The Seal of Excellence is a quality label, awarded to project proposals submitted for funding under Horizon 2020, which succeeded in passing all of the stringent selection and award criteria, but could not be funded under the available Call budget. The EC by this attempts to help increase the number of promising project proposals receiving funded by certifying them, which can be used as a fast-track access to other funds like regional, national public or private. Official press released can be found here.
How it works
SoE is granted by EC to proposals having scored 13 or above. SoE can then be handed in to eligible regional, national public or private funding bodies that have created special calls that are targeting exclusively at the applicants of the positively evaluated Horizon 2020 proposals, aka. The ‘sealed’ proposals. It is up to the national funding bodies how the proposals will be handled further on, but in most cases we have seen so far, proposals are funded immediately without further evaluation steps, although not always the full amount requested. Some national government have already taken a stand and declaring full support of SoE scheme through funding certified projects through national funds.
“We are very happy about the ‘Seal of Excellence’ initiative”, said Kenneth Junge Hermansen, founding partner of NI. “The reality is that the allocated EC budget for the Dedicated SME-Instrument is significantly limited in order to meet the number of excellent innovation projects submitted across Europe. We are especially pleased that Norway and Finland have implemented the scheme. This is enabling our increasing number of Norwegian and Finnish SME clients’ to come one-step closer to realise their business innovation projects and create growth!“
NorwayNorwegian project proposals having a SoE but not funded by the SME Instrument Phase 1 will be funded by Innovation Norway.
SwedenBuilding on the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument to support its innovation champions
FinlandFinnish proposals with the Seal of Excellence will receive support from TEKES
ItalyThe Region of Lombardy issues vouchers for SMEs that were positively evaluated (but not funded) under Phase 1 of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument
“By implementing national funding to those few projects who get the Seal of excellence, we are not only fund a great project”, said Søren Haslund, founding partner of NI, “an indirect benefit is that we make the SME instrument more attractive and thereby encourage and strengthen Danish innovation and participation in H2020. There are currently so few SME Instrument projects awarded to Denmark each year, and only a few who get above the funding thresholds.
“I ‘tip my hat’ to the countries, accepting to fund applications purely on the basis of the SoE. The benefit for the company is obvious, as it eliminates the need to find, reshape and rewrite the application to fit a national funding agency, with an additional waiting period.
“I feel we should be able to find the money to pay for the Phase 1 projects, and try to analyze the implications for funding phase 2. Why this is not planned and implemented already, is a rant for another day.”