16 Sep 2017
Karostech got a strong boost as Kirsi Mononen joined our team in August. Kirsi is a seasoned expert in science and project management with 20 years background in education, research, development and innovation in universities, research institutes and in private sector. She holds Ph.D. in chemistry and she is a qualified vocational teacher and a qualified member of board, too. Her main areas of expertise are materials chemistry, wood chemistry, bio economy as well as training and RDI funding.
In her field of expertise, Kirsi is a member of expert community extending from SME’s to research organisations and academic institutes. During her career, she has helped projects, businesses and individuals to grow. Kirsi lives in Eastern Finland. She is fluent in Finnish, English and German.
With Kirsi onboard Karostech’s core expertise has widened to bioeconomy and forestry sectors.
We are glad to announce that Karostech’s customer Part-up BV from the Netherlands has been granted with Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 1 funding. Part-up has developed a competence platform – partup.com , which is used for building effective teams by the help of a sophisticated skill matching algorithm. The platform can be implemented by large corporations, universities, start-up accelerators, etc. in order to facilitate more powerful teams and thus boost the innovation potential.
Two other applications assisted by Karostech have received Seal of Excellence given by the European Commission to those companies, whose applications have been evaluated above the qualification threshold, but haven’t got funding due to budgetary restrictions of the specific call or topic. See more information about the Seal of Excellence on the official website of the European Commission:
Karostech is dedicated to work with these customers in order to achieve funding in the upcoming rounds.
Karostech and the leading European SME Instrument fundraiser Inspiralia (Spain) invite you to the Horizon 2020 – SME Instrument event that will take place on Tuesday Nov. 29 at 18:00–21:00 in the Radisson Blue Royal Hotel, Runeberginkatu 2, Helsinki downtown.
Registration to the event: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H5BY5LS.
The SME Instrument is a funding tool under the Horizon 2020 program from the European Commission. Its main target is to make the European Union more competitive and innovative by funding European Innovative SMEs with grants from 0,5 M€ up to 2,5 M€ to help them developing new products and launching them successfully to the market. See more detailed information: http://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/horizons-2020-sme-instrument
In this informative workshop experts from Inspiralia will introduce the funding opportunities from the EC to Finnish Innovative SMEs. The event is co-organized by: Oy Karostech Ltd, Lähienergialiitto (Finnish Clean Energy Association), Urban Mill, ReWork of Work Facebook community, and Kasvusaari Oy. There will be also an opportunity to have a face to face meeting with Inspiralia’s SME Instrument experts on 30.11. at the same venue. Optionally, tue 29.11. before the event is also possible to meet Inspiralia’s expert Guillermo Palacios. Contact Ilkka Kakko ilkka.kakko (at) karostech.fi to book your time.
- Welcome and introduction
- Ilkka Kakko, Karostech
- Pilar Cocera, Inspiralia
- Inspiralia : What we do?
- What is the SME Instrument?
- Structure Phase1-Phase2
- Topics and typical funded projects
- Next opportunity and timeline
- How to know if you are a winner?
- Excellence in the technology
- Market impact
- Inspiralia’s Key Differentiator
- Rigorous Process
- Dedicated teams of experts
- Coctails and snacks
Inspiralia is an international New Product Development Company which helps SMEs bring their innovative products and solutions to the market. Inspiralia offers a 360º innovative development process from validating the idea, finding financing, developing the project into a product within our technical facilities and laboratories as well as launching it to the market. You can have an overview of what we do best in the attached video link: Clip Inspiralia.
At Inspiralia, we are always on the search for innovative ideas that will change tomorrow´s society and the necessary funding to bring these to market. Our results have enabled us to become European Leaders within Horizon 2020’s SME Instrument funding programme:
- Inspiralia has an accumulated success rate for Phase 1 financed proposals of 80%, compared with a 6% European average. Currently we are supporting 182 happy clients with their applications for Phase 2.
- Inspiralia won the 10% of all available SME Instrument Phase 2 funding EU wide for their clients so far, with 33 delighted clients currently executing Phase 2 projects.
06 Oct 2016
We have signed cooperation agreements with two new customers regarding the advisory services. Erik Raita and Ilkka Kakko will be assisting Solixi Oy and Coctio Oy with their Horizon 2020 SME Instrument applications.
Solixi develops innovative solutions in the area of renewable energy, see www.solixi.com.
Coctio is a global pioneer in the industrial bone broth and sauce manufacturing equipment, see www.coctio.com.
New qualification round of SME “Champions League” was closed September 7. Karostech has been assisting four companies to apply for Phase 1 funding by the last cut-off date. In this blog we share some cumulative experience and observations from the recent SME Instrument journeys with our customers.
Horizon 2020 SME Instrument funding is generally considered very beneficial for companies. Indeed, 50 KEUR grant is issued by the European Commission in Phase 1 just for the feasibility assessment and business planning. Furthermore, up to 2.5 MEUR is available in Phase 2 for SME’s with disruptive business ideas having the potential to become global market leaders.
In terms of volume and impact this grant is comparable to venture capital investment, still not diluting the ownership and decision making power of current shareholders.
