EMFF Blue economy window call - FAQ

Please find below the generic FAQ about EMFF calls for proposals. All applicants are kindly invited to consult this general FAQ section first.

A. Eligibility – for profit SMEs

A. 1. Given that the letter of intent required is part of the annexes of the proposal (not the main evaluated sections), is it mandatory to provide any or not?

As indicated in section 10 of the Call for proposals, the letter of intent constitutes a mandatory element. If you do not upload the requested document, you will not be able to submit your proposal. Please be aware that, as stated on pages 6 and 7 of the Call for proposals as well as footnote n°23, the letter must indicate such elements as the name of the recipient company, name of the investor, type of investment support, amount, date, signature.
 
A. 2. You talk about investors and letter from a recognized investors, so a self-financed company is still eligible for this programme?

Recognised investors and fund management bodies appear in the lists of financial intermediaries (FI) for equity and guarantees selected under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). These lists feature a wide range of organisations but they are not exclusive. 
Letter of intent and self-financing are two different things. The letter of intent has the purpose of demonstrating that the project has sufficient traction with customers and investors to make it sustainable. The remaining costs should come from: 

  • 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).
 
A. 3. It says that you have to receive "a letter from a recognised investor". What is meant by ”recognized”? Is a Letter of Intent from any private investor okay?
 
See reply given above.
 
A. 4. Regarding the letter of intent, do we need to have a financial intermediary, which will provide with the rest of the funding not covered by the call?
 
No.The remaining costs should come from: 

  • 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).
 
A. 4. Is the EUR 2.5 million the maximum EU contribution or the maximum budget?
 
EASME considers that proposals requesting a contribution in the range between EUR 700 000 and EUR 2 500 000 would allow the specific objectives of the Call topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
 
A. 5.  What’s the difference with the EIC-SMEi P2 or accelerator? It looks like a parallel call with the same target and objectives. Was success rate of BG SMEs too low?
 
It is a paradigm shift under EMFF direct management from "traditional grants" to SMEs focused grants in the same vein as the SME instrument – Phase 2 and new EIC accelerator programme from which this call draws inspiration from.
Grants to be awarded under this call for proposals are also branded as "BlueInvest Grants" since they are part of a comprehensive service package offered by the ‘BlueInvest platform’ that supports investment readiness and access to finance for early-stage businesses, SMEs and scale-ups in the blue economy.
 
A. 6. Could a funded SME benefit from the EIC community activities?
 
The EIC Community brings together all the people that interact around the EIC. For the moment, the Community is open for EIC pilot-funded small companies under Fast Track to Innovation, Pathfinder, EIC Accelerator, and investors.
In contrast, the BlueInvest Community is open to entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and innovation stakeholders interested in the Blue Economy.
 
A. 7. Do you leverage from the experience of the EIC programme? Meaning synergies with EIC Community, coaches, etc.
 
Yes, EASME takes everyadvantage to facilitate synergies between the programmes it manages, notably between EMFF and EIC.
 
A. 8. The consortium has to be led by a SME, but has to consist of SMEs exclusively?

Yes, only for-profit SMEs.

A.9. Are seawater desalination projects eligible?

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 is no pre-screening checks of project proposals).
Please refer to Section 2 on Objectives – Scope - activities – expected impact of the Call text.

A.10. Can components of a bigger system (turbine) be funded?

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 is no pre-screening checks of project proposals).
Please refer to Section 2 on Objectives – Scope - activities – expected impact of the Call text.

A.11. If the letter of intent is dated June 2019, is it ok? Or is it too old?

It depends on how relevant the letter of intent appears to be in respect of your application and the purpose of the call. Its contents should be pertinent enough to convince the evaluators of its validity.

A.12. Subcontracting should be limited, but if we need to build a major equipment outside of our own SME; should it be under subcontracting or under equipment?

Please refer to question 24 of the general FAQs on EMFF calls for proposals.

