InnoBuyer is an EU-funded project that aims to become a testing ground and benchmark towards the implementation of a demand-driven methodology that brings together public and private organisations (Challengers) and innovative companies (Solvers) to jointly co-create innovative solutions, and speed-up the process leading to a concrete innovation procurement.
The European Innovation Council (EIC) was established by the European Commission in 2021 following a 3-year successful pilot phase. It has a mission to identify, develop and scale up breakthrough technologies and disruptive innovation. It has a budget of over €10 billion for the period 2021-2027.
InnoBuyer is looking for Challengers (public and private organisations) who have unmet needs that require innovative solutions and are looking for funding and expertise to make it possible. Examples of Challengers are healthcare service providers, city halls, etc.
Awarded Challengers will get support from the InnoBuyer consortium to further define their unmet needs and translate them into a challenge that can feed the launch of an open call for innovation suppliers (Solvers). The objective is to find the best Solver for each particular challenge. Then, the best Solvers will be selected to co-create and pilot an innovative solution. If by the end of the process, the solution shows promising results, Challengers will receive legal support to launch an innovation procurement procedure for the wide adoption of the solution.
Solvers are expected to be Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) according to the European Commission definition, with an innovative solution that can solve the Challenger unmet need. The innovative solution might need additional adjustments and improvements to properly meet the problem, which is the aim of the co-creation period between Challenger and Solver.
As a Solver you will:
● Receive up to €58.500 to fund the co-creation period.
● Get access to potential customers of your solution, i.e. Challengers.
● Work hands-on with the Challengers during a 10 month co-creation period.
● Understand how public and private organisations work and how solutions should be commercialised to them.
● If the co-creation is successful, benefit from a higher sales volume if the Challenger decides to launch a tender to buy your solution.
● Gain a first customer reference and increase your reputation when approaching other potential customers.
InnoBuyer brings together procurers and innovation suppliers (notably EIC supported SMEs) to jointly co-create solutions to a common challenge proposed by the procurer, while also facilitating the procurer adoption and the innovation supplier commercialization of the solution.
InnoBuyer programme will be divided into 4 sequential actions:
● Action #1: Identification of challenges
● Action #2: Open Market Consultation and Solver selection
● Action #3: Pilot co-creation
● Action #4: Legal support for tender preparation
InnoBuyer is a 3-year project. The indicative timelines are as follow:
● Call for Challengers (2023)
● Call for Solvers (expected for 2023/2024)
● Co-creation (expected for 2024)
● Legal support for tender preparation (expected for 2024/2025)
Funding is given by the InnoBuyer consortium under a Sub-Grantee Agreement signed by the selected applicants and the InnoBuyer consortium. The funds are given by the European Commission (Horizon Europe programme), which uses InnoBuyer as intermediary.
The aid provided is relying on a cascade-funding scheme involving Horizon Europe. The scheme is based on a Grant Agreement signed by the European Commission and the InnoBuyer Consortium partners. The Consortium partners as such receive the Horizon Europe funds which are then transferred to the winners of the InnoBuyer open calls based on the rules and regulations explained in the Guidelines for Applicants available at our website. This means that funds that will be received by the call winners are Horizon Europe funds.
Cascade Funding, also known as Financial Support to Third Parties (FSTP), is a mechanism of the European Commission to distribute public funds in order to create new companies, increase their scalability, SMEs and / or mid-cap companies, in the adoption or development of digital innovation. The main objective of this financing method is to simplify administrative procedures with SMEs, thus allowing some projects financed by the EU to issue, in turn, open calls to obtain more funding.
The funds of the project come from the Horizon Europe Programme. This means its regulation will apply to the funds. If you get additional public funding from other entities, it will be your responsibility to assure the compatibleness of the different sources of funding.
InnoBuyer invites public (definition according to Article 2 of Directive 2014/24 EC) and private organisations to participate in the Open Call for Challengers.
Only Applicants legally established/resident in any of the following countries are eligible:
● The Member States of the European Union including their outermost regions
● The Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) linked to the Member States
● Horizon Europe associated countries
As described in the Reference Documents and the List of Participating Countries in Horizon Europe according to the latest list published by the European Commission.
The F6S platform is the entry point for all proposals: https://www.f6s.com/innobuyer-call-for-challengers/apply. Submissions received by any other channel will be automatically discarded.
Remember to read the Guidelines for Applicants to get all the information you need to apply successfully.
Applicants should submit only one application, which can include up to four proposals (unmet needs).
If more than four proposals (unmet needs) are submitted through different applications from a single entity, InnoBuyer will only consider the first four proposals submitted.
Applications for the Call for Challengers will close on 31 March 2023 at 17:00, Central European Time (CET).
The Call for Solvers is expected to run in the second semester of 2023.
Each eligible proposal will be evaluated by a set of two experts. The evaluation criteria are:
● Commitment (30%)
● Impact (25%)
● Innovation & Scalability (20%)
● Feasibility (15%)
● Team (10%)
The documents that must be submitted are:
● Application form: administrative questions to be completed directly in the F6S platform
● Annex 2: proposal description which must be completed and uploaded as a .pdf to the F6S platform
As defined in the Glossary section of the Guidelines for Applicants, an unmet need is a preliminary description of a real and specific user or organisational need, that is currently not met and for which a solution is not yet available or widely available on the market. This is what is submitted as a proposal in the Call for Challengers.
