When business meets the environment

Frequently asked questions

Download FAQs as PDFExpand allCollapse allEco-Innovation background information

1. What is Eco-Innovation?

Any form of innovation aiming at significant and demonstrable progress towards the goal of sustainable development. This can be achieved either by reducing the environmental impact or achieving a more efficient and responsible use of resources.

Eco-innovation projects will therefore aim to produce quality products with less environmental impact, whilst innovation can also include moving towards more environmentally friendly production processes and services. Ultimately they will contribute towards the reduction of greenhouse gases or the more efficient use of various resources.

Innovations that are already commercially available on the market cannot qualify for funding, as a residual risk for market uptake is required for this.

2. What do we mean by “exploitation” and “market replication”?

CIP Eco-innovation aims at projects that maximize their impact and mobilize wide market uptake, helping it reach a critical mass and self-sufficiency during the project and in the short/medium term.

A clear business and exploitation plan should be part of every project. If you do not have one at the time of your proposal, you must explain how the project will evolve to tackle exploitation, market replication and return on investment. The challenge for projects in terms of market replication is to find ways to encourage the uptake of their Eco-innovation on a broader scale during their project or shortly after.

You can have a look at a few examples of projects that have achieved good market uptake [80 KB] .

3. Which sectors are covered by the initiative?

The Eco-innovation initiative is a cross-cutting programme that supports eco-innovative projects, which aim at the prevention or the reduction of environmental impacts or which contribute to the optimal use of resources. Current priority areas in the Call are: material recycling, sustainable building products, food & drink applications, the water sector and green business.

These priorities have been set on the basis of environmental impact and European Union policy priorities. However, they are non-exclusive: any good idea that well matches the basic principles and the award criteria for Eco-innovation could receive funding.

4. What does "life-cycle oriented approach" mean?

All proposals submitted to the Eco-innovation programme should consider the entire life-cycle of the proposed solution, from production to disposal, covering the whole supply chain and not focusing on a single domain i.e. energy consumption. It is not a legal requirement or a precondition for an applicant to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), but you should demonstrate that your proposal takes a life-cycle oriented approach.
You can carry out a Life Cycle Assessment according to the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook .

5. When will the 2014 call for proposal be published?

The 2013 call will be the last call under the current CIP programme. A continuation of Eco-innovation should take place under the umbrella of the Horizon 2020 programme. Details (including the budget) are not yet decided, please check the EACI website from January 2014.

6. What's an SME?

At CIP Eco-innovation, we apply the European definition to an SME as laid down in the EC Recommendation (2003/361/EC).

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Who we do target

7. Can a large enterprise participate in the programme?

Yes, the Eco-innovation initiative is open to all legal persons that are based in eligible countries. Large enterprises are therefore eligible, although priority will be given to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs, see also "award criterion 1", point 7 of the Call for Proposals).

8. Can research and technological institutes apply for funding under the Eco-innovation initiative?

Yes, the Eco-innovation initiative is open to all legal persons that are based in eligible countries. As the initiative itself is not a research programme but comes in after research and technological demonstration, the roles and contributions of research institutes must of course be carefully considered and explained throughout the proposal.

9. Does the Eco-innovation initiative fund the construction of new installations?

Yes. The Eco-innovation initiative funds limited "hardware" type of investments, such as new recycling installations and their success must have already been technically demonstrated before being put on the market.

Only the costs for equipment or infrastructure directly linked with the innovative action are eligible for funding. Additionally, only the portion of the equipment's depreciation corresponding to the duration of the action and the actual usage rate for the purpose of the action may be taken into account as eligible costs. For example, the construction of a new recycling plant would not be completely eligible (e.g. classical warehouse cannot be claimed), but those components in the production process or parts of the plant that are needed to produce the innovative recycled material may be eligible.

Who we do not target

10. Are projects focused on energy sources (e.g. solar, wind, biomass) and energy efficiency (including transport) supported by the initiative?

Projects that focus primarily on energy generation and energy efficiency (including projects on energy efficiency in industry and energy efficiency in transport) are not supported by CIP Eco-innovation.

The Eco-innovation initiative looks for an integrated approach that takes the entire life-cycle into account.
Projects that focus on energy may be applicable for support under the Intelligent Energy Europe programme, provided the main target is dissemination and promotion as well as future areas of H2020 programme.

See IEE website for more information:

The 7 RTD programme (FP 7) also covers energy oriented projects- see:

11. Do you fund actions related to EMAS?

From 2010, projects that go beyond current EMAS are no longer mentioned in the Call text. Projects going beyond EMAS III and projects focussing on a cluster approach may be eligible for funding by the LIFE+ programme. For more information, see:

12. Does the Eco-innovation initiative fund projects related to agriculture?

Actions covered by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), such as rural development, are normally not supported under Eco-Innovation Call. Projects directly related to crop cultivation and livestock farming would not be eligible.
However, innovative products for the agricultural sector providing substantial environmental benefits (such as a fertiliser made out of waste or by-products), may be in line with the objectives of CIP Eco-Innovation.

