What is the Fast Track to Innovation?
The Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) pilot is the only measure in Horizon 2020 that provides funding for close to market, business driven projects, that is open to proposals in any area of technology or application. This thematic openness – combined with the possibility for all kinds of innovation actors to work together and deliver innovation onto the market and/or into society – should nurture trans-disciplinary and cross-sector cooperation. Unlike the SME Instrument or the Eurostars programme, it is not restricted to SMEs but it does require strong business involvement. The aim is to reduce time from idea to market, stimulate the participation of first-time applicants to EU research funding and increase private sector investment in research and innovation.
Who can participate in FTI?
Proposals for funding must be submitted by consortia comprising between three and five legal entities established in at least three different EU Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020. Actions funded under the pilot are to be ‘business-driven’ because they are intended to give promising innovation ideas the last push before entering the market. Therefore, substantial industry involvement in FTI actions will be mandatory to ensure quick market take-up (‘quick’ meaning within a three-year period after the start of the FTI-action). This industry involvement requires:
- either the allocation of at least 60% of the budget to industry participants in the consortium;
- or the presence of a minimum number of two industry participants in a consortium of three or four partners, or of three industry participants in a consortium of five partners.
How will FTI be implemented?
The FTI Pilot will be implemented in 2015 and 2016 with a total budget of €200 million (€100 million per year) across the Horizon 2020 priority “Societal Challenges” and the specific objective “Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEITs)”, without further topical restrictions. The pilot will be implemented through one common and continuously open call, meaning that proposals can be submitted at any time. Proposals will be evaluated and ranked and funding decisions taken after three cut-off dates each year.
Proposals should build on a business plan, and focus foremost on achieving high impact (corresponding to a score of minimum 4 out of 5 during evaluation). As for proposals for other Horizon 2020 innovation actions, “excellence” and “implementation” will also be assessed, but only if the minimum threshold for the “impact” criterion is achieved. Other factors playing a role during the evaluation process will be the size of the budget allocated to industry participants (including SMEs), the number of industry participants and gender balance of the staff representing the consortium in the proposal.
Time-to-grant for participants will be six months at most. As for other innovation actions, EU funding levels are fixed at 70% of the eligible costs1. The indicative EU contribution per action is expected to be between €1 million and €2 million; in duly justified cases, an EU contribution of up to €3 million can be considered.
When will FTI start?
The Fast Track to Innovation scheme will be open for applications as of January 6 2015. Proposals can be submitted at any time as of that date, and they will be ranked following three cut-off dates in 2015: April 29, September 1 and December 1. The three cut-off dates for 2016 will be made public at a later time.
What happens to FTI after 2016?
Continuation of the Fast Track to Innovation beyond 2016 will depend on the results of an in-depth evaluation of the pilot scheme.
See more here -> EUROPA – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – First Horizon 2020 Work Programme update – launch of FTI and innovation prizes.