The Reality with the EU Funds
While scarcity is a problem that everyone can relate to, abundance is another extreme that most people hardly relate to as a problem. In the age of internet and information overload, abundance of information proves to be a bane of many sorts.
Access to EU funds is one such area. European Union’s SME support and Innovation provides plethora of avenues to support SMEs. While common sense dictates that with billions of funds available, there is opportunity for every good sustainable business, the reality is different.
One reason is information overload. While SME managers and Innovators look for information, there is overwhelming array of results that makes it difficult to navigate to the most relevant results. As a result, many innovators do not research the avenues thoroughly.
Other gaps can be attributed to the structure and nature of invitation of the project calls itself. For the innovators and SMEs even after navigating to the appropriate calls, tend to find the process overwhelming. Such innovators and SMEs (particularly those who are from Technology/Engineering background) end up getting lost in the process of preparation of the call, without understanding the spirit of the fund and present a losing pitch.
The reality with the EU funds: Firstly, the allocated funds are not always completely deployed. Secondly, there is high proportion of rejection of the applied projects (e.g. only up to 30% of the applications met the conditions of excellence in the EIC Accelerator in 2020). This is due to, a) less number of good ventures applying and b) more number of not-so-good ventures applying.
This information asymmetry is partly addressed by navigators who help the information reach the right target audience and accelerators who prepare the ventures to get them ready for the application. The EU should expand its investment on such navigators and accelerators so that more of the available funds gets deployed. GIG’s GT4SME is one such small initiative.