Call addressed to Enterprise Europe Network partners in the EU
1. SHARING ECONOMY IN EUROPE - CONTEXT
With its Communication on the 'European agenda for the collaborative economy1', the Commission recognizes the increasing role of the shared economy creating new opportunities for consumers and entrepreneurs and provided guidance aimed at supporting consumers, businesses and public authorities to engage confidently in the collaborative economy.
2 COM (2010)2020 final of 3 March 2010 “Europe 2020. A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”.
3 Regulation (EU) No 1287/2013 of 11 December 2013 (Official Journal of the European Union L 347/33 of 20.12.2013).
The success of collaborative platforms is at times challenging for existing market operators and practices, but by enabling individual citizens to offer services, they also promote new employment opportunities, flexible working arrangements and new sources of income. For consumers, the collaborative economy can provide benefits through new services, an extended supply, and lower prices. It can also encourage more asset-sharing and more efficient use of resources, which can contribute to the EU’s sustainability agenda and to the transition to the circular economy.
At the same time, the collaborative economy often raises issues with regard to the application of existing legal frameworks, blurring established lines between consumer and provider, employee and self-employed, or the professional and non-professional provision of services. This can result in uncertainty over applicable rules, especially when combined with regulatory fragmentation stemming from divergent regulatory approaches at national or local level. This hampers the development of the collaborative economy in Europe and prevents its benefits from materialising fully. At the same time, there is a risk that regulatory grey zones are exploited to circumvent rules designed to preserve the public interest.
Driven by innovation, new business models have a significant potential to contribute to competitiveness, growth, job creation and well-being. Especially SMEs play a crucial role in reaching the objectives of growth and jobs as indicated in the Europe 2020 Strategy2. Whereas they are considered as crucial engines for growth and job creation, their competitiveness is affected by a limited exploitation of international opportunities, the potential of new business models and innovation prospects in the Single Market and beyond. In this context, the Programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (2014-2020)3, hereinafter referred to as "COSME", aims to promote growth and to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises in the European Union (EU). The Enterprise Europe Network is one of the major actions in the COSME programme to help small businesses increase their competitiveness in the Single Market and beyond.
This call for proposals implements the Pilot Project 'Sharing Economy Start-up initiative – Financing the future of European Entrepreneurship' initiated by the European Parliament and for which the financing decision (budget line 02 02 77 26) was adopted by the Commission on 21 December 2016. 5
1.2. Policy context
Defining the collaborative economy
According to the Commission Communication4 the term "Collaborative Economy" refers to:
Business models where activities are facilitated by collaborative platforms that create an open marketplace for the temporary usage of goods or services often provided by private individuals. The collaborative economy involves three categories of actors:
- service providers who share assets, resources, time and/or skills — these can be private individuals offering services on an occasional basis (‘peers’) or service providers acting in their professional capacity ("professional services providers");
- users of these; and
- intermediaries that connect — via an online platform — providers with users and that facilitate transactions between them (‘collaborative platforms’). Collaborative economy transactions generally do not involve a change of ownership and can be carried out for profit or not-for-profit.
According to the definition from Nesta’s landmark report 'Making Sense of the Collaborative Economy (2014)5', the collaborative economy has five traits:
- enabled by internet technologies
- connecting distributed networks of people and/or assets
- making use of idle capacity of tangible and intangible assets
- encouraging meaningful interactions and trust, and
- embracing openness, inclusivity and the commons.
Building on these traits, Nesta in its briefing paper to the Commission, outlines how the collaborative economy can be understood through four overarching types of activity:
- Collaborative consumption: Gaining access to goods or services through bartering, renting, lending, trading, leasing, exchanging, reselling and swapping.
- Collaborative production: Groups or networks of individuals collaborate to design, produce or distribute goods
- Collaborative learning: Learning experiences that are open to anyone and where people share resources and knowledge to learn together.
- Collaborative finance: Funding, lending and investment services offered outside of traditional financial institutions.
This definition helps to illustrate the range of activities occurring across the collaborative economy, and according to the paper also tends to rely on profit-driven examples.
The emergence of the collaborative economy comes with the spread and revitalization in the past years of powerful discourses about "exchanges", “collaboration”, “participation”, “sharing”, and so on, which are of course not new in human history, but are taking momentum also due to the economic crisis and the need of people to feel connected and access resources in convenient ways.
Joining the collaborative economy can also mean paying more attention to the society. The collaborative economy users, in addition to making and saving money may be motivated to achieve some form of societal impact, driven by the desire to participate in something collective, to contribute to the needs of the social group they belong, as a form of adherence to a path of values.
Therefore, collaborative economy promoting models of community based on membership rather than usage, supporting new initiatives to manage the commons, but also getting the business model transformation opportunities enabled by digital platforms and internet technologies can be a another business model to be developed. This model differs from the cases discussed above, aim to promote exchanges that are more based on solidarity (gift, volunteering, etc), reciprocity and a desire to promote strong ties between people. We may speak of a form of “collaboration” that is “cooperative” rather than “competitive”; it leads to what is called a "coopetition".
However, nowadays the profit-oriented model and the economic value often prevail over the cooperative and social one. Consequently research on such models is limited. Nevertheless, in practice, the number of social economy organizations, such as associations, foundations, mutual societies, cooperatives or social enterprises6 that seek to address social challenges within areas such as health, education and environment, is increasing.
Those platforms are active in numerous areas and various purposes: to avoid food waste, to lower cost of living (from food to transport), to democratise access to knowledge (promoting new skills and creating situations where people come together to learn), to involve citizens in civic participation.
