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EC chucks cash at technology innovation projects

But securing funding is harder than you'd think

The European Commission is offering a huge financial incentive for businesses and other organisations to develop original technology projects.

It will provide €3.6bn in funding as part of a scheme designed to help forward technological development in business — the Information Society programme.

Software engineering company System Simulation is one business which has participated in the programme and obtained funding from the EU. The company worked with a number of other European partners on the Open Heritage project.

The project was designed to provide an online catalogue of museum collections. This enables someone in France, for example, to locate an exhibit, find out where it is housed and make arrangements to go and see it.

George Mallen, managing director of System Simulation said: "The scheme has taught us how we can adapt technology to pursue the company's goals. Our company has [also] benefitted from contact with other European partners."

To qualify for an EU grant, an organisation needs to work with other European businesses and show that they are doing innovative work in research or new services. This should fit in with the future development of the company.

The Commission also requires evidence that organisations will be able to complete the project, which takes between three and five years.

Interested companies should submit a proposal to the European Commission which, if successful, will guarantee them funding for a portion of their project — usually 50 percent.

But obtaining a grant from the EU isn’t easy, and businesses must follow strict procedures while drafting their proposals.

In the past, there have been many applications to the Information Society and so far success rates have varied from one in five to one in 10.

Mallen’s advice to other organisations hoping to get involved in the scheme is not to go into it for the money.

More details about how to secure funding are available here.

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