by Jenny Camaradou

Did you know that the European Union is investing around €2,9bn into SMEs to promote employment growth and economic prosperity and encourage entrepreneurs to grow and scale ventures in Europe? As part of its 7 year R&D framework called Horizon 2020, the EU has allocated €80bn in funding grants for SMEs and entrepreneurs. It is also introducing a series of policy measures designed to make an internal market in venture capital in Europe.

The EU is looking to support highly innovative SMEs that “want to disrupt the established value networks and existing markets”. It has introduced a variety of funding mechanisms so that you can apply as a single SME or group of SMEs to get a grants of €50,000 and between €0.5million – 2.5 million equity free, yes, that’s right, you get to retain your equity and at the end of it they also throw in introductions to investors, effectively providing you with an EU wide “stamp of approval” for your concept, which has beaten competition across the whole of the EU - neat huh?

“So what’s the catch?” I hear you say. There is none! Other than you have to have a concept/product/service that is likely to “disrupt the market” and have “pan-European application” and of course know how to handle the application red tape and write a winning proposal which meets the criteria of what the EU is looking for. This is where I come in. I lived, breathed and worked in the EU policy field, working within the European Commission during the first 3 years of my career in Brussels and subsequently afterwards as an in-house lobbyist on behalf of Thomson Reuters. I have designed, written and co-ordinated R&D projects and written proposals for a university business incubator and acted as an independent expert. I am currently waiting to hear if I will be working with the European Commission as an independent evaluator for proposals which means I am well placed to talk about what they are looking for!

So whether you are a new start-up fresh on the block, or have been established and trading for a while, whether you are based within a RD university organisation of an innovation hub or elsewhere or you have already received grants, related innovation-related tax benefits or an innovation prize in the last 2 years or a seed funding, you may be eligible to apply for an EU grant. As an SME you can apply for €50,000 grant for projects that are less than 6 months in duration - or between €0,5- 2,5million grant for projects that are expected to last between 12 - 24 months. To be able to get the funds for 2014 the first deadline for applications is 18 June 2014 and a second in September - if you would like to find out what options are available to you and how to increase your chances of writing a winning proposal, please get in touch. I will be running an introductory short webinar followed by 1-2-1 individual skype sessions within the next couple of weeks, as well as a face to face funding workshop at a central London venue.

If you found this article useful and would like to learn more, we recommend getting in touch with one of our partners in the fundraising space, Jenny,



GrantTree provides a financial boost to some of the UK’s most innovative startups and tech companies by helping them make the most of government funding schemes.

Our mission is to let startups be startups. We push the scene to be more open, transparent, and effective, taking on the bureaucratic burden to let them focus on what matters.

We are growing rapidly, having just moved into our new office in Shoreditch and need the help of new team members. We are looking for people with an eye for detail, a talent for clear and prompt communication, and an agile mind that can switch from task to task quickly.

The position:

You will focus on guiding clients through the various stages needed to file claims for funding. This involves dealing with senior individuals (often CEOs, CTOs and CFOs) in these companies to understand their tech and financials before working with the GrantTree team (and some spreadsheets!) to help compile this information.

You will quickly become an expert in government funding schemes, and will need the desire to continue learning about the intricacies of these schemes to be able to grow into the role. You will have worked with over 60 clients by the end of your first year with us, many of them well known or rapidly growing startups on the UK tech scene.

This is just the beginning. As in most small companies, everybody does a bit of everything. You’ll gain a deep understanding of how startups function by working with a wide variety of tech companies, by being part of the tech scene, and of course by working with us and seeing how GrantTree grows!


Flexibility, common sense, a head for numbers, an understanding of programming (you don’t need to be a pro, but a decent knowledge is very desirable), and excellent written and spoken communication skills are the attributes we’re looking for.

You will be emotionally intelligent, and able to build the strong relationships that make people feel confident about working with GrantTree. You will have some sort of client relationship management experience and be able to deal professionally with demanding startup founders.

You’ll strongly identify with all our company values, and will enjoy becoming part of a diverse group as our culture develops. We have some amazing individuals on our team in terms of education and skills, but the reason they are great team members is - beyond anything else - the ability to be humble, to cooperate, and roll their sleeves up and get the job done whenever needed. Nobody on our team is - in their own mind - better than anybody else, no matter what skills or track record they have.

The startup world is small, so having the right attitude is crucial to helping us build and maintain our great reputation.

More about us:

Founded by Daniel Tenner and Paulina Sygulska, GrantTree is a rapidly growing company whose team of women and men help UK technology companies secure funding without sacrificing equity.