Sounds like any entrepreneur’s dream! However, since the launch of SME Instrument program, only 328 out of 5388 applications have been approved to Phase 2 funding (after Feb. 2016 cut-off). These figures clarify why the European Commission calls SME Instrument beneficiaries champions playing in the Champions League for European SME’s. So is applying worth of effort, if only 6% of applications get funded?
It’s quite common nowadays that informal application is enough to attract funding. Both public and private investors often make their decisions mainly based on pitching performance. Formal business planning quickly becomes legacy, especially within the agile and hyperdynamic start-up culture. Following very strict and formal requirements of SME Instrument make the application procedure time consuming, which might be mission impossible for many companies due to many practical reasons. First, very few SME’s are so structured in their business planning that filling the application with up-to-date data could be done by copy-pasting from the existing documents. Second, very few entrepreneurs are able to realistically evaluate the business potential of their companies. Typical problems here are either the excessive optimism (“we have unique technology and no competitors”) or too narrow local focus with no clue of global markets. Finally, for most of entrepreneurs spending a month of their time to the application with such a low success expectations feels just unreasonable. There are more important things like, for instance, sales which have direct impact on company’s business. And delegating the responsibility to lower level simply doesn’t work in case of SME Instrument application process.
The founders and management team have to be personally involved in order to make a successful application.
One of our recent customers wondered “how can it be so formal, no entrepreneur has time for this!”. Yep, that’s an opportunity for an external expert to step in and guide the company through the process. Well, it takes the consultant’s time too, but company’s own resources can be used for those “more important” things, in other words for everyday business operations. An effective external expert is able to put together a high quality application after having 3-4 intensive face-to-face meetings with the entrepreneur. All other information can be gathered from public sources, material provided by the company and his own business experience. And yes, it takes at least four weeks time to do it properly from the start to the final submission. Usually, the customer wants the consultant to do the writing. It’s just fine for us, we know how to do it. However, in order to ensure company’s engagement with project’s objectives it’s important to dedicate at least one person in the company, who’s closely involved in the process.
Another important thing to remember is that each application is evaluated by four independent evaluators possibly having very different backgrounds. Some may have academic or technical background, while others may come from finances or business development. The applicant has no chance to make personal impact on evaluators, the evaluation happens based on the written application only. So it has to be well balanced to satisfy evaluators with diverse backgrounds.
A good application can be well compared with the business plan.
In fact, not many start-up or growth companies have such a detailed business plan. Why don’t you get one as an extra bonus!
So is it worth of trouble afterall? NO, if you’re personally not so structured, but still not ready to outsource the process to the external expert.
YES, if A) you feel having real potential to reach Phase 2 funding, B) you consider the point of view of experienced external consultant worth of small investment.
Some of our customers especially appreciated the impact the application process had to streamlining company’s marketing communication. For instance, companies start using parts of application text and figures produced for the application in their marketing. The core message becomes clear and that immediately affects sales. One of the customers said that the company has benefited from the application process no matter what the final result is. However, the positive funding decision will definitely be a nice bonus both for us and the customer. The best thing a consultant can hear after the process is the question whether his services can be further used in the project implementation phase. We hear it each time after the submission is done. Hopefully, in October we’ll face a positive problem, when multiple applications get positive funding decisions.
So far Karostech has made seven applications for five customers, four from Finland and one from The Netherlands. Two out of three have already passed the evaluation and been approved.
Our customers have so far received 2.1 MEUR from the European Commission.
See you in the Champions League!
We have been again actively helping SME’s to attract Horizon 2020 SME Instrument funding from European Commission. Four applications, three from Finland and one from The Netherlands, have been submitted by our customers to the recent Phase 1 cut-off date. Two of them belong to Accelerating market introduction of ICT solutions for Health, Well-Being and Ageing Well topic (SMEInst-06) and two were submitted to Open Disruptive Innovation Scheme topic (SMEInst-01). All four applicants have very good potential to get approved to Phase 1. We’ll publish results by the end of October, so stay tuned!
Erik Raita and Ilkka Kakko have helped a customer company Polarsol Oy to get Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 funding. After signing the Grant Agreement with the European Commission Polarsol will receive 2+ MEUR grant for implementation of the development project aiming at commercialization of its disruptive heat management concept based on the efficient use of the renewable energy.
Polarsol is among five Finnish SME’s approved to Phase 2 during the last application round and still the only one in the North-Karelia region to get H2020 SME Instrument funding. See the full list of beneficiaries here.
23 Nov 2015
Ilkka Kakko was invited by the Minister of Education and Science of Mongolia Mr. Gantamuur to five days visit to Mongolia. The comprehensive program was set up by the personal meeting with the Minister on the first evening and followed by visits in the leading universities and research organizations. During the discussions Ilkka gave several introductory speeches and a full two hour lecture to the students of Mongolian University of Science and Technology about serendipity management. The conclusive remarks were given in an TV interview at ‘Jargal de Facto show’ and one interview in the main national newspaper.
Mongolian hospitality was fantastic and people very friendly, but the innovation system and infrastructure needs urgent renovation. We are looking forward to continue the collaboration in the area of science park development in Mongolia. By implementing our 3GSP model the country has a great opportunity to make a tiger leap towards the science parks of the third generation.