Many collaborative models7 that are more inclusive and solidarity based have emerged in response to local problems and needs. For instance, Internet sharing service Guifi.net emerged in response to insufficient Internet access in rural Spain, platforms like Casserole Club and the Good Gym were created to address urban isolation in London, while ‘Madame Mayor, I have an idea’ is aimed at improving local democracy and citizen participation in the allocation of public funds in Paris. For collaborative finance, crowdfunding is referred to as a powerful tool to not just fund business loans and start-ups, but also for community investment in civic assets and initiatives. In this context, the UK example concept of community shares allows people to use online market places to invest in and own small parts of a community project, such as wind farms or community centres.
Moreover, collaborative modes of production can include open source designs or shared workspaces, where people work together across geographic and expertise boundaries to iteratively create and improve designs for software, housing plans, and other things.
The Commission Communication considers that the collaborative economy is still small but growing rapidly, gaining important market shares in some sectors. Gross revenue in the EU from collaborative platforms and providers was estimated to be EUR 28 billion in 2015. Revenues in the EU in five key sectors almost doubled compared with the previous year and are set to continue expanding robustly. Growth has been strong since 2013 and accelerated in 2015 as large platforms invested significantly in expanding their European operations. Going forward, some experts estimate that the collaborative economy could add EUR 160-572 billion to the EU economy. Therefore there is a high potential for new businesses to capture these fast growing markets. In addition, other types of business can also make significant gains in competitiveness by integrating the sharing economy into business processes and supply chains where appropriate.
The need for scaling-up
For sharing economy business models to function well, the participation of a critical mass of users is required to create the network effect and trigger the scaling-up of the activities. This means that for the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) models, a critical mass of users is needed, whereas for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) models a critical mass of customers is needed to realize a profitable business model. In order to establish this critical mass, and to change the behaviour of the consumers and businesses, support for communication and promotion (for example via events, social media etc.) is essential to get users and stakeholders on board. This is especially hard for start-ups who often lack the resources to simultaneously building-up both the consumer and supplier side.
Start-ups can however benefit from the opportunities in a wide range of markets. They can leverage on a pool of resources owned by peers around the world including assets, skills and financial resources, competing directly with established incumbents (for example in the hotel industry).
Collaborative economy models can adopt a variety of approaches and legal forms, addressing business, social and societal challenges. Many of them are built alongside community or charity groups, public services, or social enterprises. Often, they initiate the community building and develop the collaborative economy models and platforms. Entrepreneurs and businesses adopt the approach to develop or adapt their commercial business models; some operate mixed business models attempting to combine financial sustainability with social motivations.
The need for support
According to a survey from CSCP8, the main barriers faced during scaling-up are: (1) generating reliable revenue streams, (2) lack of financial support for scaling-up, (3) changing consumer's habits and (4) finding right business partners. This is additional to a common barrier on handling the regulatory and policy framework. The same survey indicated that the three main additional services requested by shared economy players concern (1) marketing and communication, (2) new partnerships and (3) financial support.
8 Collaboration Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production
Partnering has been identified as an important step for sustainability and growth, especially with other initiatives from the shared economy because of possible synergies between different sharing models that can be connected or integrated. This is even more likely to happen within the same sector of activity where new business models can tack on to existing ones.
Also partnering with conventional companies has been indicated as a high priority where large conventional companies have existing established relations with customers, suppliers, retailers or 8
various partners as well logistical support. Using shared economy platforms, they can reach out to new types of customers, additional markets or increase their operational efficiency. Start-ups/SMEs in the shared economy can bring flexibility, new views on customer relationships, new trends and changing customer expectations.
Linking-up with social added-value initiatives
Looking beyond economic gains, the collaborative economy can also be a vehicle for addressing societal challenges. As Europe’s collaborative economy grows in size and influence, there is a need to ensure positive impact for participants and society in general. While profit-making companies in the collaborative economy have actively sought to demonstrate their impact and lobby for favourable conditions, comparatively little has been said about the specificities of socially driven initiatives and platforms.
According to the research by Nesta9, recommendations to support and encourage the development of Europe’s social purpose collaborative economy include:
- Identification of barriers to the uptake of social purpose collaborative economy models, and how they can be addressed.
- Investment in infrastructure solutions that make it easier for organisations to engage with and use collaborative models to address social challenges.
- Capturing and spreading best practice across Europe and promoting collaboration between collaborative economy practitioners and movements/organisations with a social mission.
- Building on this, investment in supporting infrastructures such as common infrastructures for training and skills development, spaces and other forms of support to enable more people and organisations to develop the skills and capacity needed to make the most of collaborative economy models.
- Funding for research and pilots that develop an understanding of both the social and financial impacts of social purpose models and that establish metrics for measuring impact more systematically.
The role of Enterprise Europe Network helping entrepreneurs overcome obstacles
Enterprise Europe Network partners help businesses at all stages of their lifecycle to increase their competitiveness in the Single Market and beyond. The Network provides a wide range of services helping SMEs to access market information, overcome legal obstacles and identify potential business and technology partners across COSME participating countries and beyond. Network partners advise SMEs on funding opportunities, provide innovation services and encourage these businesses to participate in EU Research Framework Programmes.
This pilot project can serve as an excellent basis for Network partners to cooperate with stakeholders in the collaborative economy and identify European SMEs and social economy players with potential to participate in the shared economy within their respective regions. They will help small businesses develop successfully their activities through capacity building. They shall link up with local and regional stakeholders active in the sharing economy, and especially with collaborative economy platforms, to effectively identify and help develop new initiatives, build a relationship and introduce Network innovation and internationalisation services when appropriate, such as advisory services, partnering and support on access to finance.
The Network will use its existing assets, tools and expertise to bring together all relevant stakeholders and facilitate exchange of good practices, knowledge, transfer of skills and help finding financial resources and partners.
