As well as supporting public authorities, NGOs, universities and institutes, the LIFE programme helps companies bring their green products, technologies, services and processes to the market.
These so-called close-to-market projects launch innovative, demonstrative solutions that offer clear environmental and/or climate benefits. Examples could be in waste management, the circular economy, resource efficiency, water, air or climate change mitigation.
These projects also have a high level of technical and business readiness. This means that solutions could be implemented in close-to-market conditions (at industrial or commercial scale) during the course of the project or shortly after its completion.
How LIFE helps close-to-market projects
The LIFE Programme has been instrumental in supporting green innovations and cleantech solutions across Europe. As well as funding up to 55% of each project, the LIFE financial instrument helps with the commercialisation of innovative solutions, easing their entry into the market. A dedicated team with extensive business and financial experience is on hand to support close-to-market projects via a variety of services such as:
- Business plan development advise
- Business coaching - project strategy and business set-up with emphasis on the project’s commercial development and sustainability post-LIFE funding
- Presentation guidance - training on how to communicate with potential investors
- Expert connections – e.g. connecting projects with Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) specialists
- External debt financing – identifying debt financing options (loans, guarantees) and financing institutions
How to apply for funding
Each April, the European Commission publishes LIFE calls for project proposals. Applicants for close-to-market projects can apply in the areas of climate action and environment & resource efficiency.
Tips for applicants
1. Show the impact
Clearly explain how your project will serve the environment or climate. Ensure that its benefits are ambitious, credible and well quantified, as set out in the key project level indicators for environment and climate action projects in your application pack.
2. Think sustainably
To help us assess the technical coherence and quality of your application, describe how your project will outlast its funding. How will the products or services that you develop thrive on the open market? All LIFE close-to-market projects must also produce a business plan.
3. Transfer and replicate
Outline how you will replicate and transfer your results to other sectors, regions or countries, beyond LIFE funding. Clarity will help your proposal meet the award criteria on sustainability, continuation, replication and transfer potential. For more details, see the evaluation guides for environment and climate action projects.
4. Follow guidelines
Consult the application guides for environment and climate action projects when describing the problem that you are addressing, the solution you propose, the team you pitch and why your project deserves funding. These guides set out how your project will be evaluated.
5. Pick your team
Describe the staff members involved in each action and show that your partners can take on the challenges ahead. Aim to involve the players across your value chain as stakeholders and/or direct partners if possible.
6. Plan ahead
Before writing, start budgeting. Ensure that each expense reflects market prices and is justified given its impact on sustainability and your business potential.
7. Write a business plan structure
A business plan is one of the deliverables of your project, its drafting should have a dedicated action in your project design and you should plan writing it as soon as possible. A good business plan will help both you and investors understand your market, competitors, costs and sources of income. It also gives tangible milestones to follow and gauge your progress.
8. Do your research
Read the application and evaluation guides as well as the other resources in the application package. For more tips, have a look at existing LIFE projects, join our EU LIFE Information and Networking Day and/or national Info Days organized by National Contact Points (NCPs), and liaise with your NCP with any questions you may have.