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Programme

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Help start-ups and spin-offs to gain access to finance

Explore and quantify the needs of start-ups and spin-offs in the bio-based sector for specific financial and business advice. Explore also the feasibility of meeting these needs by an interactive platform or any other adequate system.

Proposals must develop and validate a methodology to qualify and quantify the needs of start-ups and spin-offs. On this basis, proposals must evaluate the interest of the spin-offs and start-ups to interact with potential partners and investors. And similarly, proposals must evaluate the interest of expert companies, organisations and investors to interact with start-ups and spin-offs.

Proposals must show that the envisaged platform or system will bring start-ups and spin-offs in contact with potential partners across networks and with a large geographical reach. Proposals should build on completed and running projects, such as networks of pilot plants [2] or other projects designed to facilitate access to financing.

Proposals must connect with all available financing instruments on a European level, including relevant regional instruments. Proposals must also describe how they plan to complement the ongoing activities of bodies such as the European Innovation Council, the Circular Bioeconomy Investment Platform, and the Enterprise Europe Network.

Proposals must also connect with the finance platform currently being designed by BIC and to be launched by the end of 2019. The new BIC platform will aim in particular to help SMEs obtain financing for scaling up the commercialisation of bio-based technologies and products on a pilot scale.

The scope of this topic includes all start-ups and spin-offs in the bio-based sector, and is not limited to BIC members or activities, nor is it limited to spin-offs or start-ups resulting from BBI JU projects. In order to consider also actors in the primary sectors, it is recommended to foster the role of advisors and innovation brokers to support (‘speak on behalf of’) these actors during the project implementation.

Proposals must therefore be based on a feasible business model to create and sustain it for at least 10 years after the end of the project. The model must include estimates of costs for setting up, launching and — particularly — maintaining and updating the platform in the abovementioned period beyond the project’s runtime.

Participation is encouraged from organisations that have previously managed entrepreneurship programmes targeting start-ups and spin-offs.

Indicative funding:

It is considered that proposals requesting a maximum of EUR 1.5 million and for a planned duration of not more than 3 years would be able to address this specific challenge appropriately. However, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts or for other durations.

[2] Pilots4U, project financed under BBI-2019.SO4.S4 – Empower SME clusters to bring SMEs ‘across the valley of death.

Start-ups and spin-offs, both young, innovative and entrepreneurial, often face big hurdles in attracting investors, or using financial instruments to help finance their business plans. They find it especially challenging in bio-based industries, as the hurdles to success are high, and investors find it more difficult to judge the associated risks. These risks are different compared with more familiar sectors like e.g. the digital sector. Entrepreneurs in the bio-based industry must cross extra hurdles to attract investors and become independent as soon as possible.

One of the ways to overcome these hurdles is by seeking out networking opportunities through suitable organisations, clusters [1] and platforms. These opportunities can bring start-ups and spin-offs into contact with large enterprises, regional clusters, open-innovation scale-up facilities, reference customers and other market actors. This will make start-ups and spin-offs more visible, allowing them to secure financing from the contacts them made.

The specific challenge is to help start-ups and spin-offs to improve their networking activities with relevant stakeholders and help to improve their business case and to gain access to funding opportunities in the bio-based sector.

[1] For example, see the European Cluster Observatory — this single access point may facilitate matches and possibly lead to new funding opportunities.

EXPECTED IMPACTS:

  • increase the success rate of excellent start-ups and spin-offs;
  • improve the alignment of available financing/funding instruments with the demand of start-ups and spin-offs for financial assistance;
  • accelerate the market entrance of new technologies, processes, products and applications for expanding the bio-based industry across Europe.

NUMBER OF PROJECTS: a maximum of one project will be funded under this topic.

EXPECTED DURATION: up to 3 years.

TYPE OF ACTION: Coordination and support action.