Blue economy call - questions and answers

This page contains the questions addressed to the functional mailbox and the answers provided, regarding the call for proposals "Blue Economy Call".
It is based on the rules and conditions contained in the legal documents relating to EASME/EMFF/2018/1.2.1.7 Call for proposals. 

 

To navigate the page: 
Questions with a generic nature that can be applied to all topics will be published in the "General questions" section; all the others will be reported in relation to the following three specific topics  (topic 1) – Blue Labs: innovative solutions for maritime challenges, (topic 2) – Blue Careers in Europe, (topic 3) – Grants for the Blue Economy: investing in innovation.
Please, click on the title you are interested in to look at questions relative to your specific topic.

 

General questions

1. I cannot find the proposal word templates (Part B) in the participant portal after starting a proposal. Where do I get the word templates? Can you provide them? 

Proposal word templates (Part B) can be downloaded as a package in the Project portal during the submission of Proposal (in the "Step 5").  Please note that Part B of the proposal must be filled out by the participants in WORD, assembled and uploaded as PDF in the PP Submission System (in the "Step 5"). Be aware that the Annex "Detailed budget table (annex 1 to the Technical Submission Template (Part B)" needs to be in an excel format.  

2. We have recently discovered the Blue Economy Call 2018, announced by the EMFF, and we are interested in topic 1 and 2 – Blue Labs and Blue Careers, in this context we would like to clarify some specifics related to the participation of organizations from the Russian Federation in this Call for Proposals. Is it correct to assume that organizations from the Russian Federation are eligible to take part in the Call of Proposals, but only as a member of the Consortium (while consortium coordinator has to be established only in an EU Member State)? Are there any other specific aspects related to eligibility of participants from the Russian Federation?

General eligibility conditions for participants (applicable to all 3 topics) state that applicants must be (iner alia) based in and EU Member State (including overseas countries and territories) or (for project with activities extending to neighbouring waters outside the territory of the EU) be established in one of the following eligible non-EU countries. Regarding the questions, for activities related to the Black Sea Synergy: applicant must be established in one of the following countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Therefore, Russia is eligible to take part in the call for proposals. 

For the topic 1 and topic 2, applications must be submitted by consortium complying with specific conditions (please see pages 20 – 21 of the call for proposal document). The consortium coordinator (or, for topic 3, the single applicant submitting the application) has to be established in an EU Member State, therefore entities established in Russia may participate as partners within the consortium, not as a consortium coordinators. 

There are no specific aspects related to eligibility of participants from Russia. Participants need to comply with rules and conditions settled in call for proposals document. 

We invite you to pay particular attention to themes & priorities, as well as activities that can be funded under the different topics. Please see the section 2 (Objectives – Themes & priorities – Activities that can be funded – Expected Results) in the call for proposals document. Please note that proposals must relate to activities concerning one of the following sea basins/areas: North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea basins as well as the EU Outermost regions marine areas. Activities should normally relate to the EU waters, but may extend into neighbouring waters, if this is necessary for the implementation of the project (in view of its nature and its objectives).

3.  We read with great interest the Blue Economy call for proposals. We would like to ask for clarification from you as we realised that the overseas countries and territories of the EU (OCTs) are eligible to this call. Indeed, the EMFF is one of the five ESI Funds to which the OCTs are not eligible. Can you please explain us why this is no longer the case?

The Council Decision 2013/755/EU (the ‘Overseas Association Decision’) allows for the eligibility for participation of OCT entities in Union programmes according to  the  rules  and  objectives of  the  respective programme  (see Article  94 of the above Decision). The EMFF Regulation is directly applicable to Union Member States and by derogation to operations carried out outside their territory (see Articles 7(2), 81 and 84 of the EMFF Regulation with respect to Union actions financed under direct management). 

The current Blue Economy call (EMFF-2018-1.2.1.7) is an action funded under direct management, hence the aforementioned eligibility rules apply and OCT entities have been included in the current call as eligible as long as they meet all eligibility conditions (general and specific) stipulated in the call.


4. I am contacting you as I would like to have a clarification about the geographical scope proposals should have. In the call text, it is mentioned that  “proposals must relate to activities concerning one of the following basin areas etc”. Does it mean that a project should cover at least one of these basin areas and that is it possible to cover several basin areas in a same project ? Or does it mean that a project can focus on only one basin area?

The call section on geographical scope is applicable to the 3 topics. The text on the geographical scope  (see page 21 of the call for proposals document) states that “Proposals must relate to activities concerning one of the following sea basins/areas: North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea basins as well as the EU Outermost regions marine areas. Proposals can focus on a part/sub-region of these sea basins/areas.” The aim of this section -  defining the geographical scope of the call - is to exclude proposals which are out of geographical scope (thus ineligible). In this respect when a proposal relates to activities in none of the listed sea basins/marine areas, the proposal is out of geographical scope/ineligible; whereas when a proposal relates to any of the listed sea basins (one of the listed sea basins or even more than one), the proposal is within the geographical scope of the call. 

 

  • For topic 1, this is further developed: projects under topic 1 (Blue Labs : innovative solutions for maritime challenges) allows applicants to develop solutions that have to be tailored to specific problems or needs of one or more sea basins or sub-sea basin surrounding the EU coasts (e.g. Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Adriatic-Ionian Seas, Atlantic, North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea). For  details please see page 6 of the call for proposals document.
  • For topic 2, the general geographical scope in page 21 is applicable. However, please note that theme 3 on establishing industry-education networks at sea basin level (see page 11 of the call for proposals document), requires that projects applying to this theme have a sea basin focus. Therefore in this case, the specific nature of the theme  requires that one sea basin is chosen.
  • For topic 3, the general geographical scope in page 21 is applicable. 

 

For the three topics, the proposal would have to explain and justify why the proposal is covering one or more sea-basins related challenges and opportunities. This will be evaluated in the award criteria.


5. The Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute just completed our initial study and presented the results on "matching stakeholder needs with our VET programmes" working with island wide industry stakeholders and would like the opportunity to apply for this grant. under the subject captioned above. Is Trinidad and Tobago eligible?


The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago does not belong to 'outermost regions' or 'overseas territories’; it is also not a country with neighbouring waters to an EU territory (please see footnote 35 on page 19 of the call for proposals document), therefore it is not eligible for EMFF funding.

6. Question for completing and uploading the Budget (Annex1 to Part  B_Detailed Budget Table_EASME_MGA V5.0). According to the instructions, the sheets 3 and 4 of the budget spreadsheet should be completed by each beneficiary/linked third party. This implies that a separate budget spreadsheet should be completed by each beneficiary. The detailed budget table will then have to be uploaded in excel format in ‘Part B and annexes’ part of the proposal.  This allows only one excel file to be uploaded so how is it possible to upload the budget spreadsheets completed by each beneficiary? 
 
Please kindly note that there is a change as regards the uploading requirements of the Detailed budget table (annex 1 to the Proposal Template (Part B)): now it only needs to be uploaded in PDF (and not anymore in Excel). 
 
Please see below further instructions and some clarifications on the Detailed budget table. 
Further instructions and support for completing and uploading the Detailed budget table (annex 1 to the Proposal Template (Part B)): 
- Sheets 3 and 4 have to be completed by each beneficiary/linked third party in separate excel documents. Please note that in sheet 3 "Detailed budget table", section C "Costs of financial support to third parties" is NOT to be completed as financial support to third parties is not allowed in this call.
- The Coordinator should fill in sheet 5 manually after having all the information by the other Beneficiaries.
- Sheets 3 and 4 per beneficiary have to converted to PDF; For the coordinator, sheets 3, 4 and 5 have to be converted to PDF; Save the workbooks/tabs you want by choosing the "Options" when saving as PDF.
- Once each Excel is saved as a PDF, then combine into a single PDF document for upload. There are many online tools and free applications that you can use for this, including Adobe Acrobat and the Preview app on Apple Macs
- The Detailed budget table (annex 1) ONLY needs to be uploaded in PDF (and NOT anymore in Excel as required before). The guide for applicants document has been updated accordingly (p. 11)
 
7. I would like to receive information about the eligibility conditions.  One of our partner comes from Algeria, he will be involved for his research studies and findings in the topic related to our proposal, but the project activities will not be carried out outside the territory of the Union.  Could you clarify to us if the Algerian University is an eligible partner?
 
