What’s it like to apply for LIFE funding? How much time does it take? Is it hard to find partners? We caught up with LIFE BIOBCOMPO’s Alfonso Molaro to gain his insight into the process.
This article is the first in a short series on applying for LIFE funding. More insights coming soon.
Tell us about yourself and your company
My name is Alfonso Molaro and I am a Research & Development Application Engineer at SAPA Group. SAPA’s main area of business is mould injection for the automotive sector. We supply various components to major international car manufacturers. Most of our products use the ONE-SHOT® production method, resulting in lighter components at a cheaper production cost. SAPA is present in Italy and Europe and employs more than 1 700 people.
Can you briefly describe your LIFE project?
The LIFE BIOBCOMPO (Lightweight bio-based polymer composites for lower emission vehicles) project is being coordinated by SAPA Poland in close collaboration with a number of partners.
The idea behind the project is that by manufacturing vehicle components with low-density thermoplastic materials from renewable sources, the weight of the car will be reduced. A lighter vehicle will in turn produce lower emissions. The environmental goal of LIFE BIOBCOMPO is to reduce CO2 emissions from cars.
How did you find out about LIFE funding?
A financial services consultancy told us about the opportunity of LIFE funding. Not long after, we decided to
apply through the LIFE climate sub-programme which has a single stage application procedure.
How long did it take you to prepare the full proposal?
It took us approximately three months to prepare.
How did you find your project partners?
We have all worked together previously.
For example, we are already one of our automotive partner's suppliers and often collaborate on projects that aim to commercialise innovative solutions. In this project, they will verify that the new components will have good thermo-mechanical properties, a high aesthetic value, good dimensional stability and they will pass all the qualification tests, in accordance with their standards.
Another research partner will test the components and a spin-off company recognised by the University of Naples will evaluate their environmental impact via a Life Cycle Assessment.
What are your top three tips for future applicants?
- Start thinking about your project idea and consortium at least six months before the deadline.
- Give yourself 3 months to write the proposal.
- Look for support during both the preparation and implementation phases.
What's next for the project?
The prototype components produced using the new bio-composites have shown a weight reduction of around 8%, when compared to making the same parts using conventional materials. The main objective of the project has therefore been achieved.
But there is a way to go. These components will next undergo more testing before the recycling potential of the bio-composite materials is verified.
Images: LIFE17 CCM/PL/000049 - Licensed to the European Union under conditions.