The company deals primarily with R&D Tax Credits and Grants, but is also in the process of launching some exciting new finance products for the tech space.

We’ve had a very profitable first three years as a company, with turnover growing threefold each year, and we managed to bring in more than £1m in our third year.

We believe in working healthy and productive hours. The best work is done by people who are happy and well rested - and we want the best work.

Following the example of companies who’ve managed to successfully implement a modern culture, such as Semco, Valve, and Zappos, we are building a progressive, open-minded, non-traditional organisation. Unless you have worked in a forward thinking startup (particularly in the Valley), it’s likely that you have never seen a similar working environment. To take advantage of the benefits we offer, such as flexible hours and remote working possibilities, you will need to be a self-motivated, honest, and mature individual.

The perks:

Pay starts at £28k/y, with quarterly pay rises taking you to £36k/y by the end of the first year (rising to £40k/y by the end of the second). In addition to this, we offer a revenue share model for employees within the company, with a generous company wide quarterly bonus scheme.

As mentioned, we’re a laid back company offering flexible working hours and the opportunity to work remotely once you’ve proved yourself if you don’t fancy our lovely office in Shoreditch!

But it’s not just about the money and the flexibility. This is an outstanding chance to learn about the startup scene, build an extensive personal network of company founders and investors, and prove your business acumen.

How to apply:

This is a client-facing role, which will involve written, phone, and occasional in-person communication, so the application process mirrors these elements.

Start by writing a brief (500 words or so), clear cover email outlining why you wish to work with us, what you hope to achieve, what you expect from the role, why you’ll fit in with our values (see blog post explaining them), and why you’re the best person for our team.

As part of the initial round, there is a text below that is rather poorly written. It contains a number of grammatical and spelling mistakes, as well as sentences that don’t make much sense or could be rephrased more strongly. Improve it as much as you can, and attach this corrected text to your email along with your CV and cover letter.

Please send applications to

If you’re selected, we’ll get in contact setting up a phone interview, and if you’re successful we’ll arrange in-person interviews with several members of the team.

We will aim to reply promptly to all applications.

The start date is as soon as possible after we find you!

The text to correct:

Please include a corrected version of this (intentionally bad) text in your application:

Archistem is the powerful software for visual collaborations. The drawing is shared in the middle, enabling it’s instant communication. The drawing is stored on the Archistem servers, and any modifications are transmitted live to all collaborators, thus same as being in the same room looking at a drawing together!! Archistem also has many voice communication together, up to 10 at the same time. This makes distributed visual collaboration possible. This is a first in the construction industry. Archistem fully integrates into the Archistalk system so that it can load up drawings from you’re existing projects and save them back with recording of entire markup and voice session. Archistem is essential tool for modern architect! Cost is only $10/m/user.


We’re looking for a friendly, energetic person to take over the marketing function at GrantTree. We have products that are first on the market, and we have an fairly unique culture that is worth talking about, but we’re struggling to give all these things the proper marketing attention that they deserve.

Founded in 2010 by Daniel Tenner and Paulina Sygulska, GrantTree helps tech companies to get government funding, mostly in the form of tax credits, and also has released an innovative new funding product called the Power-Up Fund.

We’re looking for someone with some experience of marketing already, and with a clear interest in the startup scene and in helping startups (both GrantTree and our customers) thrive. You’ll be joining our team of 15 women and men, most of them based in London, to take over the marketing function and help us double down on the efforts we’ve been making to get our brand out there.

GrantTree is a different place to work. We believe in openness and transparency. All our financial data is open to all employees, and we fight secrets wherever we find them. We believe in trust and responsibility rather than command and control. We believe in treating people like adults rather than infantilising them. To succeed in this environment, you must be genuinely self-motivated and able to work independently, while at the same time be team-minded and helpful and generous with your time. More of that on our website - have a read before you apply!

Here are the kinds of things we’d expect you to get involved in (but this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Keep track of competitors, do some competitor analysis
  • Design and implement our PR and marketing strategy
  • Figure out ways to measure (and then ensure) the ROI of your role
  • Book team members, some of whom are already successful public speakers, into (many) more speaking opportunities
  • Seek out opportunities and further GrantTree’s press coverage for its unique products (e.g. Power-Up Fund) and culture
  • Find events to host in GrantTree and organise/record/release videos
  • Help create promotional materials
  • Get the Blog/Social Media to be updated more frequently (i.e. come up with a more tangible plan/strategy for how we do this and get it implemented)
  • Be in charge of the weekly newsletter
  • Go to networking events
  • Come up with clever new ways to market GrantTree

However, the role is fairly open-ended. We want much, much more energy to be put into marketing activity, to make much, much better use of the advantages that we have, like our culture and our product and market differentiations, and to get a much better idea of the return on investment of those activities. Our main market is tech startups. We believe we can dominate this space if we get our marketing right, and your job will be to help that vision come true.