2. OBJECTIVE OF THE CALL
2.1. Objectives of the action and expected results
The action is addressed to the Enterprise Europe Network partners in the EU and the main objective is to identify and link-up with collaborative economy platforms, exchange experience with all relevant stakeholders and help European SMEs and social enterprises with high-growth potential and other relevant actors to use the possibilities of the shared economy10. The Network will help them to scale up their activities through capacity building and providing support to overcome obstacles.
To this aim, Network advisors will be appointed to (1) identify and select those European SMEs and social enterprises with high-growth potential and ability to benefit from the shared economy based on an assessment of their needs and potential risks, (2) link-up and establish strong cooperation with existing or new initiatives for shared platforms at regional, national or EU level, (3) organisation and documentation of events to discuss the development of the collaborative economy in Europe, (4) provide them with training and coaching services and guide them on the strategy and approach to develop their business based on their specific needs, and (5) connect them to the right service by providing advisory services, innovation and internationalisation services, and signposting to specialised service providers.
The scope of the action is European, and therefore all foreseen activities shall target SMEs and collaborative economy initiatives in the EU by making the most of the opportunities available within the EU Single market. All actions implemented to support companies at local, regional and national levels shall be considered relevant, and as a consequence eligible, as far as it concerns the necessary steps in assisting enterprises and collaborative economy initiatives growing in Europe.
The action shall concentrate on the particular needs of European companies and collaborative economy initiatives with a high potential for scaling-up that are currently not addressed by the Enterprise Europe Network. It shall be as such complementary to the services provided by the Enterprise Europe Network via their COSME workprogramme, however capitalising on the experience, capacity and good practices available in the Enterprise Europe Network where possible.
The expected results of the action shall consist of:
A mapping of the collaborative economy initiatives and platforms available in the regions, to identify the main players for supporting the sharing economy.
The organisation and documentation of events to discuss the development of the collaborative economy in Europe.
Assessment of the needs of SME and social enterprises with a high potential to grow and facilitating the integration of their activities with these collaborative platforms.
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2.2. Range of activities
WP 1: Mapping of collaborative economy initiatives
Selected Network organisations should identify the main players, new initiatives and actors in the regions they cover. Key stakeholders should be identified within a wide scope among local and national governments, corporates, academia, media, etc. as well as SMEs and social economy enterprises. An indication shall be given on the economic and social added value for commercial initiatives as well as initiatives with a clear social added value.
Special attention shall be given to the stage of development for collaborative initiatives and platforms differentiating between:
- Initial ideas with a potential for further development;
- Collaborative platforms that have already active participants at the regional level;
- Collaborative platforms that reached maturity with participating organisations who have a clear and proven business model using these platforms
Potential for geographical expansion
The mapping shall also include an indication of the potential to implement and expand the identified initiatives and platforms to other regions, using the proven business models in place. This shall be done especially for the regions covered by the selected consortia.
Potential for cross-sectoral expansion and social aspects
The mapping shall also assess if there is a potential for the identified relevant initiatives, platforms and business models to be used as basis for a platform for other sectors of activity or other types of businesses.
For this work package, the consortia should provide a report indicating who are the major players identified and their characteristics in the regions covered, with a special attention for platforms where businesses are actively involved and their potential for expansion. The report should also assess the social aspects of the identified platforms and potential for cross-sectoral or geographical expansion.
WP 2: Organisation of targeted events
Selected consortia shall organise events to gather the stakeholders identified, including the main players identified during the mapping, organisations or entrepreneurs initiating new initiatives, businesses with a potential for participation in the shared economy and local or regional authorities with an interest for local initiatives and platforms.
These events are an occasion for all local stakeholders to exchange experiences and can include topics such as:
- priorities and initiatives from local / regional authorities
- bottlenecks perceived by the various stakeholders
- challenges for business and especially SMEs, including social enterprises
- discussion and advice on what needs to be done
- the social added value for shared economy platforms
- successful business models, including for social enterprises
- success stories and typical risks for failure
- exchange of experiences between stakeholders from different regions
- taxation obligations for providers and platforms
- advice for public authorities at regional/national/EU level, feedback on how the business environment for this sector can be enhanced and advice on how authorities themselves can stimulate the collaborative economy (eg via innovative procurement ), and take advantage of the collaborative economy in other ways for achieving their policy goals. Such events should be an opportunity to inform public authorities that e-platforms managed in an inclusive, democratic and solidarity way are a key instrument to deliver social impact.
Consortia are encouraged to organise these events in a bottom-up approach and may include a survey amongst stakeholders if they consider this useful.
The consortia shall provide a report with the outcomes and recommendations gathered from the various stakeholders, and which can be used as feedback for public authorities.
WP 3: Identification, needs assessment and customized advice
For the purpose of this pilot project, the selected consortia shall focus on those entrepreneurs, companies and relevant stakeholders with a potential and ambition for participation and scaling-up their business exploiting the opportunities in the shared economy.
One of the challenges of this specific action is the identification of the right entrepreneurs, companies or stakeholders to benefit from the support available.
Characteristics of the target group
SMEs with high but realistic growth ambitions and potential for market expansion driven by innovation in the broad sense (technological, knowledge-based, business- or service-oriented, etc.);
SMEs willing to exploit the collaborative economy to commercialise a new product/service, innovate an existing one, or to enhance their business processes, the way they interact with suppliers and customers creating opportunities for enhancing their competitiveness and further growth;
Social enterprises ready for launching or developing their business model outside their local environment;
Other relevant entrepreneurs and stakeholders with a potential to contribute to the development of the shared economy
The activities proposed under this action should be specifically designed and delivered, addressing the needs of this target group, distinctive and additional to the services provided by the Network as part of the grant agreements already in place.