As it is stated in the call for proposals document (see page 19), in order to be eligible for a grant, the applicant must be (inter alia) established in an EU Member State (including OCTs) or for projects with activities extending to neighbouring waters outside the territory of the EU: be established in one of the eligible non-EU countries. 
In your case, Algeria is an eligible country for activities related to the Union for Mediterranean (including the Western Mediterranean Framework for Action). Thus, your partner, the Algerian university, could be eligible. However, to be eligible it has to meet the following additional criterion: the project should have activities taking place in the neighbouring waters outside of the EU, which is not the case of the university that you are mentioning.
 So, if the project activities are not to be carried out outside the territory of the EU, the university established in Algeria is not an eligible project partner.

8.  Regarding the on-line Administrative Forms, concerning the Abstract, it is indicated that “it should be identical to the abstract provided in Part B (maxx. 2.000 characters with spaces)”. The proposal template part B “Project Technical Description”, also indicates in the “Project summary” section the following sentence: “Please use the same text here and in Part A (Abstract).” However, since Project Summary in part B is composed of 3 parts: “Context & overall objectives”, “Work planned & main achievements” and “Results & impacts”, it is not clear to us if the summary of 2000 characters of part A should be the same as “Context & overall objectives” or on the contrary, should be the same as the 3 parts altogether.

In section 1 (Project Summary) of the proposal template document, it is stated that applicant should provide an overall description of the project ( including expected results, outcomes and outputs, activities, number and type of beneficiaries). Project summary includes three parts: Context & overall objectives; Work planned & main achievements and Results & impacts. 
Applicants are asked to use the same text in Part B (Project summary) of the proposal template document and in Part A (Abstract) of the online administrative forms. Therefore, the summary of 2000 characters of Part A should be identical to the Project summary of the Part B (all three above mentioned parts together).

9. We are a public, non-profit institution of higher education located in Israel.  Are our researchers eligible to apply?  To the Blue Economy Call for Projects?

General eligibility conditions for participants on page 19 of the call for proposals document (applicable to all 3 topics) state that applicants must be (inter alia) based in an EU Member State (including overseas countries and territories) or (for project with activities extending to neighbouring waters outside the territory of the EU) be established in one of the following eligible non-EU countries. Regarding the question, for activities related to the Union for the Mediterranean (including the Western Mediterranean Framework for Action): applicant must be established in one of the following countries - Algeria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey. Therefore, Israel is eligible to take part in the call for proposals.

Please note that for the topic 1 and topic 2, applications must be submitted by consortium complying with specific conditions (please see pages 20 – 21 of the call for proposal document). The consortium coordinator (or, for topic 3, the single applicant submitting the application) has to be established in an EU Member State, therefore entities established in Israel may participate as partners within the consortium, not as a consortium coordinators. 
Please also note that special  rules may apply for entities from certain countries (e.g. countries covered by Council sanctions, entities covered by Commission Guidelines No 2013/C 205/05). Please see the footnote 36 on page 19, which includes information on  the Commission Guidelines No 2013/C 205/05 on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.

10.  I am filling the template (Part B) for the call on Blue Economy. I would like to know if preparing my proposal I can delete the explanations and notes made in the Template to explain how to fill it, or if I should keep it as it is. Also I would like to know If I can widen the table to the limits of 15 mm margin (left and right) that are described in the third page “IMPORTANT NOTICE”. May I also delete the first 2 pages (titles)?

As it is stated in the important notice on page 3 of the proposal template document, please abide by the formatting rules. Please note at the end of the “IMPORTANT NOTICE” box in the third page it says “Don’t forget to delete this page (it would count to your page limit)”. So you can delete this page. The first 2 pages of the template (part B) can also be deleted. 
Regarding the margins (top, bottom, left and right) there is a condition of at least 15 mm (not including headers & footers), therefore you can widen the table to this limit.

11. Could you kindly let me know, if it is allowed to add figures, pictures, graphs or tables in the Project Technical Description (Part B), delete the explanations in the boxes of Project Technical Description (Part B)?

It is not allowed to delete instructions, explanation texts must remain in the proposal template document (Part B).  Please note that it is allowed to add figures, pictures, graphs or tables as long as you respect the page limit and the formatting rules.

12. As per explained on page 27 of the Call for proposal (Blue economy call - EMFF work programme 2018), paragraph 7, it is explained that: "for applicants requesting more than EUR 750 000: audit report produced by an approved external auditor, certifying the accounts for the last closed financial year". Could you please clarify if the external auditor has to be approved by the EU or if we can ask the audit report from any French accounting firm? In case our accounts has to be certified by an auditor approved by the EU, please send me the list of approved auditors as soon as possible. 

External auditor does not have to be approved by the EASME. If you are, as a participant, requesting an EU contribution for action grant of more than 750 000 EUR you are obliged to provide an audit report issued by an approved/certified external auditor. 

The audit report must (inter alia) include:  

  • the clear mandate and scope of the audit 
  • the responsibilities of the management and the auditor  
  • the way in which the audit is carried out  
  • the auditor’s opinion, including a reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free of material misstatement.

For more information, see Rules on Legal Entity Validation, LEAR Appointment and Financial Capacity Assessment.

13. Regarding the on-line Administrative Forms, concerning the Abstract, it is indicated that “it should be identical to the abstract provided in Part B (Max. 2.000 characters with spaces)”.
The proposal template part B “Project Technical Description”, also indicates in the “Project summary” section the following sentence: “Please use the same text here and in Part A (Abstract).”
However, since Project Summary in part B is composed of 3 parts: “Context & overall objectives”, “Work planned & main achievements” and “Results & impacts”, it is not clear to us if the summary of 2000 characters of part A should be the same as “Context & overall objectives” or on the contrary, should be the same as the 3 parts altogether.
 
In section 1 (Project Summary) of the proposal template document, it is stated that applicant should provide an overall description of the project (including expected results, outcomes and outputs, activities, number and type of beneficiaries). Project summary includes three parts: Context & overall objectives; Work planned & main achievements and Results & impacts. Applicants are asked to use the same text in Part B (Project summary) of the proposal template document and in Part A (Abstract) of the online administrative forms. Therefore, the summary of 2000 characters of Part A should be identical to the Project summary of the Part B (all three above mentioned parts together).
 
14. As per explained on page 27 of the Call for proposal (Blue economy call - EMFF work programme 2018), paragraph 7, it is explained that : "for applicants requesting more than EUR 750 000: audit report produced by an approved external auditor, certifying the accounts for the last closed financial year". Could you please clarify if the external auditor has to be approved by the EU or if we can ask the audit report from any French accounting firm?
 
External auditor does not have to be approved by the EASME. If you are, as a participant, requesting an EU contribution for action grant of more than 750 000 EUR you are obliged to provide an audit report issued by an approved/certified external auditor. 
 
The audit report must (inter alia) include:  
- the clear mandate and scope of the audit 
- the responsibilities of the management and the auditor  
- the way in which the audit is carried out  
- the auditor’s opinion, including a reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free of material misstatement.
 