A Challenge is an improved version of the initially submitted unmet need, considering inputs from other relevant departments in the organisation such as IT, legal, and management, among others. The aim is to have business-oriented wording that can be appealing and well understood by innovative SMEs when published in the Call for Solvers. This is the result of the work conducted by the awarded applicants in Action 1 of the InnoBuyer programme.
Public and private organisations can submit up to 4 unmet needs proposals to InnoBuyer Call for Challengers. The 15 unmet needs selected will be transformed into a Challenge, during Action 1 (Identification and selection of challenges).
As per section “4-Evaluation Criteria” of the Guidelines for Applicants, the unmet need scalability will be evaluated, considering the number of Challengers who might have a similar need, which would translate into a bigger potential market and business attractiveness for innovation suppliers. Identifying and presenting support letters from other entities (public or private) that share the same need will be valued positively.
InnoBuyer brings together Challengers (public and private organisations) and Solvers (Innovative SMEs) to jointly co-create new solutions, applying a demand-driven and sequential approach in 4 actions:
● Action #1: Identification of challenges – for public and private organisations
● Action #2: Open Market Consultation and Solver selection – for public and private organisations
● Action #3: Pilot co-creation – for public organisations and innovative SMEs
● Action #4: Legal support for tender preparation – for public organisations
According to the Guidelines for Applicants (Section “2.3.4 Action #3 Pilot Co-Creation”) the Challenger and the Solver are expected to co-create a pilot and test the proposed solution.
The Guidelines for Applicants present in Section “18.104.22.168 Expected outcomes” that at the end of Action 4 it is expected that all Challengers will be provided with the Terms of Reference (ToRs) and follow-up strategies for a future adoption. The purchase is not part of the InnoBuyer programme
The evaluation & selection phase is expected to take place from 07 to 21 April 2023. Notification of results will take place by the end of April.
The evaluation of the proposals is carried out by the InnoBuyer Consortium with the assistance of independent experts. InnoBuyer Consortium staff ensures that the process is fair and in line with the principles contained in the European Commission’s rules on Proposal submission and evaluation. Experts perform evaluations on a personal basis, not as representatives of their employer, their country or any other entity. Each proposal is evaluated by a set of at least two experts according to the following criteria:
● Commitment (30%)
● Impact (25%)
● Innovation & Scalability (20%)
● Feasibility (15%)
● Team (10%)
The evaluation of proposals is carried out by the InnoBuyer Consortium with the assistance of independent evaluators. The independent evaluators are experts with various expertise related to the InnoBuyer project. They are required to be independent, impartial and objective, and to behave throughout the evaluation process in a professional manner. They sign an expert contract, including a declaration of confidentiality and absence of conflict of interest, before beginning their work.
Payments will be done in 5 instalments (public Challengers) or 2 instalments (private Challengers), based on concrete results, deliverables and a review of each action.
The maximum amount of funding a public Challenger can get and retain is €41.500. The maximum amounts per action for a public Challenger are the following: Action 1 €10.000, Action 2 €10.000, Action 3 €6.500 and Action 4: €15.000.
The maximum amount of funding a private Challenger can get and retain is €20.000. The maximum amounts per action for a private Challenger are the following: Action 1 €10.000 and Action 2 €10.000.
The maximum amount of funding a Solver can get is €58.500. The maximum amount per action for a Solver is €58.500 in Action 3.
According to the minimis regulation (EC No 1998/2006), InnoBuyer is not a State Aid and therefore the funding does not count as minimis grant.
Payments will be done based on concrete results and not administrative justifications.
Payments will be done based on concrete results and not administrative justifications. However, your costs and funding breakdown will be required to ensure that the funding is used for the right purpose, as well as for traceability and accountability.
The Solver (Innovative SME) selected to co-create a solution for the Public Challenger can get funding support up to 58.500€. This payment will be done directly from the InnoBuyer consortium to the Solver, based on completion of work.
Subcontracting is not encouraged. The general rule applicable to the InnoBuyer project is that the innovative SMEs selected must have the appropriate resources to implement the full set of tasks needed within the project. This means it is not allowed to subcontract key parts of the project. Examples (not restricted to) of subcontracting not desired are, paying an external developer not in the company, paying a research centre or foundation to execute technical tasks, etc. Employees of a company are never considered subcontractors but part of the company itself. Example (not restricted to) of subcontracting activities that could be appropriate if needed are legal services or design services.
In addition, the subcontracting amount should not represent a relevant amount of the total budget and should be justified on the submitted proposal.
If you are participating as an entity, you are free to add new employees from the firm to the team.
The conditions regarding the intellectual property rights of Challengers and Solvers will be defined in the pilot co-creation agreements. But in general, the following principles must be respected:
● They must give each other the background identified as needed for implementing the pilot,
● Each Solver will own the foreground it generates and also the foreground generated or jointly generated by/with the Challenger in the context of the co-creation of the pilot in Action #3. This is to ensure that Solvers can widely exploit the newly developed solutions commercially. In return, the Challenger can receive rights to use the results for internal use and licensing rights subject to certain conditions to be described in the co-creation agreement to be signed at the beginning of Action #3.