How to apply?

Do you have an innovative project idea?

What is a call for proposals?
The European Commission advertises grant opportunities through calls for proposals. The call for proposal includes all the information needed to submit a proposal and therefore it should be read with extreme care. The call text defines for example the scope, targeted objectives and outcomes, eligibility criteria and evaluation criteria. The idea is to ensure that your project proposal matches perfectly with mentioned requirements of the call. In fact, it would be better if your project proposal matches 110% with the call, because competition for EU funding is high and your project competes against other extremely good project proposals.

What next?
Browse the websites offering an overview of available national and European calls for proposals. Go visit the European Commission’s official page of EU Funding and Tenders Portal or CORDIS, Business Finland, Spinbase,, Green Deal office for instance. These platforms usually allow for a keyword search or enable you to select specific themes that are relevant to you.

Once you have identified one or more themes that look interesting at a first glance, skim the text to find confirming or excluding criteria.

How to read a call for proposal?
Have a look at the picture to identify the main things to consider if a call is interesting for you.

Main points of a call for proposals and tips for reading it

  1. Requested activity and results: particularly “specific challenge”, “scope”, expected impacts”.
  2. Grant amount for your project.
  3. Funding rate: many funding schemes require companies to contribute to the costs of the projects, and they can tie the release of funds to some milestones.
  4. Consortium criteria: there might be a minimum number of partners and a minimum number of countries allowed. Note that some non-EU countries such as Norway, Israel and Switzerland, can be eligible to participate in EU proposals. There may also be criteria related to company size.
  5. TRL (Technology Readiness Level) may be requested. This means how advanced and validated your technology is. Read here about the TRL levels regarding SMEs and mid-caps and about large companies.
  6. Duration: minimum and maximum duration, possibility to apply for longer timeframes for some fields (for example health).
  7. Single stage or two-stage proposal process.
  8. Deadlines: by when you need to fill forms/upload and submit documents.

Important issues to consider

  • Carefully read the key words used in the call: do they match with your project? Can they be referenced credibly throughout your proposal?
  • Is the grant amount in the right ballpark for your technology and does it match your and your partners’ expectations?
  • Can you and your partner partially fund and/or advance money and resources for the project?
  • Does your initial group of interested companies fit the consortium criteria (in terms of company size or national diversity for instance)? Do you lack some skills and if this is the case, can you find partners easily within the given time?
  • Is your technology at the minimum level requested – or a bit higher? You want to have an edge on possible competitors applying not to be “average”. 
  • Is the time frame adequate for you?
  • Do you have enough time to write your project proposal? Build in an adequate buffer for partner discussions on tasks and budgets!

Would you like to start an EU project with business partners?

How to build a consortium?

Start the process

Register your organisation to the EU Funding and Tenders Portal

Whether you are a single applicant, consortium leader or a partner in a consortium, you need to register your organisation to EU Funding and Tenders Portal. By doing so, you will receive a Participant Identification Code (PIC) which you will need in the application process. This is your identification code based on which your organisation is identified in the application process. To register your organisation, follow these steps:

  1. Go to EU Funding and Tenders Portal
  2. Register yourself as a user by clicking the ”REGISTER” button in the top right corner.
  3. Fill out the requested information and follow the instructions.
  4. Sign in and go to ”My organisation”.
  5. Go to the bottom of the page and click ”Continue registration”. 
  6. Fill out  the information and follow the instructions.
  7. Save your PIC code.
Bonus tip: In case you do not know your PIC code, you can find it by searching your organisation in the partner search section.

Prepare your application

What is expected from your application?

Applications come in many shapes and sizes depending on what you are applying for. They range from 5 pages (EIC Accelerator 1st phase) to 300 pages (Key Digital Technologies) and may have several required annexes. The most common application structures are presented below but check the requirements of your desired call before you start writing. Hover / tap the cards below to see Innovation Fund.



Soundness of the concept & quality of the objectives (including relevance to the call topic) including the progress beyond the current state-of-the-art.


Innovativeness of the proposed technology / product in relation to the state-of-the-art and how it goes beyond incremental innovation.


Contribution to the expected impacts mentioned in the Work Programme for this topic at European and international level (including relevance to objective of the call)


Potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribution to EU policy objectives like the new Circular Economy Action Plan, the shift to renewables and increased electrification, energy efficiency, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the Bioeconomy Strategy.