 
15. We are a public, non-profit institution of higher education located in Israel.  Are our researchers eligible to apply?  To the Blue Economy Call for Projects?
 
General eligibility conditions for participants on page 19 of the call for proposals document (applicable to all 3 topics) state that applicants must be (iner alia) based in an EU Member State (including overseas countries and territories) or (for project with activities extending to neighbouring waters outside the territory of the EU) be established in one of the following eligible non-EU countries. Regarding the question, for activities related to the Union for the Mediterranean (including the Western Mediterranean Framework for Action): applicant must be established in one of the following countries - Algeria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey. Therefore, Israel is eligible to take part in the call for proposals.
 
Please note that for the topic 1 and topic 2, applications must be submitted by consortium complying with specific conditions (please see pages 20 – 21 of the call for proposal document). The consortium coordinator (or, for topic 3, the single applicant submitting the application) has to be established in an EU Member State, therefore entities established in Israel may participate as partners within the consortium, not as a consortium coordinators. 
 
Please also note that special rules may apply for entities from certain countries (e.g. countries covered by Council sanctions, entities covered by Commission Guidelines No 2013/C 205/05). Please see the footnote 36 on page 19, which includes information on  the Commission Guidelines No 2013/C 205/05 on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.
 
16. I am filling the template (Part B) for the call on Blue Economy. I would like to know if preparing my proposal I can delete the explanations and notes made in the Template to explain how to fill it, or if I should keep it as it is. Also I would like to know If I can widen the table to the limits of 15 mm margin (left and right) that are described in the third page “IMPORTANT NOTICE”. May I also delete the first 2 pages (titles)? 
 
As it is stated in the important notice on page 3 of the proposal template document, please abide by the formatting rules. Please note at the end of the “IMPORTANT NOTICE” box in the third page it says “Don’t forget to delete this page (it would count to your page limit)”. So you can delete this page. The first 2 pages of the template (part B) can also be deleted. Regarding the margins (top, bottom, left and right) there is a condition of at least 15 mm (not including headers & footers), therefore you can widen the table to this limit.
 
17. We have a couple of questions about the forms to be delivered. Regarding the “Proposal Template” to submit, that includes Part A and B, the call indicates that the page limit is 45. In this proposal we have to include the annex: Detailed budget table (annex 1 to Part B); Operational capacity fiche (annex 2 to Part B); EMFF Project Indicators table (annex 3 to Part B) as PDF`s within the proposal template.  Thus, the limit of 45 pages has to include this annex? The second question is related to the administrative forms. We are coordinating one proposal to the Blue Economy Call. The justification of Legal entity validation, Official VAT document, Status validation, the financial capacity check (profit and loss accounts, etc)… of each partner of the consortium have to be uploaded by each partner during the registration in the Participant Register, isn’t it? So during the proposal submit process this documents won’t be required?
 
Regarding the first question, annexes of the proposal are not part of the page limit 45 of part B form. Regarding the second question, please note that as stated in the call document and accompanying guide for applicants:
- Call document (section 7 – Other conditions, p. 30): "All applicants must register in the Participant Register — before the call deadline — and upload the necessary documents showing legal status and origin. Linked third parties can register later (during grant preparation)"
- Guide for applicants (section 5 – how to submit your proposal, p. 6): "To complete part A, all applicants must be registered in the Participant Register and have communicated their PIC to the coordinator. Linked third parties must also register, but later on during grant preparation. Subcontractors and in-kind contributors do NOT need to register."
 
As stated on page 28 of the call document, for more  information, see Rules on Legal Entity Validation, LEAR Appointment and Financial Capacity Assessment
Please also see question 20 of the general EMFF FAQs, which states that "For calls published through eGrants, the financial data required for the financial capacity check will be requested only to successful proposals invited to the grant agreement preparation phase."
 
Please see also section 8 (Evaluation & award procedure) of the call for proposals document. 
•         Unsuccessful applications will be informed about their evaluation result (see timetable section 4). 
•         Successful applications will be invited for grant agreement preparation. Please note that invitation to grant preparation does NOT constitute a formal commitment for funding. We will still need to make various legal checks before grant award: legal entity validation, financial capacity, exclusion check etc. 
 
18. Could you kindly let me know, if it is allowed to: Add figures, pictures, graphs or tables in the Project Technical Description (Part B)? Delete the explanations in the boxes of Project Technical Description (Part B)?
 
It is not allowed to delete instructions, explanation texts must remain in the proposal template document (Part B). Please note that it is allowed to add figures, pictures, graphs or tables as long as you respect the page limit and the formatting rules.
 
19. Since it looks like EMFF is organised under EASME, I expect that it can only be SME's who apply? Or can companies of any size apply? 
 
Answer to the question is already available here, in the FAQ section number 1 under the “Topic 3 | Grants for Blue Economy”.
 
20. Did I understand correctly, that we are not allowed to delete the yellow marked text in the attached screen shot (template for WPs/ milestones & deliverables section)? Furthermore, we have to repeat this header plus explanations for every work package.  Could you kindly let me know, if we are allowed to use a smaller font size (if only for the explanations)?
 
Regarding your first question on deleting instructions in WP (while copying the WP2), it is not allowed to delete instructions, explanation texts (in grey) must remain in the proposal template document (Part B), even if you are copying WPs. Please abide by the formatting rules. Do not change a font size in the instruction part. 
 
As it is stated in project technical description document (Part B, page 3), please keep your text as concise as possible. Do not use hyperlinks to show information that is an essential part of your project. We would invite you to pay particular attention to the Guide for Applicants, section 5.2 How to fill out your application. Make sure that it is clear and concise — don't interpret completeness as a requirement to include as much information (and words) as possible. Your proposal must also be easy to understand, precise and focused on substance. Respect the page limit. Do not repeat information.
 
21. In regards to the Grant Agreement / Declaration of Honour, we would like to ask you for a clarification. In the call document, it stated that:
The coordinator represents the consortium towards the EU. You must have agreement of the other members and their mandate to act on their behalf and will have to confirm this in your application.
Moreover you will have to declare that the information in the proposal is correct and complete and that all participants comply with the conditions for receiving funding (especially, eligibility, financial and operational capacity, no exclusion, etc.) and have agreed to participate. Before signing the grant agreement, each participant will have to confirm this again by signing a declaration of honour (DoH). Proposals without full support will be rejected.
We understand that the Grant Agreement itself will only be signed in case of project funding. But in regards to the DoH (Declaration of Honour), does it follow the same principle? In other words, will it only have to be signed in case of project funding?
 
Only when the project is selected for funding, applicants will be asked to sign a grant agreement with EASME (please see section 9 - Legal & financial set-up of the grants in the call for proposals document). 
In the section Administrative Forms in Participant Portal Electronic Submission System, there is a section 1: General Information where applicants are asked to answer following three question (replies need to be ticked).   
1) The coordinator declares that the information contained in this proposal is correct and complete
2) The coordinator confirms:
- to have carried out the self-check of the financial capacity of the organisation (when applicable)* on https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/organisatio.... Where the result was weak or insufficient, the coordinator confirms that the applicants are aware of the measures that may be imposed in accordance with the Call for proposals' documents; and
- to have explicit consent of all partners - including the coordination organisation - on their participation and the content of this proposal.
 
3) The coordinator confirms that:
- all partners in the proposal are fully eligible in accordance with the exclusion and eligibility criteria set out in the specific call for proposals; and
- that no partners are in one of the situations referred to Article 106(1) and Art 107, 108, 109 of the Regulation (EU, Euratom) N° 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union.
- all have the financial and operational capacity to carry out the proposed action; and in particular
- have the professional resources, competences and qualifications required to complete the proposed action
 
These declarations can be filled in by any coordinator contact(s). Failing to reply to question 1 will block the submission. Question 2 is mandatory. For question 3 all replies have to be ticked in order to have a completed set of declarations.  Please note that if the proposal is to be retained for EU funding, the applicant organisation(s) will be required to present a formal declaration in this respect. To answer to the question, formal declaration will be required in case of project funding. 
 