The initial needs assessment of the target group identified in the consortium's regions shall be the first and most important step where the proposed Network staff is encouraged, if appropriate, to use
the tools and practices already in place within Enterprise Europe Network (questionnaires, audits etc.).
To guide the target group, participating Network organisations shall appoint specialised staff to address the specific needs. These Network advisors shall accompany them under this action using the expertise built up in the other standard activities of the Network as well as linking them to other more relevant and often more specialised support.
The tasks of the Network advisors within the scope of this action shall be:
Mapping and identification of the entrepreneurs, companies and other relevant stakeholders and actors with potential for scaling-up their business and with ambition to exploit the opportunities in the collaborative economy;
Needs assessment of the target group;
Capacity building for the target group through training, coaching and mentoring to prepare them for the shared economy, inform them on different possible business models, including the social enterprise one, and review of their business model for this purpose;
Provision of customised advisory and partnering services to the target group, i.e. on access to finance, EU legislation, access to markets, partnering opportunities, (partner search, including partnership for incorporating collaborative economy models/services into existing business processes and value chains), taxation,…
Network advisors are encouraged to provide the necessary support, relying on the best practices available. However, since the area is highly specialised, they can involve external expertise (for example with experience in business modelling) in the implementation of the action as subcontractors. A Thematic Group of Network sharing economy advisors may be created who can share best practices and information, and cooperate with each other from their home office (using intranet facilities or phone/email). They can also consider the organisation of joint activities and events involving Network partners participating in this action.
The possibility to rely on human resources with the right experience and skills to accompany the target group is of key importance and Network advisors will be expected to provide advisory services addressing the needs identified in the initial assessment. They will rely on the services, tools and best practices available in the Network where possible, and may involve or help find the right specialised external expertise if needed. For this purpose they may for example subcontract certain activities to collaborative economy experts.
The advisory services to be provided will depend on the outcomes of the initial assessment, below follows a non-exhaustive list of possible activities:
- Exchange information on proven business models using the opportunities of the sharing economy;
- Facilitate contacts with stakeholders, especially with collaborative economy platform operators as well as social economy key players;
- Inform the target group about new initiatives that may be interesting for them;
- Provide advice on applicable EU legislation (consumer protection, labour,…), local/national legislation and possible constraints;
- Network with EEN partners in other countries to advise SMEs, including social enterprises on best practices or success stories from other EU Member States;
- Organise boot-camps in the region to encourage new start-up activity for the shared economy;
- Find experienced partners (even big companies could be considered), facilitating commercial, technological and research & innovation cooperation for the collaborative economy;
- Provide information on IT open source solutions to establish, operate and manage collaborative platforms in different legal forms;
- Provide advice on taxation obligations and payments;
- Documentation of solutions for insurance for platform operators and service providers;
- Access to finance: inform or advise the target group on access to finance for exploiting opportunities, including alternative sources of financing such as crowd funding; consortia are advised to follow the guidelines and best practices prepared by the EEN Working Group on access to finance for basic and advanced level services.
Consortia will provide the methodology used to identify and assess the needs of the target group and provide an overview of the services they plan to provide.
2.3. Work programme
The principles of excellence, proximity of services as well as the 'no-wrong-door' principle and mechanisms of effective signposting and follow-up of the target audience shall apply in the implementation of this action.
The proposed work programme of each consortium will set out the objectives to be achieved and the means to be used. The proposal shall include quantitative and qualitative information on the activities to be carried out and their expected impact.
This Pilot Project initiated by the European Parliament is addressed to the members of the EEN who have a Framework Partnership in place and who are located in the Member States of the EU.
The purpose of this call is to select consortia with EEN partners from at least 4 EU Member States.
The identified target group that will be served in this action shall belong to the geographic region covered by the consortium.
Structure of the work programme
The work programme submitted in response to this call must include a description of the activities presented in section 2.2 above, including a corresponding estimated budget.
In addition to the activities listed above, Network partners shall document success stories showcasing the benefit and added value of the Network in relation to the collaborative economy.
WP 1: Mapping of collaborative economy initiatives
- Report indicating who are the major players identified and their characteristics in the regions covered, with a special attention for platforms where businesses are actively involved and their potential for expansion. The report should also assess the social aspects of the identified platforms, the different legal forms they can take (collaborative economy promoting models of community based on membership rather than usage) and potential for cross-sectoral or geographical expansion.
WP 2: Organisation of targeted events
- The consortia shall provide a report with the outcomes and recommendations gathered from the various stakeholders, and which can be used as feedback for public authorities.
WP 3: Identification, needs assessment and customized advice
- Consortia will provide the methodology used to identify and assess the needs of the target group and provide an overview of the services they plan to provide.
The consortium's performance in this call for proposals shall be measured on the basis of the following indicators:
1) Number of collaboration platforms with whom (initial) cooperation has been facilitated in the context of this project
2) Number of identified and assessed entrepreneurs, companies and relevant stakeholders
3) Number of trained / coached / mentored / serviced entrepreneurs, companies and relevant stakeholders
Success stories will show the positive effects of Enterprise Europe Network activities and services on stakeholders in general, and companies in particular; this will be a primarily qualitative assessment. It is expected that at least three success stories per consortium will be published.
Monitoring and reporting
Monitoring and reporting shall be carried out at partner/consortium level, where the consortium coordinator has the responsibility for providing the necessary data to the Commission. The objectives of monitoring and reporting are:
For project management
o To verify whether the work done justifies payment of the stated costs;
o To justify the good use of funds and secure co-funding;
o To enhance performance and stimulate continuous improvement of the services provided.
For external communication
o To gather key consolidated data showing the main outputs of the project.
