamour?  Isn’t this just a very simple idea.

Innovation, of course, is not about the idea.  It’s about putting the idea into action.  And in part the interest is as much about how we created our proposition as it is about the fabulous product itself.  So here’s what we’ve done.

1) We’ve taken the best principles from the technologies we understand

2) We’ve applied them to optimise our design

3) We’ve done this with our future customers on-board

4) We’ve used the “crowd” to provide data, funding and product improvement ideas

5) Our physical product improves with every iteration and the range of products are targeted at key markets where we actually KNOW they are in demand.

Our result is a product that beats the physical and digital mapping competition on weight, size, clarity, handlability, durability, profitability and usability.  Well, that’s what SplashMaps customers tell us anyway ;-).

EU Funding is about to change; here comes Horizon 2020

The UK’s team that looks after European FP7 funding for collaborations invited me to a workshop and briefing.  As an enticer they promised to share their views on the forthcoming Horizon 2020 plans from Europe which will replace the current funding frameworks (CIP, FP7 etc.).

Don't fall into the funding gap!
More money than ever, but don’t miss this train! The gap is going to be BIG!

I am not alone in thinking that the changes proposed (and not yet agreed) will miss deadlines in 2013 leading to a significant gap between the closure of the current funding cycles and the beginning of 2020.  If there’s no other message to take from this blog… LOOK AT THE current FP7 offerings NOW!  Forthcoming Deadlines at December 4th and January 15th are still  feasible for these 75% funded projects (of course I can help… see later ;-)).  These final calls in the FP cycle access the largest amount of money every provided, so the chances appear strong for your success!  Waiting for the CIP call may be a good idea (draft in my possession and publishing in January), but will be a lower reward typically at just 50% funding.

So what’s new in Horizon 2020?  A consolidation of all the funding types appears to be a typical attempt to simplify the process, but really it just chunks-up the funding in a different way.  If your research is anywhere near generic in a realm like ICT, then the right call for you could be found in any one of the social challenges.  Or perhaps you’d identify more with a “Key Enabling Technology” pilot which will be multidisciplinary, cutting across many technology areas with a bias towards convergence and integration.  A lot of emphasis is on initiatives that will help projects “cross the valley of death” between research and the market.  So as you would imagine a greater portion of the money is directed toward Innovation rather than pure R&D.

Venture capital features as a new element.  In the group of learned FP7 gurus in the BIS on Tuesday this was seen as a nod toward the SME’s as a new plan to address the co-funding issues that always arise.

For a heads up, here are the slides on Horizon 2020 from the FP7 UK guys  ict – h2020 v 0_7

If you do research, innovation, business and collaborations or want to expand your influence, motivate your people and gain from this significant amount of Euro cash, please get in touch with me to improve your chances of success.

doverton@dbyhundred.co.uk