22. Can we use pictures, graphs, etc. within the attached proposal template? Off course, mostly these pictures etc. don’t use text with Arial and fond size 8 points; that is no problem I assume then? The template says supporting documents can be provided. What kind of documents can we think of? We are ourselves thinking about Letters of Intent of important stakeholders. Are these allowed?
 
Answer to the first question is already available here, in the FAQ section number 11 under the “General questions”. Regarding the second question, for the three topics – topic 1 Blue Labs; topic 2 Blue Careers and topic 3 Grants for the Blue Economy  – the following documents need to be uploaded in the Participant Portal Electronic Submission System:
a.       Technical Submission Template (part B)
b.       Detailed budget table (annex 1 to the Technical Submission Template (part B))
c.       Operational capacity fiche (annex 2 to the Technical Submission Template (part B)) 
d.       EMFF project indicators table (annex 3 to the Technical Submission Template (part B)
 
Besides, for topic 3 – Grants for the Blue Economy –another  annex that can be uploaded (not mandatory) is Letters of intent of investors. If letters of intent are included (in the Participant Portal Electronic Submission System), please upload them as a single PDF file. Reference to the letters of intent is included, under section Themes & priorities of the call for proposals document (page 15 of the call for proposals document on topic 3): 
To promote the involvement of third-party investment, in particular by private financing bodies or National Promotional Banks (NPBs), priority will be given to proposals that are at a sufficiently advanced stage in terms of securing financing from third party investors, e.g. as demonstrated by, for instance, a letter of intent by an investor to support the project”. 
For more information about submission, please see section 10 (How to submit an application?) of the call for proposals document
 
23. Must all applicants have a “EU Login” ? The documents to be attached to the online application are 4: DoA Description of the action; Detailed budget table  3 and 4 for each applicant and sheets 3, 4 and 5 by the coordinator (join in one pdf); Operational capacity fiche – 1 fiche for each applicant including the coordinator; EMFF project indicators table – 1 table for the whole project. Do you confirm that the above 4 documents must not be signed. Do you confirm that no other documents are needed (e.g. Letters of intent).
 
To obtain a PIC that is necessary for adding partners in your application you will have to open an EU login account. Following documents need to be uploaded in the Participant Portal Electronic Submission System:
a. Technical Submission Template (part B)
b. Detailed budget table (annex 1 to the Technical Submission Template (part B))
- Please information about uploading requirements of the Detailed budget table is already in FAQ in the section General questions (question number 6). 
c. Operational capacity fiche (annex 2 to the Technical Submission Template (part B)) 
- Description of previous activities or projects by all applicants related to the field of the topic and connected to the subject of the proposal in the last 3 years
- Description of technical equipment/tools/facilities/patents (where appropriate) 
- merge documents in a single pdf file 
d. EMFF project indicators table (annex 3 to the Technical Submission Template (part B)
- Covering the whole project proposal (upload as pdf file) 
 
Documents don’t need to be signed. Regarding the question on Letter of intent of investors, this document is not mandatory.
 

Topic 1 | Blue Labs

1. Our proposal is a continuation of EU Project XXX, dealing with XXX. It fits perfectly well with all requirements, but doesn't match the priorities. Would that be eligible, or should we better abandon? 

We are working on a proposal which adapts very well to the "Blue Lab" concept, but the main theme is not included in the list of five priorities (p.7). However, it is said that 6 proposals will be chosen, at least one for each of the 5 themes. Does this mean that projects revolving around other issues could be eligible for that 6th undetermined grant? Or does it mean that that two projects will be chosen for one of those 5 subjects, and all other themes will be discarded?

Applicants must select one of the specific themes per proposal, according to the topic. Topic 1 – Blue Labs has five specific themes and EASME intends to fund at least one (could be more) for each of the themes mentioned in section 2 (Objectives - Themes & priorities — Activities that can be funded — Expected Results) of the call for proposals document. 

Please note that admissible and eligible applications will be evaluated and ranked against of the award criteria. Regarding the question, we invite you to pay particular attention to the criteria - 1. Relevance and added value (please see the section 6. Award Criteria of the call for proposals) that describes ranking based on the relevance of the project and its objectives to the topic and extent to which it matches the themes and priorities of the topic. 

Regarding the project proposal, please note that EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals).

2. We are drawing up a bid for the Blue labs strand (under topic 4 or 5), but I had a few queries relating to eligible spend, eligible partners and also a clarification regarding the blue economy strand as well.  For the Blue economy strand – can you confirm that it is limited to certain sea basins (e.g. the Atlantic is not eligible?)  For the Blue Labs strand –  Is the European Marine Biological Resource Centre deemed an ‘EU body’ and therefore not an eligible partner?  Can the call support facilities (e.g. developing a xxx as a tangible outcome)?

We kindly inform you that the answer to your first question is already available in the FAQ section number 4 under the “General question” on the geographical scope of the project proposals. 
Regarding questions on the topic Blue Labs, European Marine Biological Resource Centre is not an EU body, therefore the entity could be eligible (as long as the entity meets other eligibility conditions – see section 5 “Eligibility conditions” of the call for proposals document). Please note also that EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals). For the cost eligibility rules, see the model grant agreement (art. 6) and the Guide for applicants

3. Regarding specific theme: "3. Innovative marina and leisure boat design: e.g. development of technological solutions/products and services for marinas to adapt to changing demand from customers (e.g. access to marinas and boats for an ageing population; ICT-oriented requirements from young people) and/or address environmental challenges (e.g. safe dismantling and recycling of leisure boats);" I would like to know your understanding of “leisure boat design”: do you refer only to private small boats for family/private use, or is it possible to consider as leisure boat a boat for transporting commuters and/or tourists along the coastline? (commercial use). Would be a marina adapted to this novel boats within the scope of this theme as well?

There is no specific limitation of the « leisure boat design «  definition, as long as it is justified and linked with the project objectives and the objectives of the topic. The proposals submitted under this topic (Blue Labs) must develop (inter alia) specific elements: 
• solid partnerships between maritime stakeholders and fostering multidisciplinary approaches and combination of competences from businesses, the public sector and research bodies; 
• enhanced cooperation and coordination amongst maritime stakeholders at local, regional or even sea basin levels

A Blue Lab must be: 
• Result-oriented: resulting in a tangible deliverable, such as a premarketable service, product or prototype;
• Multidisciplinary: developed by involving businesses, researchers, young scientists (e.g. post-graduate students, recent post-graduates, other students) and, if relevant, other entities such as local authorities, NGOs etc.; and bringing different disciplines together into a common project idea development. 
• Stakeholder driven: being designed and implemented in cooperation with at least one private partner and in consultation with a group of relevant partners (e.g. research bodies, businesses and local authorities).
Regarding your question on eligibility of the adapted marina, please note that EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals).  Please see pages 8 – 9 of the call for proposals document, section Activities that can be funded and Expected results.
 

4. We are contacting you because there’s a XXX coordinating  a proposal for the BLUE-LABs 2019 call and a doubt regarding the participation of Norwegian partners have arisen to us. Could the Norwegian partners participate at any proposal within this call or is there an specific rule or requirement to be eligible for these groups?