A.13. We are an SME that could participate in both the EIC Accelerator and EMFF Blue Invest – Grants call for proposals in the first quarter of 2020. We would like to know if it is possible to apply for both calls to maximize our chance of success?

Applicants should remain aware of the fact that the scope, objectives and eligibility conditions governing the two calls are not strictly identical. However, please note that according to the non-cumulative award and double funding principle, the same activity cannot be funded twice. Any given action may receive only one grant from the EU budget. Cost items cannot be declared twice under different EU actions.

A.14. The project concerns technology innovations that are in advanced development, and close to launch to market. However, this development has been funded in part by a domestic UK agency, Innovate UK. As Innovate UK is not an European Union funding body, we believe that we would still qualify to present the project to Blue Invest. Please, could you confirm if our understanding is correct?

Recognised investors and fund management bodies appear in the lists of financial intermediaries (FI) for equity and guarantees (see answer to question A.2) selected under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). These lists feature a wide range of organisations but they are not exclusive.

For UK applicants: Please note that until the United Kingdom leaves the EU, nothing changes with regard to the participation in EU programmes. Please be aware however that the eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of our grants. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during that period (without an agreement ensuring eligibility for UK beneficiaries), you will cease to receive EU funding or be required to leave the project on the basis of the contractual provisions on termination.

A.15. In Horizon 2020, Greenland is an Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) and can be a partner in Horizon 2020. Does this also apply to the grants in BlueInvest - Grants?

In order to be eligible for a grant, the applicants must be legally established in EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories OCTs). OCTs are listed in the call text in compliance with Annex II of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU.

A.16. We are preparing a proposal for the Blue Economy Window Call on behalf of one of our clients. They would like to develop a demonstration project for offshore floating solar around islands outside Europe’s sea basins. From the Decision by the European Commission, it seems that such a project is not eligible for this specific call for geographical reasons: “The aim is to bring to market new products, services and business models in blue economy value chains and sustainable blue growth in Europe's sea basins.” However, in the funding & tender portal part of the expected impact of the project is related to seizing new market and business opportunities in the EU and beyond. 
Does this mean that the project has to be established within Europe’s sea basins but that the project should have market potential outside the EU? Could you please elaborate on the exact geographical requirement of the project for this Call?

In order to be eligible for a grant, the applicants must be legally established in EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories OCTs). Applicants established in non-EU countries can exceptionally be considered eligible if their involvement is necessary in view of the nature of the action and in order to reach its objectives.

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 is no pre-screening checks of project proposals). 

A.17. If an Israeli company is providing disruptively innovative technology for a project in the Call areas of interest and part of project activities are in Israel, is that Israeli SME eligible to participate in the Call?

In order to be eligible for a grant, the applicants must be legally established in EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories OCTs). Applicants established in non-EU countries can exceptionally be considered eligible if their involvement is necessary in view of the nature of the action and in order to reach its objectives.  
 

B. Evaluation process and award criteria


B.1. The 'Impact' does not seem to take into account indicators reflecting some EU's priority related to environmental impacts, climate change and societal issues?!
 
Under “Expected impacts” (page 8 of the call for proposals - Blue Economy SME Window call 2019 EMFF-BEW-2019), projects are expected to:
“Generate a measurable social and environmental impact contributing to EU goals such as decarbonisation, circular economy and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (e.g. SDG 14).
Besides, the “Impact” evaluation criterion does address “environmental impact, climate change and societal issues” under sub-criterion “European added value” featuring, on the one hand; “contribution to EU goals and UN SDGs as listed in the call text”. On the other hand, it refers to “Contribution of the proposed innovation to EU growth and the creation or maintenance of high quality jobs in the EU” (see page 13 of the Call for proposals - Blue Economy SME Window call 2019 EMFF-BEW-2019).
According to the call text, the non-exclusive list of objectives that can be funded, includes such EU political objectives as: lower greenhouse gas emissions, a more circular economy, energy security, adaptation to climate change, inclusion of coastal communities, creation of high-value blue economy jobs, better protection, sustainable use of natural or cultural capital (see page 7 of the Call for proposals - Blue Economy SME Window call 2019 EMFF-BEW-2019).
Finally, the mandatory EMFF Project Indicators table (annex 3 to Part B) unequivocally requires applicants to define project success indicators encompassing the Blue economy sector but also the environmental and societal fields.
 