13. Does the Eco-innovation initiative fund research and technological development (RTD) projects?

The Eco-innovation initiative does not fund RTD projects.

It supports market uptake and encourages the diffusion of innovative techniques, processes, products or services on a broader scale. It does not focus on prototype development and technological demonstration, or the set up for testing and further analysis.
Research and technology development, including demonstration projects at an early stage with a high technological risk, or projects that develop prototypes, could be submitted to the 7th RTD programme (see to the future H2020 programme.

14. Does the Eco-innovation initiative support the set-up of networks?

No. The creation of networks is not financially supported under the Eco-innovation initiative. For more information please consult the Enterprise Europe Network: the Enterprise Europe Network

Financial eligibility

15. I am a startup company, how can I prove financial stability?

If you are unable to provide a financial statement at the time of application, the business plan for the financial year in course must be sent to the Agency.
In case you are selected for funding, you might be asked for a financial guarantee depending on the size of the grant.

16. What are the restrictions for funding from other external sources?

Any aid, granted by the State or through State resources, to the project covered by the grant agreement, must comply with the rules laid down in Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Please note also the European Union guidelines on State aid for environmental protection (see*:PDF български (bg)czech (cs)dansk (da)Deutsch (de)eesti (et)ελληνικά (el)español (es)Français (fr)Gaeilge (ga)italiano (it)latviešu (lv)lietuvių (lt)magyar (hu)Malti (mt)Nederlands (nl)polski (pl)português (pt)română (ro)slovenčina (sk)slovenščina (sl)suomi (fi)svenska (sv) pdf [107 KB] ).

Eligible countries

17. Which countries are eligible?

All participants must be legal persons- as opposed to natural persons- from the following countries:

The 28 member states of the EU

  • Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein
  • Albania
  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Israel
  • Serbia
  • Turkey
  • Other non-EU countries provided they have the appropriate agreement in force.

If your organisation is not based in one of the eligible countries, you may want to contact the Delegation of the European Commission to the respective country in order to obtain information on alternative funding possibilities:

Please check the website for the latest information:

Involving project partners

18. How can I find potential project partners?

Guidance and information on finding potential project partners can be provided through different channels:

Your National Contact Point, if there is one for your country

Business networks such as the Enterprise Europe Network 

Local/regional organisations such as Chambers of Commerce and SME associations

CORDIS Partners service (to find partners related to research and innovation)

the ManagEnergy online partner search facility (

You can also promote an invention through the Technology Marketplace established as part of the European Commission's Research and Development Information Service. For this service you can submit information directly via an on-line entry form at

19. How many partners should be involved in an Eco-innovation project?

Anyone from an individual legal entity to a large consortium may apply.

However, the notion of "European added value" is important. It implies that the benefits of the project on a European scale must be demonstrated (see "award criterion 5" of point 7 of the Call for Proposals), and therefore it must be able to demonstrate why it  should receive European funding as opposed to funding from local, national or regional sources.

Furthermore, award criterion 3 implies an assessment of the impact on target audience, on replication and on the impact on the market. It is important to bear this in mind while setting up a consortium. The contribution of each partner should be thought through.

20. I have a project with many potential partners. Should all of them be part of the project consortium?

The active involvement of key partners in an Eco-innovation project is strongly encouraged. At the same time, the solidity, manageability and credibility of the consortium (in terms of partners, countries, etc.) will be assessed during the evaluation phase. It is up to you to choose the consortium structure that you feel is more appropriate to achieve the objectives of your project. Involvement can be demonstrated in different ways, for instance through a full partner, a subcontractor or providing letters of commitment (for co-financing, contributing to part of the action etc.)

Contact points

21. Find the contact details of your national focal point

In close to 2/3 of all eligible countries, informal national focus points (NCP) exist. These usually have been confirmed by the national ministries to take up the responsibilities linked to being an NCP. Services differ greatly and range from promotion of Eco-innovation to proposal revisions and support during negotiations to project implementation.

Find the list of NCPs here:

Helping with your application

22. Where can I find the application forms?

Submission of proposals takes place using the electronic submission tool SEP. You find the link to SEP here:

Once registered in the system you can download the application forms, which you must fill in, in order to complete your proposal.

The guide for proposers (found on the same website) explains in detail how to complete the information requested in the application forms.

23. Filling in my application form

The technical description of your proposal (Part B) should ideally be submitted in English. Note that the project management, reporting and all communication with the EACI will have to be in English. If the proposal is written in another EU language, you must translate the summary into English, and preferably include an English summary of all sections of Part B. A submission in a non-EU language is not possible.