General eligibility conditions for participants (applicable to all 3 topics) state that applicants must be (inter alia) based in and EU Member State (including overseas countries and territories) or (for project with activities extending to neighbouring waters outside the territory of the EU) be established in one of the following eligible non-EU countries. Regarding the question, for activities related to the EU Baltic Sea Strategy: Belarus, Iceland, Norway and Russia. Therefore, Norway is eligible to take part in the call for proposals. 
For the topic 1 – Blue Labs (and topic 2), applications must be submitted by consortium complying with specific conditions (please see pages 20 – 21 of the call for proposal document). The consortium coordinator (or, for topic 3, the single applicant submitting the application) has to be established in an EU Member State, therefore entities established in Norway may participate as partners within the consortium, not as a consortium coordinators.

Topic 2 | Blue Careers in Europe

1. Regarding Topic 2: Blue Careers of the EMFF Blue Economy call 2018 - can you please confirm that a business association is considered a business entity and therefore is eligible to apply as the consortium coordinator?

For the eligibility of participants, please see section 5 (Eligibility conditions) of the call for proposals document that includes general eligibility conditions for participants (applicable to all 3 topics) and specific eligibility conditions for participants per topic.  

Regarding the specific question, a business association is considered a business entity and as such is eligible to apply as the consortium coordinator. 

2. Topic 2: Blue Careers - The consortium must comprise "Minimum two legal entities from two different countries" so, in the case of an Italian Business Association as coordinator, the partner- educational organization (university) must be from another EU Country, correct? Therefore, in the case of a consortium created by an Italian Business Association as coordinator and several (4) partners such as 2 universities (one Italian and one Portuguese) and 2 business association (from Spain and from Portugal), the eligibility of the consortium is assured, correct?

For topic 2 – Blue Careers, the applications must be submitted by a consortium complying with the following condition:  

  • Minimum two legal entities from two different countries. One of these must act as the consortium coordinator, while the others will act as partners.  

In case of a consortium consisting of two entities, they have to be established in two different countries. Please note that the consortium coordinator (or, for Topic 3, the single applicant submitting the application) has to be established in an EU Members State. Other project partners (in order to be eligible for a grant), must be established in EU Members State (including overseas countries and territories) or (for project with activities extending to neighbouring waters outside the territory of the EU) be established in one of the eligible non-EU countries (for more details, see pages 19 – 20 of the call for proposals document). 

Regarding the question on the eligibility of the consortium created by an Italian Business Association, eligibility of the consortium is assured if it complies with the general eligibility conditions and specific conditions for participants per topic (see section 5 of the call for proposals document). Please note that EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals).

3. Regarding the 20% (Topic 2: Blue Careers) that will not be funded. Such amount has to be covered and divided among the entire consortium and not only provided by the coordinator, right? So when you proceed with the financial capacity check, all the partners will be evaluated and contribute to define the financial capacity necessary for the project, right?

The answer to the question is already available in the FAQ section number 19 and 20 on co-financing rate and financial capacity. Please note that all project participants must have stable and sufficient resources to successfully implement the project and contribute their share. The financial capacity check will be done by EASME on the basis of the documents you will be requested to upload in the Participant Register. For more information please see section 7 (Other conditions) of the call for proposals document. 

4. During the info event last week, it was stated, that it is no longer a requirement for applicants to be part of a consortium. This woke our interest, as we are very much involved in developing students for a career within the maritime industry. But when I look at the Blue Careers topic on your website, it’s says: For topic 2 - Blue Careers (....applicants by single applicants are not allowed). Can you clarify, if this is just a criteria that hasn’t been updated on the website from last year’s call, or if we indeed still need a consortium, to apply for funding for our projects this year?

For the topic 2 – Blue Careers (and also topic 1 – Blue Labs) 

  • the application must be submitted by a consortium; 
  • applications by single applicants are NOT allowed.

These criteria does not apply on topic 3 – Grants for the Blue Economy: investing in innovation.

For the topic 3, the applications can be submitted by a consortium of partners OR a single applicant complying with other conditions (please see p. 21 of the call for proposals document) 

Please, for general eligibility conditions for participants (applicable to all 3 topics) see p. 19 - 20 of the call for proposals document. For specific eligibility conditions for participants (per topic), see p. 20 – 21.  

5. We are contacting you regarding an issue related to the Blue Careers Grant. As Jordan is listed eligible under the eligible countries but every time we try to apply for this grant a message keeps popping up and saying that Jordan is not eligible for this grant.  Can you please clarify if the country (Jordan) that we are applying from is eligible or not?

As stated in the text of the Call for proposals (p. 20), for Topic 2 – Blue Careers: the applications must be submitted by a consortium complying with the (inter alia) following condition: 

  • minimum two legal entities from two different countries. One of these must act as the consortium coordinator, while the others will act as partners. (Applicants by single applicants are not allowed). 

If you are applying as a coordinator, please note that the consortium coordinator (or, for Topic 3, the single applicants submitting the applications) has to be established in an EU Member State (see page 20 of the call for proposals document).  If you are a project partner, please let us know and we will get back to you as soon as possible and check if there is an IT issue in the system.

6. We would like to apply for the topic 2 EMFF 02-2018 Blue Careers in Europe for the theme 02 "Collaboration frameworks between industry and education". Must the proposal be developed at a sea basin level (for example only east Mediterranean) or is it possible to include two sea basin levels? (for example Baltic sea and Mediterranean sea)? In the case that the proposal must include just one sea basin level, can the partner's consortium be located in different sea basin levels but the proposal be addressed just to a specific sea basin level?

We kindly inform you that the answer to the question is already available in the FAQ section number 4 under the “General question” on the geographical scope of the project proposals.

Topic 3 | Grants for Blue Economy 

1. I am writing to ask a question concerning the EMFF-2018-1.2.1.7 and in particular   EMFF-03-2018 – Grants for the Blue Economy: investing in innovation. Is the call open to SMEs only or can large enterprises participate?

There are no specific limitations for the size of applicants (as single applicants or members of consortia) as long as it is justified and linked with the project objectives and the objectives of the topic. 

For Topic 3 – Grants for the Blue Economy: investing in innovation, the applications can be submitted by a consortium or partners or a single applicant.  Please note that for Topic 3: "the eligibility requirements” (either for single applicants or for consortia) is that the business partner is a business partner in the sense of a profit making legal entity. For eligibility conditions for participants and specific eligibility conditions for participants per topics, please see the section 5 (Eligibility conditions) of the call for proposals document.

 

2. Our company is based in Latvia and we are developing XXX. We would be interested to participate in the Blue Economy project and, possibly, receive an investment for our innovation in order to be able to develop the technology. Considering the previously mentioned, we thought whether such innovation would fall among the criteria of Blue Economy project and whether we would be able to apply for the program?

Please note that EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals). 

The applicant has to follow requirements settled in section 2 – Objectives — Themes & priorities — Activities that can be funded — Expected Results in the text of the call for proposals. We invite you to pay particular attention to pages 13 – 17 of the call for proposals describing more in details requirements for EMFF-03-2018 – Grants for the Blue Economy: investing in innovation. In addition please read the eligibility conditions and the award criteria, in sections 5 & 6,  which are different for the three topics. 

 

3. Call EMFF-03-2018 (Blue Economy) - We kindly ask if the Countries on the Caribbean Sea could be eligible to participate and in our case is Jamaica eligible?

Please see question 7 " Which countries are eligible? Are there any specific requirements for entities established in non-EU countries?", in Section II. of the general FAQs on EMFF calls.

Moreover, as stated in the text of the Call for proposals, in order to be eligible for a grant, the applicants must (inter alia), be established in an EU Member State including overseas countries and territories (for more details see the page 19 of the document Call for proposals) or for projects with activities extending to neighbouring waters outside the territory of the EU – be established in one of the following eligible non-EU countries: 

  • for activities related to the EU Atlantic Sea Strategy: Canada and United States of America;
  • for activities related to the EU Baltic Sea Strategy: Belarus, Iceland, Norway and Russia;
  • for activities related to the Adriatic-Ionian Macro-regional Strategy: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia;
  • for activities related to the Union for the Mediterranean (including the Western Mediterranean Framework for Action): Algeria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey;
  • for activities related to the Black Sea Synergy: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine;
  • for activities related to the waters of an EU Outermost Region: the countries with neighbouring waters.

