It is not without reason that the landscape of European funding programmes is often described as a dense jungle. There are numerous funding instruments covering a wide range of topics, all aimed at strengthening the European Union's competitiveness and preparing it for future environmental and economic developments.
The EIC Pathfinder, Transition and Accelerator funding programmes, which are aimed at research organisations, start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises with deep-tech innovations, are particularly popular. In the case of the EIC Accelerator, many would like to receive funding of up to €2.5 million and equity of up to €15 million. In order to receive one of the few funding commitments from the EIC, applicants must complete a three-stage application process consisting of a project outline, a full application and an interview. Applicants often seek professional help and hire a consultancy to prepare the application. But what should I look out for when choosing a consultancy?
With the increase in funding instruments, requirements for applicants and competition within project calls, a market for funding consultancy and management of funding projects has developed in recent years. EIC is now aware of the large number of consulting companies and independent funding consultants. For this reason, EIC has published a Code of Conduct for consultants offering services related to the submission of applications to EIC calls for proposals and the management of grant projects. Through the Code of Conduct, EIC aims to ensure transparency and promote professionalism and ethical working practices in the European innovation consultancy market. It also aims to assist applicants in finding high quality consultancy firms.
The Code of Conduct sets out a set of minimum standards to which consultancies can commit themselves when providing their services. The Code of Conduct is voluntary, but the EIC expects European consultants to adhere to it. The Code of Conduct is intended to help potential applicants in their selection of a consultancy firm and to demonstrate a professional and reliable way of working in the field of financing advice.
What can I expect from a consultancy?
Knowledge, experience and expertise: Consultants should always use their knowledge, experience and expertise for the benefit of their clients. Consultants should also have references and inform their clients about subcontracting to other consultants. In addition, consultants should be informed about current requirements and documents and participate in workshops organised by the EU Commission.
- Ethical way of working: Funding consultants should not simultaneously act as evaluators or jury members for the EIC. In addition, consultants should not accept assignments for which they lack the expertise or time capacity. Likewise, they should always act in the interests of the client and treat sensitive data confidentially. Similarly, only assignments that are worthwhile for the client should be accepted, i.e. the cost of the consultancy service should be less than the funds requested. In addition, clients must be informed of all necessary documents and deadlines.
- Transparency: If a direct competitor of an existing client is being advised at the same time, the new client must be informed. If this is not possible for confidentiality reasons, separate teams or staff must be assigned to the advice. Advisers also have a duty to inform and obtain client consent when using AI tools. Consultants should also inform their clients about the funding rates of the programmes.
- Quality & Confidentiality: The confidentiality of sensitive data should be clarified in writing before the contract is concluded. The consultancy is committed to a qualitative approach and transparent quality assurance.
- Fee: The consultant's fee must be clarified in advance and set out in a contract. The price for the consultancy service should also be transparent and easy for the client to understand. Consultants should not claim rights to the company or intellectual property in replacement of a fee. If consultants do become involved, the client should be given the option to buy back the shares at a predetermined value within a fixed period of time.
It is advisable to find out about the working methods and skills of consultancy firms before commissioning funding advice or project management. The Code of Conduct is available online and companies that have committed to it display a label on their website.
As a consultancy for innovation funding programmes, we at EurA expressly endorse the Code of Conduct published by the EIC and have been working in accordance with the principles and guidelines set out therein since our foundation in 1999. Our long experience and know-how, confidentiality and commitment characterise the way we work with our clients.
Are you considering applying for EIC funding? Whether EIC Pathfinder, Transition or Accelerator - we can advise and guide you through the application process. Then simply get in touch with us!
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