EIT RawMaterials launches an extra call for innovative startups and SMES affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The companies may obtain a grant of up to 200,000 euro
Applicants must be active in the field of raw materials and the project must be at least lab-validated.
Companies must have a well-developed technological and business aspects of the enterprise. They should be able to answer three questions: what are you selling? to whom? for what price?
InnovateCEE: EIT RawMaterials launches a Booster Call for companies in response to the COVID-19 crisis. What is the call?
Krzysztof Kubacki: It is an extraordinary call. Every year in EIT RawMaterials we allocate money to support entrepreneurs. However this year, due to an unprecedented situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, our financing institution, EIT, has allocated 60 million euro to help companies. This is why we have offered additional money to help startups and small and medium-sized companies that are innovative and have found themselves in a difficult situation due to the pandemic.
Specifically, what kind of companies may apply for support?
First of all, they must be companies operating in the same field as EIT RawMaterials, i.e. in the field of metallic and mineral resources. What we are talking about here is the entire value chain of this sector, from exploration and evaluation of resources, their extraction and processing, recycling of raw materials, their substitution, substitution of harmful or critical materials, to the entire economy in a closed raw material cycle. Startups, scaleups as well as small and medium-sized enterprises can apply. Most importantly, the company must have a project at least level 4 of TRL, which means that the idea has been tested and validated in laboratory environment.
What does it mean that the companies must be affected by the pandemic?
This call is directed in two directions. On the one hand,it is for companies that have been affected by the pandemic, in the broad sense. For example, a company was running R&D activities and had to stop them due to the pandemic, either to lay off the employees, or research resources ran out, etc. In that case the funds we offer can be utilized to pay for that.
On the other hand, we want to offer our support so that companies can prepare for the aftermath of the pandemic when they will have to make their way in the new world. Probably many of these companies will have to reorient themselves in the market, maybe they will have to find new customers or offer new products. Our resources are also intended for such activities.
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What support can be obtained?
We offer grants of up to 200,000 euros. For this type of calls, we require a share in the future income from the idea that has received funding. So for the applicant, the risk comes down to the fact that if their project is successful and its implementation generates revenue, we would like to participate in the success. We do not obtain capital shares or other instruments of this type.
The selection process itself is simple. A company submits an application comprising up to 7 pages. The first stage of selection consists of us inviting the selected entrepreneurs to present thieir ideas in the form of a video conference. After that we make the final choice.
What are you looking at when evaluating applications?
First of all, we look at the idea itself: what good will it do to the raw materials sector, is it compatible with the objectives of EIT RawMaterials. Our goal is that the raw materials sector in Europe is a strong, modern sector that contributes to the European economy.
Then we look at the team: what kind of people are they, whether it includes members who have more than only strictly technological or strictly business skills. It is best that their abilities complement one another.
We also look at what goals are to be achieved by the project and what chances are there of introducing the project to the market.
What mistakes to avoid?
A common problem is a discrepancy between the technical and market aspects of the project. Startups focus on technical aspects of a given idea. Even if they try to look at the business side, it is rarely based on verification with potential customers.
This is connected with the second issue that we often see, that is the fact that teams are strong in the technical sfield, they know exactly what to do when talking about technology. But when we start asking them questions like: “what needs to be done to bring your product to the market?”, “how do you start selling?”, problems begin.
We also often see that people who apply to various programs have trouble defining what they want to do. They go into technical details, but they miss the quintessence of their applications, that is, what they offer, to whom and for how much. We have to fish for it ourselves, because such information is often included somewhere between the lines.
You need to approach it quite simply: what are you selling? to whom? For what price? And try to describe it to us.
Krzysztof Kubacki is a Innovation Hub Director CLC East, EIT RawMaterials. Before joining the EIT RawMaterials, he worked for 10 years in KGHM, one of the world’s largest copper and silver producers.