Please, note also that regarding geographical scope, for Topic 3 – Grants for the Blue Economy: investing in innovation, proposals must relate to activities concerning one of the following sea basins/areas: North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea basins as well as the EU Outermost regions marine areas. Activities should normally relate to the EU waters, but may extend into neighbouring waters, if this is necessary for the implementation of the project (in view of its nature and its objectives).

The Caribbean region includes 16 territories with direct links to EU member states (four French 'outermost regions'; and 12 'overseas territories'– five British, six Dutch and one French territory). Jamaica does not belong to 'outermost regions' or 'overseas territories’; it is also not a country with neighbouring waters to an EU territory (please see footnote 35 on page 19*) , therefore it is not eligible for EMFF funding. 

*Neighbouring waters’ is to be understood in the geographical sense, e.g. countries with a common border of their territorial waters, contiguous zones or EEZ. They must be neighbouring waters to EU territory (i.e. not neighbouring waters to OCTs or other territories which are not part of the EU territory).

4. Regarding the call 'EMFF-03-2018: Blue economy' can you please clarify some points concerning the remaining part of the project budget not covered by the EU grant. According to FAQ:

  • the beneficiary's own resources;
  • income generated by the action;
  • financial contributions from third parties.

Beneficiaries may also rely on in-kind contributions by third parties. If against payment, they can be charged as project costs; if for free, which is not prohibited, they will be cost-neutral (i.e. cannot be declared as project costs).  As regards the second point above, please note that EU grants may not have the purpose or effect of producing a profit within the framework of the action of the beneficiary. If the project generates income by itself, the corresponding profit will be recovered by EASME. Profit is defined as a surplus of the receipts over the total eligible costs incurred by the beneficiary when the request for payment of the balance is made (i.e. when the final report and financial statement are submitted to EASME)."

In practical terms in a project with a budget of 600k € if partner 1 has a cost/investment of 300k € can you please validate the following project allocation for partner 1:

  • EU grant 65% -> 195k €
  • Beneficiary contribution 35% -> 105k €

of which: 

  • own resources -> 25k € 
  • Invoiced Services -> 75k € 

In this particular case if the invoiced services are higher than 75k €, that surplus would be recovered by EASME, is that correct?

If by 'invoiced services' you refer to the income generated by the action, which is considered as a receipt to the action then it will be recovered by EASME only if the amount resulting from the total EU contribution received plus the amount of the receipt (EU Grant + Invoiced services) is higher than the beneficiary's total claimed costs during the payment for the balance. 

Using the example, we would say that if the EU Grant + Invoiced services are higher than 300k i.e total project costs of the beneficiary, then we will issue a recovery order up to the amount of the profit.

We would like to also invite you to pay particular attention to cost eligibility rules in section 9 (Legal & financial set-up of the grants) of the call for proposal document. For the cost eligibility rules, see the model grant agreement (art. 6) and the Guide for applicants. Please note that there are also specific cost eligibility rules (see pages 31 - 32 of the call for proposals document): 

  • 7% fixed flat-rate for indirect costs; 
  • depreciation costs for equipment;
  • project activities must take place in one of the eligible countries;  
  • financial support to third parties is not allowed; 
  • subcontracting of action tasks is subject to special rules and must be approved by us (either as part of your proposal or in a periodic/final report);  
  • in-kind contributions against payment are allowed (in-kind contributions for free are not prohibited, but they are cost-neutral, i.e. cannot be declared as cost and will not be counted as receipts); 
  • VAT — please note that there are new rules in place since 2013 for public entities (VAT paid by beneficiaries that are public bodies acting as public authority is NOT eligible);
  • costs for the introductory meeting (see section 11) will be eligible as travel costs (2 persons, return ticket to Brussels, accommodation for one night).

5.  Topic 3 – “At least one partner in a consortium must be a business partner in the sense of a profit making legal entity”. What does that mean? Does it mean the company must be for-profit, in the sense of not non-profit (as is the rule under the SME Instrument)? Or does it mean that the company must be making a profit? The latter would of course eliminate most start-ups/ young companies/ early stage spin-offs.

Please note that the general eligibility conditions for participants (applicable to all 3 topics) is given in section 5 of the call, which requires, amongst others, that applicants are legal persons and belong to one of the following categories: private entities, public entities, or international organisations. Then, specific to topic 3, there is the requirement that  at least one partner in a consortium must be a business partner in the sense of a profit making legal entity (or in the case of single applicants, that the applicant is the business partner in the sense of a profit making legal entity).

The requirement is that the private entity must be an undertaking that has the purpose of making  profit as opposed to other possible entities that could have a private status but have other goals. In this respect, the definition of non-profit organisations is "A legal entity which, by its legal form, is non-profit making AND/OR which has a statutory obligation not to distribute profits to its shareholders or individual members ".

As regards start-ups/ young companies/ early stage spin-offs, please note also on the provisions in section 7 on financial capacity, which requires that all project participants must have stable and sufficient resources to successfully implement the project and contribute their share. The financial capacity check will be done by us on the basis of the documents you will be requested to upload in the Participant Register (profit and loss account and balance sheet for the last two closed financial years, or for newly created entities possibly the business plan) at the Grant Agreement preparation phase.

 

6. How do you see the main differences between call 3 and the EIC instruments like the SME Instrument phase 2 or FTI?

Topic 3 – Grants for the Blue Economy is part of an EMFF call for proposals. The SME Instrument phase 2 is part of Horizon 2020. They are different programmes and they have different rules and objectives. Some differences include: Topic 3 is exclusively focused on the blue economy whereas the SME Instrument has no topics defined any longer and covers all sectors of the economy. The budget ranges for projects in topic 3 of the 2018 Blue Economy call are between €0.5 mil. to 1 mil., whereas in the SME Instrument  phase 2 the ranges are between €  0.5 mil. to 2.5 mil. The business coaching services of SMEi phase 2 is not part of topic 3. The submission and evaluation phase is also different. For further information on the EIC SME Insturment please see here. 

 

7. The call text mentions aquaculture among the relevant sectors for call 3. Call 1 mentions both offshore and onshore aquaculture, and the EC 2018 report on EU blue economy mentions onshore aquaculture among the six established blue economy sectors, so I assume that both offshore and onshore aquaculture is relevant for EMFF-3-2018. But since the EMFF does generally focus on the maritime sector, I am not sure.  Can you please let me know if onshore aquaculture would indeed be relevant for EMFF-3-2018?

Offshore and onshore aquaculture can be relevant for EMFF-3-2018 as long as the action is justified and linked with the project objectives and the objectives of the topic. We invite you to pay particular attention to sections Themes & priorities, Activities that can be funded and Expected results of the topic 3 on pages 14 – 17 in the call for proposals document

Please also note that proposals must relate to activities concerning one of the following sea basins/areas: North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea basins as well as the EU Outermost regions marine areas. Proposals can focus on a part/sub-region of these sea basins/areas.  Activities should normally relate to the EU waters, but may extend into neighbouring waters, if this is necessary for the implementation of the project (in view of its nature and its objectives).

 

8. EMFF-03-2018 – Grants for the Blue Economy. Our company look for scalable, international potential, deep technology based start-ups with innovative solutions or disruptive business models to the maritime sector. We believe in collaborative approach so as to groom the entrepreneurs throughout their start-up journey and further enhance their business models and refine their monetization model. Moreover, we help connecting our deep technology based start-ups with the best potential investors to support and turn their projects into great companies. Our question is whether our acceleration program would fall among the Blue Economy categories in section 2 (core activities).

