Work packages are an integral part of EIC Accelerator applications (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2) and are the key to specifying and quantifying the exact use of the grant or blended financing requested (i.e. a combination of grant and equity). Professional writers and grant consultants are well aware of their importance and, as an integral part of the official EIC Accelerator proposal template, they have to be addressed with great care.
What is a Work Package?
A work package is a concrete set of tasks and development plans revolving around a specific deliverable. The EIC Accelerator recommends the use of five work packages in total which should encompass the full project scope and include all developments such as technical, financial and commercial tasks.
The individual work packages should be quantified according to their budget (i.e. separating grant and equity contributions), their timeline (i.e. giving the start and end of tasks and sub-tasks) as well as their respective project managers (i.e. task leaders, contributors, subcontractors).
Furthermore, work packages should be as credible and thought-out as possible since they will become the blueprint of the entire EIC Accelerator project if it is approved and successfully funded by the European Commission (EC). As such, work packages have to be clear, quantified, trackable and specific which allows the future project officers to assess the ongoing project, its adherence to the planned budget and also identify potentially emerging problems.
Why is a Work Package Necessary?
A large development project is separated into multiple work packages to make budgeting, tracking and accountability easier for the responsible party, namely the European Innovation Council (EIC). Without work packages, the EC would not know what the budget of the project is actually used for and the applicant would have an excessive amount of freedom over a large sum of government funds.
The work packages also help the proposal evaluators to assess the Implementation criteria and the overall credibility of the project (read: The Evaluation Summary Report). Since Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) are a key quantifier for the European Union (EU) in identifying the progress of an innovation from idea to market, the work package also helps in validating the overall development timeline and identify a project with short time-to-markets (read: How TRL’s are Funded).
Does a Company Need to Create Work Packages?
Work packages should already be an integral part of any innovation startups internal operations in one way or another since Research and Development (R&D) projects generally require a high degree of planning and careful budgeting. In addition, business plans and investors often require information on the use of funds which is why such information is likely already existing internally.
There are cases where a startup or Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) is looking for funding but does not have any quantified work packages yet which is a warning sign that the EIC Accelerator might not be a suitable financing avenue. If development plans are non-existent then this either means that the project is not innovative enough (i.e. no significant R&D) or that it is too early stage to be considered close-to-market.
A third option and also a very common case is a semi-complete work plan whereas a general vision has been developed internally but it lacks specific tasks, quantification and a clear timeline. This is often the case with startups who have an adaptable technology that can be applied in a variety of places and where the required funding source determines the path to take.
Such a preliminary plan can easily be edited and improved to match the EIC Accelerator scope and should not exclude an innovative company from submitting a proposal to the next deadline. If a previous application has been submitted but rejected with a low Implementation result, the work packages are a priority to review and edit before a re-submission is performed.
Specific and Quantified
While less relevant for the pitch interview, the proposal will need to specifically describe all of the expected tasks and cost factors (read: Pitch deck vs. Proposal). The rule is to quantify and specify as much as possible so that the progress can be tracked on a monthly and even weekly basis. Milestones, the budgeting and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) should correspond to the work package deliverables and the timeline should connect all respective items so that the evaluator is impressed by a comprehensive plan.
Prospect EIC Accelerator applicants should be aware of the types of work packages to include and not confuse feasibility assessment tasks (i.e. FTO, market analysis, etc.) with development tasks (i.e. value chain, technical tasks, certifications, etc.) since only the latter are eligible for the EIC Accelerator. The feasibility of the project (i.e. the former SME Instrument Phase 1) should have already been assessed and described inside the proposal which is why the Implementation should focus on the practical project execution.
- What is a Work Package? A concrete set of development tasks with specific, quantified and traceable outcomes.
- Why is a Work Package Necessary? It helps investors to keep the grant beneficiary accountable and track the budget.
- Does a Company Need to Create Work Packages? They should already be existent internally but often have to be refined.
- Specific and Quantified: Work packages should be quantified as much as possible and be consistent with other proposal sections.
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These tips are not only useful for European startups, professional writers, consultants and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) but are generally recommended when writing a business plan or investor documents.
Deadlines: Post-Horizon 2020, the EIC Accelerator accepts Step 1 submissions now while the deadlines for the full applications (Step 2) under Horizon Europe are:
- Step 1 (short proposal)
- open now
- Step 2 (business plan)
- 1st cut-off: (early 2024)
- 2nd cut-off: -
- 3rd cut-off: -
- 4th cut-off: -
- Step 3 (interview)
- 1st cut-off: -
- 2nd cut-off: -
- 3rd cut-off: -
- 4th cut-off: January 29th to February 9th 2024 (extended again)
The Step 1 applications must be submitted weeks in advance of Step 2. The next EIC Accelerator cut-off for Step 2 (full proposal) can be found here. After Brexit, UK companies can still apply to the EIC Accelerator under Horizon Europe albeit with non-dilutive grant applications only - thereby excluding equity-financing.
Contact: You can reach out to us via this contact form to work with a professional consultant.
EU, UK & US Startups: Alternative financing options for EU, UK and US innovation startups are the EIC Pathfinder (combining Future and Emerging Technologies - FET Open & FET Proactive) with €4M per project, Thematic Priorities, European Innovation Partnerships (EIP), Innovate UK with £3M (for UK-companies only) as well as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants with $1M (for US-companies only).
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by Stephan Segler, PhD
Professional Grant Consultant at Segler Consulting
General information on the EIC Accelerator template, professional grant writing and how to prepare a successful application can be found in the following articles: