Horizon 2020
The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

Fast Track to Innovation Pilot

The Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) pilot is a fully-bottom-up measure in Horizon 2020 to promote close-to-the-market innovation activities, and open to all types of participants.

The Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) pilot provides funding for bottom-up proposals for close-to-market innovation activities in any area of technology or application. This thematic openness – combined with the possibility for all kinds of innovation actors to work together and deliver innovation onto the market and/or into society – should nurture trans-disciplinary and cross-sectoral cooperation.
The aim is to:

  • reduce time from idea to market,
  • stimulate the participation of first-time applicants to EU research and innovation funding, and
  • increase private sector investment in research and innovation.

Who can participate in the FTI Pilot?

Proposals for funding must be submitted by consortia comprising between three and five legal entities established in at least three different EU Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020. Actions funded under the pilot are to be ‘business-driven’ because they are intended to give promising innovation ideas the last push before entering the market. Therefore, substantial industry involvement in FTI actions is mandatory to ensure quick market take-up (‘quick’ meaning within a three-year period after the start of the FTI-action). This industry involvement implies:

  • either the allocation of at least 60% of the budget to industry participants in the consortium,
  • or the presence of a minimum number of two industry participants in a consortium of three or four partners, or of three industry participants in a consortium of five partners.

How is the FTI pilot being implemented?

The FTI Pilot is implemented in 2015 and 2016 with a total budget of €200 million (€100 million per year) across the Horizon 2020 priority “Societal Challenges” and the specific objective “Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEITs)”, without further topical restrictions. The pilot is implemented through one common and continuously open call, meaning that proposals can be submitted at any time. Proposals are evaluated and ranked and funding decisions taken after three cut-off dates each year.

Proposals should build on a business plan, and focus foremost on achieving high impact (corresponding to a score of minimum 4 out of 5 during evaluation). As for proposals for other Horizon 2020 innovation actions, “excellence” and “implementation” is also assessed, yet only if the minimum threshold for “impact” is achieved. Other factors playing a role during the evaluation process will be the size of the budget allocated to industry participants (especially SMEs), the number of industry participants and gender balance of the staff representing the consortium in the proposal.

Time-to-grant for participants is targeted to be six months at most. As for other innovation actions, EU funding levels are fixed at 70% of the eligible costs. The indicative EU contribution per action was expected to be between €1 million and €2 million, but, in justified cases, EU contributions of up to €3 million are considered.

When has the FTI pilot been launched and how competitive is it to get funding?

The Fast Track to Innovation scheme is open for applications since January 6, 2015. Proposals can be submitted at any time, yet are ranked following three cut-off dates in 2015: April 29, September 1 and December 1. The three cut-off dates for 2016 are 15 March, 1 June and 25 October.  

On average, there are about 300 proposals per cut-off date. Around 5% (15 proposals) per cut-off date have been selected for funding. The majority of the proposals selected for funding at the 2016 cut-off dates were resubmissions.

What happens to the FTI pilot after 2016?

Continuation of the Fast Track to Innovation beyond 2016 will depend on the results of an in-depth evaluation of the pilot scheme.

More Information

Please have a look the slideshow that was presented at the FTI Pilot launch event and/or watch the video of this event, which was held on 9 January, 2015. The FTI pilot is implemented by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, which on its website features a specific page on this initiative.

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