 

Please note that EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals). 

Regarding the activities that can be funded under the topic 3, we would invite you to pay particular attention to the call for proposals text and the section themes & priorities (page 14 – 15)  and activities that can be funded (page 15 – 16) and also expected results (page 16 – 17).  

 

9. EMFF-03-2018 (Blue Economy). Our company is established in a EU country but it is devoted to study tropical species, therefore we need to carry out demonstrative activities in tropical no-EU waters (mainly Atlantic and Pacific Oceans). Taking into account the geographical scope of the call, would our proposal be eligible? It must be noticed that our project will benefit EU Blue economy, since blue EU companies also need to operate in no-EU waters. 

 

As stated in the call for proposals (section 5 – Eligibility conditions – applicable for all three topics) a project applicant must be (inter alia) established in an EU Member State (including overseas countries and territories) or for projects with activities extending to neighbouring waters outside the territory of the EU, the applicant must be established in one of the mentioned eligible non-EU countries and must be necessary for the implementation of the project (in view of its nature and its objectives) : 

  • for activities related to the EU Atlantic Sea Strategy: Canada and the United States of America;
  • for activities related to the waters of an EU Outermost Region: the countries with neighbouring waters.

For more information about the Overseas Countries and Territories, please see page 19 of the call for proposals document.

In particular, please see the paragraph on Geographical scope on page 21 of the call document which states that: Proposals must relate to activities concerning one of the following sea basins/areas: North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea basins as well as the EU Outermost regions marine areas. Please note that activities should normally relate to the EU waters, but may extend into neighbouring waters, if this is necessary for the implementation of the project (in view of its nature and its objectives). Please note that the relevance and added value of the project and whether the proposed activities have a logical link with the project objectives and targets will be assessed as part of the award criteria (see section 6 of the call document). 

Regarding the question on eligibility of your proposal, EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals).

10. I am writing to you as regards of the above-referenced call. We would like to submit a proposal for this call but we are a little unsure about our topic being fit for the proposed Themes and Priorities. In particular, we would like to know to what extend the examples given are restrictive in Theme 3: Innovative marina and leisure boat design: e.g. development of technological solutions/products and services for marinas to adapt to changing demand from customers (e.g. access to marinas and boats for an ageing population; ICT- oriented requirements from young people) and/or address environmental challenges (e.g. safe dismantling and recycling of leisure boats);

Are those examples the only themes accepted? Will projects addressing the proposed examples be given priority? Our project idea is related to the development of XXX. Can you kindly confirm if it fits in the topic scope?

 

For the EMFF-01-2018 – Blue Labs, as it is stated in the call for proposals document (page 7), applicants MUST select only one of the following specific themes per proposal:

  1. Blue bio-remediation
  2. Unexploded ordnances at sea
  3. Innovative marina and leisure boat design
  4. Marine biomass and blue-bioeconomy
  5. Ecofriendly aquaculture

 

Under the themes, projects must undertake all of the core activities listed on page 8, as part of the project implementation. In addition to the core activities, applicants should include in their project at least one or more of the complementary activities listed on the page 8. Please note that the list of complementary activities is non-exhaustive and aims at providing guidance to an applicant. To answer your question, projects addressing different topic than it is listed above, won’t be considered as eligible.

 

Regarding the second question on the eligibility of the project idea, please note that EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals).

 

11. We are currently evaluating possible participation on the “EMFF-03-2018 (Topic 3) with a project in the island of Curacao (OCTs).  Although the island is explicitly listed under the eligible territories list on page 19 of the call document it is not clear to us if it meets the geographical scope requirement on page 21: 

“Proposals must relate to activities concerning one of the following sea basins/areas: North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea basins as well as the EU Outermost regions marine areas. Proposals can focus on a part/sub-region of these sea basins/areas. Activities should normally relate to the EU waters, but may extend into neighbouring waters, if this is necessary for the implementation of the project (in view of its nature and its objectives).”

Can you please clarify to us if a project located in the Caribbean Sea as part of the marine area of certain EU Outermost territories and OCTs would be eligible for this call?

 

In order to be eligible, project proposals must conform to (inter alia) the eligibility conditions for participants and the conditions on the geographical scope of the project activities.

 

As it is stated in the General eligibility conditions for participants in the call for proposals document (page 19), in order to be eligible for a grant, the applicants must be (inter alia):

- established in an EU Member State (including OCTs)

 

Applicants from Curaçao can therefore be eligible. Please note that the consortium coordinator (or, for Topic 3, the single applicant submitting the application) must be established in an EU Member State. An entity established in Curaçao is therefore eligible as a project partner only.

 

Conditions on the geographical scope of the project activities for Topic 3 are set out on page 21 of the call for proposals document.  As you have correctly mentioned, proposals must relate to activities concerning one of the following sea basins/areas: North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea basins as well as the EU Outermost regions marine areas. Proposals can focus on a part/sub-region of these sea basins/areas. In addition, activities should normally relate to the EU waters, but may extend into neighbouring waters, if this is necessary for the implementation of the project (in view of its nature and its objectives).

 

Therefore, for activities in the Caribbean Sea to be eligible, they must relate to one or more of the EU Outermost Regions in the Caribbean (Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin) and may extend into neighbouring waters of the Outermost Region(s) in question. We would also invite you to pay particular attention to FAQ section, question 3 under the “Topic 3 | Grants for Blue Economy” on eligibility.

12.  A) We heard that EU priority for boosting investments in Blue Economy may be given to Black Sea Synergy, namely  Bulgaria and Romania and non-EU riparian countries of the Black Sea. Is that true and do we need to orientate our project in the Black Sea Basin ?

B) We understand that our proposal will not comply the requirement for a third party investor. Is that a must award criteria ? Should you abandon ? Is the preference for a third party investor primarily to show third party validation of the project ? Could you elaborate on the other motivations/reasons, if any, for setting this preference ? Is it intended to bring financial support to companies which do not have this self-investment capacity ? Is it enough that the applicants fund the remainder considering the fact that the long-term sustainability of the project might be ensured by an upcoming regulatory framework ?  

A) There is no priority towards particular EU sea basins. The text on the geographical scope  (see page 21 of the call for proposals document) clearly states that “Proposals must relate to activities concerning one of the following sea basins/areas: North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea basins as well as the EU Outermost regions marine areas. Proposals can focus on a part/sub-region of these sea basins/areas.” Activities should normally relate to the EU waters, but may extend into neighbouring waters, if this is necessary for the implementation of the project (in view of its nature and its objectives).

B) Third party investment is not a requirement under Topic 3 but, as is stated in the call for proposals document (page 15), priority will be given to proposals that are at a sufficiently advanced stage in terms of securing financing from third party investors, e.g. as demonstrated by, for instance, a letter of intent by an investor to support the project. The extent to which the proposal demonstrates financing support from investors will be assessed as one of four sub-criteria under the ‘Impact’ award criterion (page 24).

The aim of the action is to promote projects that are able to attract third-party co-funding but require support to do so. This is in line with the EU’s Blue Growth Strategy, the objectives of which include mobilising investment in the sustainable blue economy. The 2014 Commission Communication on Innovation in the Blue Economy recognised the existence of considerable funding gaps in scaling up promising projects from pilot to demonstration phase. 

Please note also that EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals).

13.  We went through the requirements for Blue Lab and Blue Economy and have few questions regarding eligibility criteria and the application process. Let me first shortly tell you about XXX. Our aim is to XXX.  At his stage we have completed Technology readiness level 3 – experimental proof of concept and in few months will reach Technology readiness level 4 –Technology validated in lab as we are running tests in lab right now.

