Money is absolutely crucial to develop R&D ideas and projects to valuable products. But how to obtain money without getting a loan from a bank or diluting the ownership by VCs? Surprisingly, there are quite a few options of publicly funded research projects available or even foundations, which provide funding. But it’s not about the money. Funding often requires collaborations or consortia and these relations are in itself very valuable benefits.
These topics and some real industrial examples were presented at the i-net Business Event with Euresearch «Finance your Innovation – non-dilutive funding and support for Startups and SMEs» on Thursday, 08.09.2016 at the Technologiepark Basel. Around 80 people received valuable and inspiring insights from institutions and companies. In a short introduction, Susanne Daniel explained how Euresearch informs, advices and connects in concrete cases about funding opportunities. Please connect to her at susanne. daniel@unibas. ch.
EU-funding is very big in terms of money, but also difficult to get, as Gerhard Gass, National Contact Point for SMEs at Euresearch pointed out. However, participations of SMEs are especially promoted and joining as a valuable partner, e.g. by using the Enterprise Europe Network may be a perfect option. Martin Frauenfelder of Paro AG explained, how his company successfully participated twice in a EU-funded project. Generally, there was a very positive experience, it was remarked as a great way to increase R&D budget and to cooperate. Now, their Flextreme 4.0 robotic platform is a great asset for business success. And the negative point “Running more than one EU-project at the same time is too much for a small company as Paro”, may according to Frauenfelder be rather a minor issue.
More easily to obtain for SMEs are so-called Eurostar projects with success rates of 30-40% as Janique Siffert, Eureka Project Officer explained. There needs to be a collaboration between at least two companies from different EU countries (plus Switzerland) and one university – and the SME itself receives 50% cash for its expenses. Sure, there are some restrictions, e.g. the company must spend more than 10% for their R&D, but otherwise this seemed really attractive. Philipp Anstätt of ChromaCon, explained, that it is really very beneficial including ”very simple and transparent rules and application processes“. For them, it turned out to be not only a great source of money but also an excellent motivation for highly valuable collaborations across European countries.
”What is the best source of for financing new venture or SME?” asked Stefan Blarer, CTI coach. Well, the best is to earn money by selling your first products to customers! The second best is to receive a grant by CTI, which will provide 100% funding to your collaborative university or institute and thereby up to 50% of the overall project costs. The application process is also relatively simple and straightforward and success rates are around 40-50%. In total over 160 m CHF are spent annually by the CTI.
Quite a different approach was explained by Regula Buob, Managing Director of the DeVigier Foundation. Since 26 years, a yearly total of 500’000 CHF is paid out as a prize money to the 5 winning startups. Bill DeVigier, a visionary who started with very little and ended with a fortune, had the idea to support young entrepreneurs. And it is not only about the money, but also about leadership development, a strong network and support with benefits for all nominees.
So, next time when money seems to hinder the development of a great idea, it might worth turning towards one of the above mentioned funding opportunities!