Please note that the application forms and the Guide for proposers are only available in English, while the Call for Proposals is available in English, French and German.
Slides of presentations held at national info days on funding areas and with some tips on how to apply for funding might be available in different languages on the website (

24. What is the PIC code?

The Participant Identification Code is a unique code for the identification of legal entities throughout European funding programmes. The creation of a PIC is obligatory for all CIP Eco-innovation applicants, including project partners. It does not need to be validated by the time of submission of the proposal, only once your project has been selected for funding.
Participants, whose PIC is already validated, do not have to submit their legal and supporting documents, they just need to include their PIC number. Just in case that information is outdated, please update you participation profile.
If you do not yet have a PIC, please follow this link to CORDIS:

25. Do you offer pre-screening checks for my project proposal?

Only once during the preparation of your project may you send us a short description (max 2 pages) of your project to receive general guidance and feedback until two weeks before the call closes (so until 22 August 2013). In order to ensure fair and equal treatment of all proposers, only general, non-committing guidance will be given.
We will not comment a second time on a revised version of a project outline to guarantee fair and equal treatment of all.

Please send your request to the enquiries mailbox: Please indicate the related priority area (Materials recycling, Sustainable building products, Food and drink sector, Water, Greening businesses or Others)

26. How many points do I need to have my proposal accepted?

There are 5 award criteria according to which your proposal will be assessed - see call for proposals.

For each criterion you need to reach a minimum threshold: 7 points of 10 for the first one and 6 points of 10 for the other four.

In addition you need to reach a minimum of 34 points of 50 in total.

If you just reach 34 points, funding is not assured either, as there is usually an insufficient budget to fund all successful proposals. A reserve list is being set up, so that we can fund more listed projects when more budget become available.

27. When can we expect to hear if we were successful/feedback?

Usually the whole evaluation process is finished in February. Coordinators are informed of the results by email at the beginning of March. For the exact planning, please see the call text.

Understanding the grant

28. What does a 50% grant mean?

Each project can receive a maximum EU contribution of 50% of its total eligible costs (the “grant”). This means that the funding rate per participant can be higher or lower, as long as the total requested funding from the EU does not exceed 50% of the total eligible costs of the project.

A grant does not have to be paid back like for instance a loan. But the remaining 50% have to be co-funded. They can come from your own resources, from other private or public sources or from income generated through the project. If it comes from income, it is important your project is not profitable during the project lifetime - please see our financial guidelines on generating income:

29. What is the grant agreement?

"Grant agreement" is the official name of the contract you will sign, should your project be selected for funding. It lays down the rights and obligations of both contracting parties. You can find a model grant agreement on our website (
Please note that the clauses of the grant agreement are standard, applicable to all beneficiaries, and not subject to negotiation.

30. What is the minimum/maximum grant I can apply for?

There is no formal minimum or maximum amount for the grant. On average an Eco-innovation project has an approximate budget of € 1.6m (=€ 800.000 EU funding).

Note that if you have a project much smaller in size, you will compete with proposals that might achieve much bigger environmental impacts and that have a wider market uptake.

On the other hand, if you have a project much bigger in size, you must consider that the total budget for the 2013 call is around € 32m, covering 37 countries.

Recoverable costs

31. Can project management costs or other core project tasks be subcontracted?

Core project tasks (including project management) should be carried out by the consortium partners. However, certain services related to the project (up to a maximum of 35% of total eligibility cost) may be subcontracted to external partners provided that they are specialists who can offer the service in question and the contract is awarded in accordance with the grant agreement. Subcontractors should be selected in a transparent way, on the basis of the best value for money, taking price and quality into consideration. In general, three offers should be requested, and this should be documented.

32. What are indirect costs and what is the rate?

Indirect costs (sometimes called overhead costs) are intended to cover costs which are needed to employ, manage, accommodate and support personnel working on the project (e.g. room rental, secretariat, PCs, printers, electricity, gas etc.). They shall be eligible for a flat-rate funding of 7 % of the total amount of eligible direct costs for the Eco-innovation projects.

For more information, please refer to the Guide for Proposers (

33. What is the travel flat rate?

There are two options to claim travel costs for Part C of your proposal (you will have to choose the correct file when downloading the application forms).

a) Travel costs as direct costs: You plan exactly how many national and international trips you will need for each partner and how long they will take. Then you estimate the travel and subsistence rates per partner and an automatic calculation will be done in the xls-file for Part C.

b) Travel flat rate model: If you choose this model, travel costs are simply calculated as a 4% flat rate on total eligible direct costs.

Please see the guide for proposers for more information

Have a look at our projects database EU Eco-innovation Action Plan

Last update: 08/01/2015 | Top