B.2. Why is the evaluation does not directly cover issues on EU's priorities and policy objectives (climate change, ocean's health, societal issues...)?
 
See question B.1.
 
B.3. Has a consortium more chances of winning than a single company?
 
No. 
The applications can be submitted by a consortium of partners or a single applicant. 
The consortium coordinator or the single applicant submitting the application has to be established in an EU Member State.    
 
B.4. With 22,5 million, around 10 to 20 projects will be funded. What’s the expected success rate?
 
The success rate will depend on the number and the quality of projects submitted.
 
B.5. TRL6 implies testing in "relevant environment" / "in the sea". Must this be complete before application, or planned as part of the proposed project?
 
As this action does not seek to support an early stage research project but an initiative likely to reach commercialisation stage at the end of the project. Therefore, proposals that do not demonstrate a minimum of TRL6, at the time of the application, are likely to receive a lower evaluation score under the “Innovation” criterion.
 
B.6. Could you remind us the max annual balance of the SME?
 
Recommendation 2003/361/EC setting out the definition of a Small-and-Medium-sized Enterprise states that the Balance Sheet total should be lower or equal to EUR 43 million.
 
https://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/business-friendly-environment/sme-defin...;

B. 7.The call text says that projects are expected to haveTRL6-8. Does that mean that you need to have TRL5 at the time of application or TRL6?

See reply given to question B.5.

B. 8. What are the expected results?

Please see Section 2 on Objectives – Scope – activities – expected impacts of the Call text.

B.9. Does the required amount influence the selection criteria? That is to say that, for two projects with the same scoring, has a proposal requesting a contribution of EUR 800 000, more chance than a proposal requesting a contribution of EUR 2 500 000?

The requested amount is not a selection criterion.  In the case of ex-aequo proposals (proposals given the same consensus score), the following method is applied: Proposals are first prioritised according to scores given for the award criterion 'impact'. Where those scores are equal, priority is then determined using scores for the award criterion 'innovation'. If a distinction still cannot be made, a further prioritisation can be done by considering the overall project portfolio and the creation of positive synergies between projects, and/or other factors related to the objectives of the call for proposals (including geographical coverage).

C. Other issues  

C. 1. We would like a confirmation that a Blue Economy Call for proposals will be published again in 2020 and that there is a work programme for 2020?
This current call for proposals is launched in accordance with the 2019 work programme for the implementation of the European Maritime Fisheries Fund. The European Commission will prepare a 2020 work programme for the implementation of the EMFF dealing the different planned actions . Its adoption should take place in the coming weeks.

C. 2. I went through the supporting documents for the Blue Invest Grant call and I downloaded the templates needed to fill the application. The excel budget table do not allow me to insert data and request a password. The Part B template and annexes are due to be fill in as document file but only a pdf file is available with a watermark “Example, not to complete”
Could you tell me where I can find the excel and document templates?

The submission process is explained in the Online Manual (together with detailed instructions for the IT tool and support). 

C.3. We read from the model grant agreement that pre-financing is applicable to this call, we would just like to ask if you can confirm , and roughly to what extent of the 70% co-financing could this be; e.g. more or less 50% of the 70% of project ?

As stipulated in the call text, after grant signature, EASME will provide you with a float to start working on the project (pre-financing of 40% of the maximum grant amount; exceptionally less or no pre-financing).

C.4. Is there any way of achieving a pre-ruling / checking eligibility of a specific company from a non-member state before investing time and effort in submission process and misleading consortium partners? 

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 is no pre-screening checks of project proposals). See answer given to question 3 of the general FAQs on EMFF calls for proposals.
 

Share this page: