INNOCHEM – grant program for R&D projects in the chemical sector

25/02/16

Let me start this post by saying that I am bursting with pride that PwC was engaged by the Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry to draft the sector study for the INNOCHEM program

I am extremely proud of the entire sector including scientific institutions and enterprises that so actively participated in this program. Thus, what we have received is a challenging and interesting research agenda. What is more, I am proud of the rating INNOCHEM received – one of the best among other sector programs. The same ratings were awarded to INNOTEXTILE and GameINN that were also produced by PwC. I couldn’t be more proud.

As for the oncoming 2016 call for proposals, applications can be submitted to the National Center for Research and Development until 1 March. This call for proposals is open to large enterprises as well as SMEs. The complex sector study and negotiation process was led by the Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry which is the leading institution representing the industry in this program.

The recently announced program has launched a two-year pilot period for the INNOCHEM program. Afterwards, the program will be evaluated and modified if needed.

How about projects?

R&D projects that cover industrial research and/or development works will be eligible. Projects need to include development works as they lead to the creation of a complete technology or product that can be commercialized which is one of the main objectives of the program.

When working on the program, we organized a workshop that produced a research agenda including detailed research problems. Projects submitted in this program need to address these problems. In other words, projects that do not cover these research problems will not be eligible. You may see the full list of the Strategic Areas of Research and Development in our flyer on the INNOCHEM program.

Technical details

Technical details of the program are presented on the infographic below.

What is noteworthy, unlike other calls for proposals organized by the National Center for Research and Development, the INNOCHEM program will also accept applications submitted by consortia of enterprises Although these consortia may include only enterprises, scientific institutions may still be involved on a subcontractor basis.

The minimum value of eligible costs is surprisingly low, as it amounts to PLN 1 M only. This is certainly a tip of the hat to smaller companies. The maximum value of eligible costs amounts to PLN 20 M. The time frame of a project cannot exceed 3 years.

The level of funding will correspond with other programs aimed at supporting R&D. Depending on the size of an enterprise, it will range from 25% to 45% for development works and from 50% to 70% for industrial research. Enterprises may also receive a bonus of 15% (however, an overall level of funding cannot exceed 80%) for a wide dissemination of project results.

I elaborated more on the eligibility of industrial research and TRL terminology in another post

In this program, the eligible costs do not differ from other R&D programs and cover i.a. remuneration of employees, a purchase of materials and a construction of demonstration and pilot lines.

What the assessment will cover

You may find more details in our INNOCHEM flyer I have already mentioned above. The assessment procedure is quite usual. What is assessed in the first place is the formal correctness of a submitted application. Subsequently, an application is evaluated on the basis of the substantive criteria. Projects having the highest scores will then go to an expert panel.

Scored substantive criteria (a total of 23 points):

  • The planned R&D works are adequate and necessary to achieve the goal of a project and its risks have been identified (0-5 points),
  • Research project team and technical resources guarantee the proper implementation of the planned R&D works (0-5 points),
  • The innovation of project results (0-5 points),
  • The market demand for the project results and the profitability of its implementation (0-5 points),
  • The implementation of project results is planned in Poland (0 or 3 points).

At the stage of an individual assessment, projects are assessed by 3 experts. A project may be co-financed if it receives at least 3 points for each of the first four criteria (a project does not need to be implemented in Poland). Overall, a successful project needs to score at least 15 points.

How to get prepared

There is not much time left, as there is only one month to go. At this stage, it might be quite difficult to draft a quality application without having a prior well-considered project concept. The most crucial thing is to draft a structure of a research project which includes a research hypothesis, research tasks and milestones. Please bear in mind that what we discuss here are not engineering projects but R&D ones. The latter ones have its own set of rules.

Even if you have a ground-breaking idea for a project, your project will still be assessed on the basis of the input in your application for a grant. Thus, its quality needs to unquestionably high. The application has to address the main advantages of your idea over other available solutions. Moreover, it needs to be precise and strictly fact-based.

And please accept a piece of my advice – do not give up on any part of the application. Use up available word limits with precise arguments why your project shall receive a better score than many others.

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If you are interested in other programs and details about grants, please visit our website with alerts, video clips and reports.

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