  1. It’s mentioned in the Call for proposals document, that for Blue Economy “proposal must have a completed proof of concept and early field trials under the way” (page 14). What step is that according to Technology readiness levels?
  2. Is there any similar restriction for Blue Lab application? Can we apply for this grant on this stage?
  3. Are there any requirements about self-financing for Blue Economy and Blue Lab? Point 7 (page 27) states that “all project participants must have stable and sufficient resources to successfully implement the project and contribute their share”. Can the project be financed entirely from the grant resources? Is there any required percentage of self-financing in total financing of a project? At this stage our start-up doesn’t have any other revenue streams.

As it is stated in the project for proposals document (see footnotes of page 14), the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the proposed actions must be from 6 to 9  (see General Annex G of the H2020 Work Programme to assess the TRL of your innovation):

TRL 6 - Technology demonstrated in relevant environment

TRL 7- System prototype demonstration in operational environment

TRL 8 - System complete and qualified

TRL 9 - Actual system proven in operational environment

Completed proof of concept and early field trials under way applies only on topic 3 EMFF-03-2018 – Grants for the Blue Economy: investing in innovations. Please note that EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals).

Regarding your last question, please see page 31 of the project for proposals document.

The grant will be a reimbursement of actual costs grant. This means that it will reimburse ONLY certain types of costs (eligible costs) and ONLY those costs you actually incurred for your project (NOT the budgeted costs). 

The costs will be reimbursed at the funding rate fixed in the grant agreement:

  • maximum 80% for Topics 1 and 2
  • maximum 65% for Topic 3

EU grants may NOT produce a profit. If there is a profit (i.e.  surplus of receipts + EU grant over costs), we will deduct it from your final grant amount. The final grant amount you will receive will therefore depend on a variety of criteria (actual costs incurred and project income; eligibility; compliance with all the rules under the grant agreement, etc.). For the cost eligibility rules, see the model grant agreement (art. 6) and the Guide for applicants.

14. Topic 3:  What would be the % of pages we should dedicate to the business plan ? Which sections are particularly important for the proposal ? Could please provide guidance and detailed answer on which sections/content of what is expected for the evaluation ?

There is no recommended number of pages (or % of pages) that should be dedicated to the business plan. It is necessary to address fully all sections of the application form and to convey the general and specific objectives of your project, while adhering to the page limit.

We would invite you to pay particular attention to section 6 (Award Criteria) of the Call for proposals document. Admissible and eligible applications will be evaluated and ranked against of the award criteria stated on pages 21 – 25.

Regarding the business plan (see table on page 24), the sustainability and long-term impact of the proposal will be assessed on the following basis:

  • the extent to which the proposal demonstrates financing support from investors. In line with the objectives of this topic, priority will be given to proposals that are at a sufficiently advanced stage in terms of securing financing from investors, e.g. as demonstrated by a letter of intent by an investor to support the project;
  • the extent to which the proposal creates new market opportunity in the blue economy and projects the longer term impact on economic and social and/or environmental  parameters; including by demonstrating that there will be a realistic demand/market for the innovation proposed, providing a clear business plan. A key aspect is to demonstrate that your project has a European or international dimension;
  • the extent to which the proposal provides measures to disseminate and exploit the project's results and maximise the impact, including by providing a clear and well-designed communication and commercialisation strategy; and including measures linked to intellectual property, knowledge protection and regulatory issues (“Freedom to operate” measures, management of IPR if relevant, regulatory and/or standards requirements);
  • the extent to which the proposed solutions/methodology/approach may be transferable/transferred to other areas/regions/domains.

15. Could you please confirm that an elaborated business plan (see definition below from the call for proposal) is a deliverable of the project and that it should be delivered to EU at the end of the project ?

As you have correctly mentioned, elaborated business plans (see the call for proposals page 15 – 20), can be a part of the core activities within the topic 3. As it is stated, projects must undertake concrete activities in at least one of the following categories as part of the project implementation:

  • Produce new materials, products or devices, and/or install new processes, systems and services, and/or improve substantially those already designed, produced and/or installed; and/or operating pre-commercial pilot manufacturing system; and/or test and validate the manufacturing process of first small series of pre-commercial products
  • Consult, obtain feedback and validate with relevant stakeholders the technologies/services/products being tested/deployed/scaled-up and/or prepare internal and external organisations for full manufacturing, including development of a value chain; and/or prepare for full commercialisation, e.g. market/competitor/investment analyses, elaborated business plans (including risk management, intellectual property rights, access to financing, replication potential to other industrial/commercial application or to other sectors, entities, regions etc.)

Therefore, an elaborated business plan is included within one option for core activities. It is not required that proposals address both options.

Please see also Article 21 of the model grant agreement on confidentiality, according to which the parties to the grant agreement must keep confidential any data, documents or other material that is identified as confidential at the time it is disclosed.

16. The project indicators (Annex 3 to part B) for topic 3 include an indicator  on the Employment defined as a number of Jobs created expressed in % of change with respect to the baseline at the start of the project. Does this change apply 

  • to the company's applicant and/or partners ?
  • to the physical product's manufacturers ?
  • to the specific customers/blue economy sector targeted  by the project ?

The employment change (in %) refers to all new jobs (FTE = equivalent to one employee working full-time) created during the implementation of project. It is necessary to compare the change (expressed as a percentage) at the end of the project to the initial situation (at the beginning of the project). Please note that you need to explain reference data used to calculate the chosen baseline.

Moreover, note that the list of indicators in the Annex 3 to part B is non-exhaustive. The list gives some examples of objectives that are aligned to the topic objectives. You may leave blank some fields, or include additional ones tailored to your specific project objectives.

17. What is the success rate for the topic “Blue Economy” ? Is it as competitive as Horizon 2020 calls for proposals ? Would it be possible to get funded for a smaller project than expected, but very innovative ? (i.e. the total project’s cost would be less than 500,000 €)

Regarding the success rate,

  • for the 2016 call “Blue Technology: Transfer of Innovative Solutions to Sea Basin Economies” (EASME/EMFF/2016/1.2.1.3) there were 9 eligible proposals, from which 3 were successful (33,3 %)
  • for the 2017 call “Demonstration projects making blue technologies market- and investor-ready” (EASME/EMFF/2017/1.2.1.12/S1) there were 31 eligible proposals, from which 11 were successful (35,4 %)

EASME considers that proposals requesting a contribution in the ranges indicated in the table on page 19  (project proposals document) would allow the specific objectives per topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting higher or lower amounts.


18. Please find below a new batch of questions related to EMFF-2018-1.2.1.7 - EMFF-03-2018 – Grants for the Blue Economy: investing in innovation. This enquiry relates to the template part B word document, § 5.4 Ethics, Environment & security. We request clarification on the expected content of the Environment section. Though we had a close reading of the EASME Environmental Policy Charter, it is not clear enough. The template document mentions the following indication: Where applicable, briefly describe the measures to reduce the environmental footprint of your proposal. Note: Refer to the EASME Environmental Policy Charter

  • Should we elaborate the environmental footprint of the proposal preparation work, like: fully digital work place, visio-conference meetings, etc? 
  • Or should we elaborate the environmental impact of the proposed project / activities undertaken during the project?
  • Could we refer to our corporate social and environmental responsibility report?

Section 5.4 Ethics, environment & security of the Proposal template (Part B) refers to measures to reduce the environmental footprint of the proposed project, its tasks and actions. Regarding the question on the references to your corporate social and environmental responsibility report, please note that EASME cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an applicant, a partner, an action or specific activities of a particular project (i.e. there are no pre-screening checks of project proposals).