Scheduled start-up date for the action: September 2017
Maximum duration of action is: 24 months
No applications will be accepted for projects scheduled to run for a longer period than that specified in this call for proposals.
The period of eligibility of costs will start at the earliest on the day the agreement is signed by the last of the parties. If a beneficiary can demonstrate the need to start the action before the agreement is signed, the expenditure may be eligible as from a date before the agreement is signed. Under no circumstances can the eligibility period start before the date of submission of the grant application.
a) Publication of the call
b) Deadline for submitting applications
20 April 2017
17:00 Brussels time
c) Information to applicants
d) Signature of grant agreement or notification of grant decision
e) Starting date of the action/ work programme
4. EU FINANCING
Maximum budget allocated for EU financing under this call: € 2.000.000
Indicative number of projects: 5
Maximum EU financing rate of eligible costs: 90%
Maximum EU financing amount per project: € 400.000
Proposals with an EU co-financing beyond any of the above two maxima will not be eligible.
The Commission reserves the right to award a grant of less than the amount requested by the applicant. In such a case, applicants will be asked either to increase their co-financing, propose other co-financing means or to decrease the total costs without altering the substance of the proposal. Grants will not be awarded for more than the amount requested.
Publication of the call (on the Commission Internet site and/or in the Official Journal) does not guarantee the availability of funds for the above action.
4.1. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF EU FUNDING
Each action may give rise to the award of only one grant from the budget to any one beneficiary.
In no circumstances shall the same costs be financed twice by the Union budget.
Applicants have to inform the Commission immediately of any multiple applications and multiple grants relating to the same action. The applicant shall inform about sources and amounts of EU funding received or applied for the same action or for part of the action. Applicants shall indicate if they receive EU funding for their functioning during the financial year in which the action takes place.
No grant may be awarded retrospectively for actions already completed.
A grant may be awarded for an action which has already begun, provided the applicant can demonstrate the need to start the action before the grant agreement is signed. In such cases, costs eligible for financing may not have been incurred prior to the date of submission of the grant application.
Grants shall involve co-financing, which implies that the resources necessary to carry out the action or the work programme shall not be provided entirely by EU contribution. EU financing may not cover 100% of the total costs of the action.
Co-financing of the action or of the work programme may take the form of:
the beneficiary's own resources,
income generated by the action or work programme,
financial contributions from third parties.
EU grant may not have the purpose or effect of producing a profit within the framework of the action of the work programme of the beneficiary.
Where a profit is made, the Commission is entitled to recover the percentage of the profit corresponding to the EU contribution to the eligible costs actually incurred. For this purpose, profit shall be defined as a surplus of the receipts over the eligible costs incurred, when the request for payment of the balance is made.
The estimated budget of the action or work programme is to be attached to the application form. It must have revenue and expenditure in balance.
The budget must be drawn up in euros.
Applicants, who foresee that costs will not be incurred in euros, are invited to use the exchange rate published on the Infor-euro website available at http://ec.europa.eu/budget/contracts_grants/info_contracts/inforeuro/inforeuro_en.cfm.
4.2. ELIGIBLE COSTS
In order be eligible for funding, costs should be actually incurred by the beneficiary and meet the following criteria:
they are incurred during the duration of the action or work programme, as indicated in the grant agreement, with the exception of costs relating to the request for payment of the balance and the corresponding supporting documents (audit certificates);
they are indicated in the estimated budget of the action or work programme;
they are necessary for the implementation of the action or of the work programme, in accordance with the description of the action, attached to the grant agreement;
they are identifiable and verifiable, in particular being recorded in the accounting records of the beneficiary and determined according to the applicable accounting standards of the country where the beneficiary is established and according to the usual cost accounting practices of the beneficiary;
they comply with the requirements of applicable tax and social legislation;
they are reasonable, justified, and comply with the principle of sound financial management, in particular regarding economy and efficiency.
The beneficiary's internal accounting and auditing procedures must permit direct reconciliation of the costs and revenue declared in respect of the action/project with the corresponding accounting statements and supporting documents.
Please note that the exact scope of the eligibility of costs is defined by the grant agreement, which will be signed with the successful applicants.
4.2.1. Eligible direct costs
Direct costs of the action are those specific costs which are directly linked to the implementation of the action and can therefore be attributed directly to it. They shall not include any eligible indirect costs.
The following categories of costs can be considered as eligible direct costs:
the costs of personnel working under an employment contract with the beneficiary or an equivalent appointing act and assigned to the action, comprising actual salaries plus social security contributions and other statutory costs included in the remuneration, provided that these costs are in line with the beneficiary's usual policy on remuneration. Those costs may also include additional remunerations, including payments on the basis of supplementary contracts regardless of the nature of those contracts, provided that they are paid in a consistent manner whenever the same kind of work or expertise is required, independently from the source of funding used.
salary costs of the personnel of national administrations to the extent that they relate to the cost of activities which the relevant public authority would not carry out if the project concerned were not undertaken.
costs of travel and related subsistence allowances, provided that these costs are in line with the beneficiary's usual practices on travel;
the depreciation costs of equipment or other assets (new or second-hand) as recorded in the accounting statements of the beneficiary, provided that the asset has been purchased in accordance with the conditions applicable to implementation contracts and that it is written off in accordance with the international accounting standards and the usual accounting practices of the beneficiary
costs of consumables and supplies, provided that they are purchased in accordance with the conditions applicable to implementation contracts;
costs arising directly from requirements imposed by the grant agreement (dissemination of information, specific evaluation of the action, audits, translations, reproduction), including the costs of requested financial guarantees, provided that the corresponding services are purchased in accordance with the conditions applicable to implementation contracts;
costs entailed by subcontracts, concluded for the externalisation of specific tasks or activities which form part of the action or workproramme as described in the proposal, provided that the conditions with the conditions applicable to implementation contracts are met;
costs of financial support to third parties, in accordance with the conditions set by the grant agreement for such financing;
duties, taxes and charges paid by the beneficiary, provided that they are included in eligible direct costs, and unless specified otherwise in the Agreement.
costs relating to a pre-financing guarantee lodged by the beneficiary of the grant, where that guarantee is a condition for the payment of a pre-financing;
4.2.2. Eligible indirect costs
A flat-rate amount of 7% of the total eligible direct costs of the action is eligible under indirect costs, representing the beneficiary's general administrative costs which can be regarded as chargeable to the action/project.
