#takeaways ESG Webinar 6: Pragmatic roadmaps to support your sustainability funding via grants

17 May 2024
Main takeaways
  • Sustainability projects are becoming more and more a focus point of direct EU funding
  • A good analysis of the call for proposal and planning is key
  • Involve your stakeholders as soon as possible
  • Understanding the underlying EU policy & content will improve your chances of success
  • Determination and a well-structured application-writing planning is key

In the coming years, ESG compliance will have a significant impact on the sustainability landscape. To assist organizations in addressing these challenges and requirements, TriFinance is organizing a series of webinars on related topics to share meaningful insights and best practices.

The sixth webinar, 'How grants can help your sustainability funding' featured insights from TriFinance experts Steve Waeyaert and Stuey Hamelink, who shared their knowledge about the EU grant landscape with participants from various companies. They discussed how companies can benefit from the EU funding to support their sustainability initiatives and needs. Gaëlle De Baeck, Sustainability Lead at TriFinance, hosted the session.

How does EU funding work?

The EU budget for sustainability funding is substantial, amounting to 1,824.30 billion euros. This allocation includes both indirect and direct funding. 

  • The indirect funding gives national governments the opportunity to add their own national or regional accents.
  • Direct funding is distributed by the European Commission and its agencies to member states for further spending and includes funds paid directly by the EU. The funding can be provided through loans or other financial instruments, but the largest available amount is typically given as a grant.

In our webinar we focused on direct funding.

Not everybody can apply for each grant. Eligibility criteria vary depending on the specific grant program. Applicants must meet certain requirements, such as organization type, company size or project objectives that have to be met. These elements are taken into account during the application process.

The EU budget is divided into different programs. In this overview we share the most relevant ones. Keep in mind that not all programs have a direct link with sustainability, however for each EU grant application a sustainability assessment of the project needs to be conducted.

  • Structural Funds: aimed at reducing economic and social disparities across EU regions.
  • Cohesion Funds: focused on promoting growth and job creation.
  • Horizon Europe: funding for research and innovation.
  • ERASMUS+: funding for education, training, and youth programs.
  • LIFE Program: funding for environmental and climate action projects.
  • Rural Development Funds: support for agricultural and rural development.
  • And many more specific programs for various sectors and purposes.

Good to know: almost half of the calls are coming from the Horizon programme. Together with Life these programmes are directly linked to the sustainability grants.

A grant scan is a low level instrument to see how your sustainability projects can get funded through grants, both on a European level and on a national level.

Steve Waeyaert

Grant application roadmap

The EU uses programmes to launch their grant calls. There are over forty programmes, each with one or more grant calls that are currently running.

To support you in navigating the overwhelming amount of grant application possibilities, we created a roadmap to provide a clear overview of the various steps to take in the grant application process.

Some best practices to keep in mind when preparing your application:

  • Partnerships play a key role in the application process and are often a requirement for your application. Establishing the right partnerships and agreements are very time consuming, which poses a risk to respecting the timeline.
  • Partnerships are not only limited to your direct business partners, but can also include research centers or public institutions.
  • Speak the language of the public sector and stay well informed about upcoming calls and the broader political and policy context.

Once your application is submitted, a team of experts will evaluate your proposal. If all goes well, the signing of the agreement will mark the start of your funding. You will always be informed about the outcome of the application. Today, the average success rate is 15%, but at this moment we see a lot of variation from 6% to 80%.

In general, the time between submitting the proposal and signing the agreement is between six to fifteen months. When your project is selected, you will have to report in a structured way about the progress and impact of your project. This reporting is closely monitored by the EU, it is even possible to receive a visit from an EU-delegation.

Speak the language of the subsidizing institution and don’t be modest on how your project is a perfect fit for the call and the institution’s policy.

Stuey Hamelink

Writing an application: roadmap for a successful application

One of the key success factors in succeeding your grant application, is the process of the writing of the application. It is a time-consuming process which requires a project management approach to successfully submit your application. Here you can see the different stages:

The main ingredients for a successful writing process:

  • Get the right people on the writing team: a technical expert, a PMO- expert, a translator and/or non-expert;
  • Build your planning and stick to the plan. A project management approach is key in order to respect the timeline.
  • Your purpose will keep you going when it gets tough. Have a clear understanding of the benefit of this grant and the impact it will have on your goals and organization.
  • Knowing what you need to write and how to be eligible is key before undertaking this process.

How TriFinance can support you

TriFinance can support you during the different stages of the application. Via a policy scan you receive an overview of relevant and upcoming European legislation and policies tailored to your needs. We concentrate on your specific sector, highlighting what's new, what’s obligatory, and how it impacts your business. Additionally, our grant scan delivers strategic advice on the most compelling grant possibilities.

In conclusion, the key message of the sixth TriFinance ESG webinar is that the EU funding to support companies in their sustainability journey is huge and all companies can benefit from the grants that are available to them. Pragmatic roadmaps are key in successfully submitting your applications for grants. Both the roadmap for grant application and the roadmap for writing the selected application provide guidance on how to increase your chances of success.