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Innovation fund

ZABALA and VITO join forces to support businesses with future Innovation Fund calls

ZABALA Innovation and VITO have agreed to cooperate in providing support services to applicants who plan to apply to the next Innovation Fund calls, promoted by the European Commission, DG Clima.

The Innovation Fund was launched in 2020, as a new instrument aimed at funding innovative low-carbon technologies. €10 bn will be invested until 2030 in innovative projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The funds come from the European Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) through the auctioning of 450 million allowances, as well as an unspent budget from the Innovation Fund’s predecessor, the NER 300 programme.

Two types of calls have been put in place: large and small-scale projects. Large-scale projects are innovative projects that have a CAPEX superior to €7.5 million. 70 projects have already been short-listed from the first call, closed on the 29th of October 2020. These projects have until the 23rd of June to complete their application and have a chance to receive funding. Projects with a CAPEX below €7.5 million applied for the first time in March 2021, the evaluation results will be known at the end of the summer.

For the first large-scale call, ZABALA supported the applications of 15 projects and advised many more project ideas that did not pass the “crash test” offered to clients by ZABALA to evaluate each idea. The same thing happened with the small-scale call that closed in March, for which ZABALA helped 13 projects present their applications.

VITO provided technical expertise for both the large and the small-scale call in very specific areas, such as the calculation of the avoided GHG emissions for innovative processes, the degree of innovation and the techno-economic evaluation.

The Commission evaluates the projects (small or large) according to 5 criteria: 1. How effective is each project is in avoiding GHG emissions; 2. The degree of innovation of the project; 3. The project maturity; 4. The scalability of each project; 5. Whether it is cost-efficient or not.

The chances to receive funding through the Innovation Fund are slim. It is expected that only 5% of the projects that applied to the first stage of the large-scale call will obtain funding. Many projects must grow in maturity and better evaluate how much GHG emissions they could avoid. That is why ZABALA and VITO have agreed to cooperate in providing support services to applicants for future Innovation Fund calls to increase their chances of becoming winners.

ZABALA will focus on supporting applicants to prepare their application. The process for applying to Innovation Fund calls is particularly complex, as each application requires a large number of documents and an adequate structure of the information. Having already supported 28 projects in the first two calls, ZABALA Innovation has gained strong expertise.

VITO can support projects that require further technical advice. VITO’s expertise includes calculations of GHG emissions, which is particularly complex for industry projects. The research centre also assists with developing a GHG avoidance monitoring plan to follow the project performance during its lifetime and can advise on the actual degree of innovation of projects, dealing, for instance, with industrial processes or Carbon Capture, Storage and Use (CCS-CCU). VITO is also proposing to help projects for the techno-economic evaluation linked to their cost-efficiency, particularly CCU, bioeconomy and hydrogen projects.

This cooperation aims to improve the chances of project success. Should you wish for more information, contact Marie Latour from ZABALA Innovation and Arnoud Lust from VITO.