Indirect costs may not include costs entered under another budget heading.
Indirect costs are not eligible for beneficiaries that receive an operating grant from the European Commission.
4.2.3. Non-eligible costs
In addition to any other costs which do not fulfill the conditions set out in Article II.19.1, the following costs shall not be considered eligible:
return on capital;
debt and debt service charges;
provisions for losses or debts;
costs of transfers from the Commission charged by the bank of a beneficiary;
costs declared by the beneficiary in the framework of another action receiving a grant financed from the Union budget (including grants awarded by a Member State and financed from the Union budget and grants awarded by other bodies than the Commission for the purpose of implementing the Union budget);
in particular, indirect costs shall not be eligible under a grant for an action awarded to a beneficiary which already receives an operating grant financed from the Union budget during the period in question;
contributions in kind from third parties;
excessive or reckless expenditure;
participation by any staff of the institutions in actions receiving grants
any other costs which have been specified as ineligible in the call for proposal
In addition to the above, the Commission can refuse to finance certain costs included in the proposal. The beneficiary can decide to maintain and finance these costs out of his own resources, but they will not be taken into account as eligible costs.
4.3. CO-FINANCING AND JOINT AND SEVERAL RESPONSIBILITY
The beneficiary has to supply evidence of the co-financing provided. It can be provided either by way of own resources, or in the form of financial transfers from third parties.
In case of a joint application, all partners shall agree upon appropriate arrangements between themselves for the proper performance of the action.
In particular, the beneficiaries are jointly and severally liable for repaying any debt under the grant agreement up to the maximum amount of the grant. The beneficiaries are also jointly and severally liable for interest on late payment, when applicable.
The final grant agreement shall be signed by each applicant. Alternatively it shall be signed by the appointed co-ordinator, provided that a power of attorney has been conferred to this entity (Annex IV of the draft grant agreement).
4.4. IMPLEMENTATION CONTRACTS/SUBCONTRACTING
Where the implementation of the action or the work programme requires the use of contracts (implementation contracts), the beneficiary must ensure that the contract is awarded to the bid offering best value for money or the lowest price (as appropriate), avoiding conflicts of interests and retain the documentation for the event of an audit.
Entities acting in their capacity of contracting authorities shall abide by the applicable national public procurement rules, in the meaning of Directive 2014/24/EU on the coordination of procedures for the award of public work contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts or contracting entities in the meaning of Directive 2014/25/EU coordinating the procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors.
Sub-contracting for the purpose of the action
Sub-contracting refers to contracts concluded for the externalisation of specific tasks or activities which form part of the action or work programme as described in the proposal. Such contracts must satisfy the conditions applicable to any implementation contract and, in addition, the following conditions:
Subcontracting may only cover the implementation of a limited part of the action up to 50% of the eligible costs.
It must be justified having regard to the nature of the action and what is necessary for its implementation;
The proposal should clearly identify the subcontracted activities
Subcontracting does not in any way limit the responsibility of beneficiaries for the implementation of the action. Please note that the beneficiary(ies) should have the necessary capacity to perform the project. Only tasks that are not core business can be sub-contracted to consultants.
It is not necessary to have already selected subcontractors at the time the proposal is submitted. However, cost of contractors not selected in accordance with the applicable rules for procurement will not be eligible.
4.5. FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO THIRD PARTIES
The applications may not envisage provision of financial support to third parties.
4.6. FINAL GRANT AND PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS
The draft grant agreement annexed to this call for proposals specifies the calculation of the final grant and the payment arrangements.
Your attention is in particular drawn to the General Conditions of the grant agreement, where the eligibility of costs is described. Detailed explanations and a description how costs should be budgeted and reported can be found in the Guide for Applicants.
EU grant may not have the purpose or effect of producing a profit within the framework of the action of the work programme of the beneficiary. Where a profit is made, the Commission is entitled to recover the percentage of the profit corresponding to the EU contribution to the eligible costs actually incurred. For this purpose, profit is defined as a surplus of the receipts over the eligible costs incurred by the beneficiary, when the request is made for payment of the balance. Where such a surplus occurs, the Commission is entitled to recover the percentage of the profit corresponding to the EU contribution to the eligible costs actually incurred by the beneficiary.
The Commission may require the beneficiary to lodge a guarantee for grants exceeding € 60 000, based on a risk analysis.
In the event that the applicant's financial capacity is not satisfactory, a pre-financing guarantee for up to the same amount as the pre-financing may be requested in order to limit the financial risks linked to the pre-financing payment.
The financial guarantee, in euro, shall be provided by an approved bank or financial institution established in one of the Member State of the European Union. When the beneficiary is established in a third country, the authorising officer responsible may agree that a bank or financial institution established in that third country may provide the guarantee if he considers that the bank or financial institution offers equivalent security and characteristics as those offered by a bank or financial institution established in a Member State. Amounts blocked in bank accounts shall not be accepted as financial guarantees.
The guarantee may be replaced by a joint and several guarantee by a third party or by a joint guarantee of the beneficiaries of an action who are parties to the same grant agreement.