Quality and efficiency of the implementation and the management with specific emphasis on the quality of the individual participants and the Consortium as a whole. Budget figures shall be assessment aiming at identification of unjustified or excessive costs.


Technical, financial and operational maturity of the project, focusing on the degree of technology readiness and technical feasibility, soundness of business plan and financial model and project implementation plan.

General funding principles

There are three important things that you need to keep in mind when applying for EU funding: (1) Co-financing (2) No double financing and (3) No-profit rule.

Co-financing principle
It is good to remember that the EU will finance about 40-100% of your project, so you always need to make sure how much co-financing is needed. Also remember that the EU grant or part of it may only be paid out some time after the activity has been reported.

No double financing rule
This means that you can only use the money to the purpose you have promised to use it in your application. Usually, it is possible to combine the EU grant with other funding programmes and state aid but the funding should not overlap. You are not able to apply any other funding for the same purpose. Naturally, you are allowed to have several EU projects running in parallel, but the objectives and the activities need to be different in each one of them.

No-profit rule
This can be tricky. You must separate your company and your project. Your company can, of course, make profit but the project cannot. If the project generates income, you must state and report this income as it may affect the grant. This is because the EU cannot distort the competition by allowing the grants to be used directly for profit making. This is of course different for loans and equity.


Horizon Europe

You can budget your normal salaries for the project concerning the days used for project work. This includes all the statutory costs e.g. pension and insurance payments that are actual costs for the company.

If you have travelling needs in your project, travel costs are also eligible. Your company travel policy is valid in all your project travelling as well.

Equipment costs are any heavy duty equipment purchased during projects. These are usually depreciated over several years and you are only allowed to budget the depreciations that occur during the project time.

Subcontracting costs are costs for the action tasks specified in the Grant Agreement (GA) which are not carried out by the grant beneficiaries themselves but are outsourced to external third parties.

Other direct costs are any other purchases not specified in other categories that are eligible for the project.

Innovation Fund

Principles of budgeting in Innovation Fund is different compared to Horizon Europe. Innovation Fund for small-scale projects can fund only CAPEX and for the large-scale projects the funding covers CAPEX and OPEX, such as salaries. 

The European Commission has provided a specific, rather complicated methodology for the cost estimation which needs to be studied carefully. The general rule is that the applicant should provide a calculation of relevant costs and the applied funding is based on this calculation.

The funding is paid partly as a lump sum in the beginning of the project. When the project is running, the payments are linked to the production i.e., GHG reductions.

Read more on how to prepare your application

Convince the evaluators

The evaluation process varies slightly based on the call but the basic idea is the same everywhere. 

Who are the evaluators?

They are industry experts, professors, venture capitalists, lawyers or any other experts that are the most relevant people to evaluate your proposal. They are specifically selected based on the industry of your innovation. But there is no way of knowing who they are in advance and there is no way you can affect the selection process.

How do they evaluate?

Evaluators work under pressure. They have limited time to evaluate each application so all the important information must be in easy to read format and the application should not raise any questions. All should be clear from the beginning on. There are usually 3-6 evaluators and none of them can be from the same country as the applicant. They evaluate the application based on a specific set of evaluation criteria and give points usually from 0 to 5 or give a decision of GO / NO GO. Evaluation criteria varies by instrument so please check the evaluation criteria of your desired instrument and make sure to read the call text extra carefully. 

Will I be interviewed?

In some cases, yes! This depends on call but in some calls there are also interview rounds where a jury interviews you and you can present your pitch for the jury. This phase is usually evaluated only as GO / NO GO. Please check the call details to see if an interview is included in your call.

Where to get help?


You can find a lot of instructions io internet. They tend to be quite generic or heavily focused on the old Horizon programme. However, you may still benefit from them.

National contact point

In Finland, this is coordinated by Business Finland. They offer help for Finnish companies free of charge to apply for EU funding. However, their time may be limited and they can not give you any hands-on help.

Tip: You can also apply funding for the costs of the application process.

Consulting agencies

There are several consulting agencies, who are specialized in EU funding. They can provide very concrete hands-on help in preparing your application. You can look for example members of the European Association of Innovation Consultants (EAIC).

Why to apply

Got funded