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About InnoBuyer

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.

As a Solver you will:

 ●  Receive up to €58.500 to co-create a pilot with a public organisation (Challenger).
 ●  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 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 challenge proposed by the procurer, while also facilitating the procurer adoption and the innovation supplier commercialization of the solution.

The InnoBuyer programme is 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 (closed on March 2023)
 ●  Call for Solvers (from the 25th of October 2023 to the 24th of January 2024 at 17:00 Central European Time)
 ●  Co-creation (expected for 2024)
 ●  Legal support for tender preparation (expected for 2024/2025)

Funding is given by the InnoBuyer consortium under a Co-creation 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 innovative solutions. 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.

Who is eligible?

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.

The applicants that choose to address one of the 12 challenges proposed by InnoBuyer must be Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

An SME will be considered as such if it complies with the European Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC21 and the SME user guide. As a summary, SMEs are enterprises which:

  • a) employ fewer than 250 persons; and
  • b) have either an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million or an annual total balance sheet not exceeding EUR 43 million.

Start-ups that do not have an annual turnover or balance sheets yet, are also considered eligible given that they fulfil the criteria (a) and (b) at submission time.

The applicants that choose to address a challenge that is not proposed by InnoBuyer, must be consortia composed by:

  • one Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME),
    • as defined by the European Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC21 and the SME user guide. As a summary, an SME is an enterprise which:
      • a) employs fewer than 250 persons; and
      • b) has either an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million or an annual total balance sheet not exceeding EUR 43 million,
    • and, previously or currently funded by the European Innovation Council,
    • and, legally established in any of the following countries (hereafter collectively identified as the “Eligible Countries”) are eligible:
      • The Member States (MS) of the European Union (EU), including their outermost regions;
      • The Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) linked to the Member States;
      • Horizon Europe associated countries according to the updated list published by the EC
  • and, one Public Organisation,
    • defined as such according to Article 2 of Directive 2014/24 EC, and either being:
      • the State, regional or local authorities,
      • bodies governed by public law or
      • associations formed by one or more such authorities or one or more such bodies governed by public law,
    • and established in one of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, or Sweden.

Each consortium must be led by the SME.

Start-ups that do not have an annual turnover or balance sheets yet, are also considered eligible given that they fulfil the criteria (a) and (b) at submission time.

How to participate?

The F6S platform is the entry point for all proposals: 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.

Applications for the Call for Solvers will close on January 24th, 2024, at 17:00 CET (Brussels time).

Only one proposal will be accepted for funding per applicant. In the case of a multiple submission, only the last one received (timestamp of the system) will enter into the evaluation process, the rest being declared as non-eligible. If the last submitted proposal is declared then non-eligible or fails to reach the thresholds of the evaluation, the other proposals submitted earlier will not be considered for evaluation in any case.

The documents that must be submitted are:

  • Application form: administrative questions to be completed directly in the F6S platform
  • Annex 2: proposal template: either version A or B, which must be completed and uploaded as in PDF format to the F6S platform.
    • Version A: to apply for one of the 12 ready-made challenges proposed by InnoBuyer
    • Version B: to apply addressing a challenge not proposed by InnoBuyer

According to the Guidelines for Applicants (Section “3 – ACTIVITIES TO BE FUNDED”) each pair of selected Challenger and Solver is expected to collaborate for a period of 10 months to implement the solution/pilot proposed by the Solver to address the Challenge presented by the Challenger.

The evaluation phase is expected to take place from 1 February to 15 March 2024. Notification of results are expected by mid March 2024.

How does the evaluation process work?

The evaluation of the proposals is carried out by the InnoBuyer Consortium with the assistance of external 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. Each proposal is evaluated by a set of at least two experts according to the following criteria:

 ●  Excellence (30%)
 ●  Alignment (25%)
 ●  Commitment (20%)
 ●  Implementation & value for money (25%)

The proposals will be given to external evaluators with experience in the procurement of innovation and with relevant technical expertise for the proposed solutions, bound by a confidentiality agreement and non-conflict of interest declaration. Every proposal will be evaluated, according to the evaluation criteria, by at least two different experts. 

For the challenges proposed by InnoBuyer, one of the evaluators will be a representative of the Challenger. 

The top 2 applications related to each challenge proposed by InnoBuyer will be invited for the online interview stage.

The top 10 applications, not related to the challenges proposed by InnoBuyer, will also be invited for the online interview stage.

During the online interview the applicants will start by doing a pitch of their pilot project concept, followed by Q&As. This will be an opportunity for evaluators to ask questions that they may have about the written application, as well as about the commitment and engagement of applicants towards participating in InnoBuyer.

Granted applicants

Payments will be done in 2 instalments, based on concrete results, deliverables and a review of each action.

The maximum amount of funding a selected Solver can get and retain is €58.500.

The maximum amount of funding a selected Challenger can get and retain is €21.500.

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.

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.

You are free to add new employees from the organisation to the team.

In general, the following principles must be respected:

● Challenger and Solvers 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. 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 negotiated between Challenger and Solvers.