APPLICATIONS MUST COMPLY WITH ALL OF THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA SET OUT IN THIS SECTION.
5.1. ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS
a) The consortium (i.e. the coordinator plus its partners) must be composed of EEN partners from at least four (4) EU Member States.
b) Applicants eligible to submit a proposal are Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) partner organisations within the European Union that have signed a framework partnership agreement for the Enterprise Europe Network.
c) Several applicants, submitting a joint proposal should choose within their midst a lead organisation, referred to as the coordinator. The coordinator and other applicants must satisfy the same eligibility criteria.
d) Applications must be submitted by a legal person.
e) The participation of the same partner in more than one proposal is not permitted; proposals with a member that participates in more than one consortium submitting a project proposal are not eligible and will be excluded from the call. Therefore applicants are encouraged to take the necessary measures to ensure that their partners will not participate in more than one proposal.
Subject to the eligibility criteria indicated above, the applicants should provide the following supporting documents to establish their eligibility:
private entity: extract from the official journal, copy of articles of association, extract of trade or association register, certificate of liability to VAT (if, as in certain countries, the trade register number and VAT number are identical, only one of these documents is required);
public entity: copy of the resolution or decision establishing the public company, or other official document establishing the public-law entity;
consortium: in addition to the supporting documents referring to their legal status, consortium members will submit letters confirming their participation to the project,
natural persons: photocopy of identity card and/or passport;
entities without legal personality: documents providing evidence that their representative(s) have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf.
5.2. ADMISSIBLE AND ELIGIBLE PROPOSALS
Applications must comply with the following conditions in order to be eligible for a grant:
Applications must be sent no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 9.
Applications must be submitted in writing, using the application form and the electronic submission system, as indicated in the Guide for Applicants.
Applications must be drafted in one of the EU official Languages. If your proposal is not in English, a translation of the full proposal would be of assistance to the evaluators. An English translation of an abstract may be included in the proposal (see Guide for Applicants).
Proposals must be submitted in conformity with the call specifications;
Only projects that are strictly non-profit-making and/or whose immediate objective is non-commercial shall be eligible.
Applications must respect the maximum rate for EU co-financing.
Applications must respect the maximum amount for EU co-financing.
Applications must respect the maximum duration of projects.
Applications must respect the requirements set for the start date.
Applications may not include contributions in kind as part of their co-financing.
Applications may not include financial support to third parties
In this context, will be rejected any project directly or indirectly contrary to EU policy or against public health, human rights, citizen’s security or freedom of expression.
6. EXCLUSION CRITERIA
6.1. EXCLUSION FROM PARTICIPATION
An entity will be excluded from participating in the call for proposals procedure if :
(a) it is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures, where its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, where it is in an arrangement with creditors, where its business activities are suspended, or where it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under national laws or regulations;
(b) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the entity is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the law of the country in which it is established, with those of the country in which the contracting authority is located or those of the country of the performance of the contract;
(c) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the entity is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the applicant belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful conduct which has an impact on its professional credibility where such conduct denotes wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:
(i) fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of selection criteria or in the performance of a contract;
(ii) entering into agreement with other entity with the aim of distorting competition;
(iii) violating intellectual property rights;
(iv) attempting to influence the decision-making process of the contracting authority during the award procedure;
(v) attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the award procedure;
(d) it has been established by a final judgment that the entity is guilty of any of the following:
(i) fraud, within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;
(ii) corruption, as defined in Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, and in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, as well as corruption as defined in the law of the country where the contracting authority is located, the country in which the applicant is established or the country of the performance of the contract;
(iii) participation in a criminal organisation, as defined in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;
(iv) money laundering or terrorist financing, as defined in Article 1 of Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council;
(v) terrorist-related offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;
(vi) child labour or other forms of trafficking in human beings as defined in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;
(e) the entity has shown significant deficiencies in complying with main obligations in the performance of a contract financed by the budget, which has led to its early termination or to the application of liquidated damages or other contractual penalties, or which has been discovered following checks, audits or investigations by an authorising officer, OLAF or the Court of Auditors;
(f) it has been established by a final judgment or final administrative decision that the entity has committed an irregularity within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95.
g) for the situations of grave professional misconduct, fraud, corruption, other criminal offences, significant deficiencies in the performance of the contract or irregularity, the applicant is subject to:
(i.) facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by the Court of Auditors, OLAF or internal audit, or any other check, audit or control performed under the responsibility of an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body;
(ii.) non-final administrative decisions which may include disciplinary measures taken by the competent supervisory body responsible for the verification of the application of standards of professional ethics;
(iii) decisions of the ECB, the EIB, the European Investment Fund or international organisations;
(iv) decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of the Union's competition rules or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law.
(v) decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body.
6.2. EXCLUSION FROM AWARD
Grants will not be awarded to applicant who, in the course of the grant award procedure is:
(a) is in a situation of exclusion established in accordance with Article 106 FR
(b) has misrepresented the information required as a condition for participating in the grant award procedure or has failed to supply that information;
(c) was previously involved in the preparation of procurement documents where this entails a distortion of competition that cannot be remedied otherwise.
6.3. SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
Applicants must sign a declaration on their honour certifying that they are not in one of the situations referred to by filling in the “Exclusion Criteria Form” (form B4)
Administrative and financial penalties may be imposed on applicants, or affiliated entities where applicable, who are guilty of misrepresentation.
By using the “Exclusion Criteria Form” applicants shall declare on their honour that they are not in one of the situations referred to in Articles 106 and 107 of the Regulation (EC, Euratom) n° 966/2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union (Financial Regulation, as amended).
Please note that administrative and financial penalties may be imposed by the Commission on applicants who are excluded in relation to points a) to g) of the form in question.
For grants with a value exceeding € 60 000, the Commission may require further evidence, as indicated in article 143 Rules of Application.
7.1. FINANCIAL CAPACITY
Applicants must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the period during which the action is being carried out or the year for which the grant is awarded and to participate in its funding. The applicants' financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:
For grants of a total value < EUR 60 000:
a declaration on honour
For grants of a total value ≥ EUR 60 000, in addition:
a declaration on honour and,
form B/5 provided for in the submission set, filled in with the relevant statutory accounting figures. Other documents may be submitted if needed (see IV.4 Guide to applicants)
For grants for an action ≥ EUR 750 000 or operating grants ≥ EUR 100 000, in addition:
an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying the accounts for the last financial year available.
In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above threshold regarding audit reports applies per applicant.
In the case of affiliated entities forming together one sole applicant, the above requirements apply to each of the affiliated entity.
7.2. OPERATIONAL CAPACITY
Applicants must show they have the operational (technical and management) capacity to complete the operation to be supported and must demonstrate their capacity to manage scale activity corresponding to the size of the project for which the grant is requested. In particular, the team responsible for the project/operation must have adequate professional qualifications and experience.
In this respect, applicants have to submit:
a declaration on their honour,
the following supporting documents:
curriculum vitae or description of the profile of the people primarily responsible for managing and implementing the operation;
an exhaustive lists of previous projects and activities performed and connected to the policy fields indicated in the call
The selection procedure is described in further detail in the Guide for Applicants.
An evaluation of the quality of proposals, including the proposed budget, will be carried out in accordance with the evaluation criteria set out in annex 3 to this call for proposals.
The evaluation procedure is described in further detail in the Guide for Applicants.
9. SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS
Please note that only electronic submissions are allowed for this call.
Please consult the Guide for Applicants for the modalities of preparing the proposal.
Submission of a grant application implies acceptance of the conditions of the grant agreement, attached to this call.
The deadline for submission of proposals is:
20/04/2017 [17.00:00 Brussels local time]
Contacts between the contracting authority and potential applicants can only take place in certain circumstances and under the following conditions only:
Before the final date for submission of proposals,
At the request of the applicant, the Commission may provide additional information solely for the purpose of clarifying the nature of the call.
Any requests for additional information must be made in writing only to the coordinates stated below.
The Commission may, on its own initiative, inform interested parties of any error, inaccuracy, omission or other clerical error in the text of the call for proposals.
Any additional information including that referred to above will be published on the internet in concordance with the various call for proposals documents.
After the deadline for submission of proposals:
If clarification is requested or if obvious clerical errors in the proposal need to be corrected, the Commission will contact the applicant provided the terms of the proposal are not modified as a result.
If the authorising officer finds that those proposals, which have been listed for award needs limited adaptations to their proposal. In such case, these applicants will receive a formal letter setting out the requested modifications. Any such modifications must stay within the limits of the request. This phase will not lead to a re-evaluation of the proposals, but a proposal might be rejected if the applicant does not wish to comply with the modifications requested.
Contact coordinates for the call:
DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
Unit H2 Enterprise Europe Network and Internationalisation of SMEs E-mail address: grow-cfp-16251-SESME@ec.europa.eu
DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
Directorate H: COSME Programme
Office BREY 06/284, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium
11. DATA PROTECTION
The reply to any call for proposals involves the recording and processing of personal data (such as name, address and CV). Such data will be processed pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data. Unless indicated otherwise, the questions and any personal data requested are required to evaluate the application in accordance with the specifications of the call for proposal will be processed solely for that purpose by unit GROW.H2: Enterprise Europe Network and Internationalisation of SMEs.
Details concerning the processing of personal data are available on the privacy statement at:
Personal data may be registered in the Early Detection and Exclusion System (EDES) if the applicant is in one of the situations mentioned in Article 106 of the Financial Regulation. For more information, see the Privacy Statement on:
Beneficiaries must clearly acknowledge the European Union’s contribution in all publications or in conjunction with activities for which the grant is used.
In this respect, beneficiaries are required to give prominence to the name and emblem of the European Commission on all their publications, posters, programmes and other products realised under the co-financed project.
To do this they must use the text, the emblem and the disclaimer available at http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/communication/services/visual_identity.
If this requirement is not fully complied with, the beneficiary’s grant may be reduced in accordance with the provisions of the grant agreement or grant decision.
With the exception of scholarships paid to natural persons and other direct support paid to natural persons in most need, all information relating to grants awarded in the course of a financial year shall be published on an internet site of the European Union institutions no later than the 30 June of the year following the financial year in which the grants were awarded.
The Commission will publish the following information:
name of the beneficiary;
address of the beneficiary (legal persons) or reference to the region (natural persons);
subject of the grant;
Upon a reasoned and duly substantiated request by the beneficiary, the publication shall be waived if such disclosure risks threatening the rights and freedoms of individuals concerned as protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union or harm the commercial interests of the beneficiaries.
13. ANNEX 1 SUBMISSION SET
The Submission Set is composed of :
- Form B1- B2 Budgetary Forms
- Form B3 - Co-financing statement form
- Form B4 - Exclusion form
- Form B5 - Financial Statement Form
- Form B6 - Description of the project
- Form B7 - Curriculum Vitae
- Form B8 - Professional references
- Form B9 - Miscellaneous
And is available in the eSubmission tool "SEP" – see link in call page.
The Submission Set can be downloaded from the following page: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/contracts-grants/calls-for-proposals/
14. ANNEX 2 GUIDE FOR APPLICANTS
The Guide for Applicants can be downloaded from the following page: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/contracts-grants/calls-for-proposals/