Skills-wise, we are looking for people who already have developed theirs in a marketing role, hopefully in the startup world or marketing to startups. One of your responsibilities will be to get us some press coverage, so this shouldn’t be something new and scary to you. A lot of startup marketing also happens in person - you’ll be better suited to this role if you love going to networking events and meeting people and talking to them about their cool startups.

The salary for this role is £28k per annum, plus a share of the bonus pool once out of the 6-month probation period.

To apply, simply email with a description of why you think you’d be a good fit for the role (rough target 300 words, but can be longer), and also include a link to a brief video of yourself telling us what you think we should do differently, marketing-wise (uploaded to youtube or a similar site - please make sure the link is accessible!).

Please don’t forget the video!

Note: No recruitment agencies or other third parties, please!

Since we’ve just deployed a new design, which you can see now, I thought this was a good time to post a screenshot of the old design and say good bye to it.

Good bye, old design, you served us well!

Since we’ve just deployed a new design, which you can see now, I thought this was a good time to post a screenshot of the old design and say good bye to it.

Good bye, old design, you served us well!


One of the hardest things when browsing the Horizon 2020 site is simply to figure out how the big picture has been organised. What is going on there? What are the grant schemes? How do they work? Who should apply?

Without that information, it’s pretty hard to judge whether this might be for you, or not.

The grant schemes are organised in 7 different types:

  • Research and innovation actions

  • Innovation actions

  • Coordination and support actions

  • SME instrument

  • ERANET Co-fund

  • Pre-commercial procurement Co-fund

  • Public procurement of innovative solutions Co-fund

When a funding call like Personalising Health and Care is released, it is broken down into quite a lot of sub-topics. Each sub-topic will fit into one of the types above. For example, if you look at the page for the first PHC sub-topic, “Understanding health, ageing and disease: determinants, risk factors and pathways”, and scroll to the bottom, you’ll see that it’s a “Research and Innovation action” - i.e. in the first type.

The type of the grant influences what level of funding is available, and who can apply. Most types require three “entities” spread across three countries to apply together. If nothing is specified, this is what you should expect, unless it’s an “SME Instrument” or a “Co-ordination and support action” - in which case only one entity needs to apply.

With that in mind, here’s a brief description of each of the funding call types.

Research and innovation actions

This is meant to support “activities aiming to establish new knowledge and/or to explore the feasibility of a new or improved technology, product, process, service or solution”. In sort, very new stuff. The activities this aims to support are “basic and applied research, technology development and integration, testing and validation on a small-scale prototype in a laboratory or simulated environment”, and the funding level for this type of work is 100%.

Innovation actions

Here, the EU is looking to fund slightly later projects, “directly aiming at producing plans and arrangements or designs for new, altered or improved products, processes or services”. This time, the activities include “prototyping, testing, demonstrating, piloting, large-scale product validation and market replication”. The funding for this type of call is 70%.

Coordination and support action

The EU recognises that innovation doesn’t happen solely in innovating companies - there are a whole bunch of actors that may not be doing R&D themselves, but are necessary to creating an environment that’s conducive to the work they want to encourage. And so it provides funding for (get ready for a mouthful): “standardisation, dissemination, awareness-raising and communication, networking, coordination or support services, policy dialogues and mutual learning exercises and studies, including design studies for new infrastructure and may also include complementary activities of networking and coordination between programmes in different countries”.

Each of the major funding calls will typically include some coordination and support actions, and these are funded at 100%.

SME Instrument

These will be of great interest since they provide support for R&D and are single-company schemes, but they tend to be more rare (based on our research so far) than the other types of funding, so don’t limit yourself to these (which are likely to be oversubscribed anyway). The SME instrument type is typically split into two phases, where Phase 1 is a feasibility study and planning exercise that then leads to a “strategic business plan” that is implemented with much larger funding in Phase 2. The funding rate depends on the call. Typically it’s about 70%, but PHC-12, for example, is 100%-funded because the EU has decided that this particular SME instrument is highly research-intensive.

As they say, there are no good rules without good exceptions.

 ERA-NET co-fund

ERA-NET is a CORDIS programme that you can probably safely ignore for now unless you’re in the public sector. These co-funding calls are themselves public-public partnerships, and so of little interest to startups. They are typically funded at 33%.

Pre-Commercial Procurement Co-Fund

PCP Co-Fund appears to be there to encourage entities (public or private) to procure research and development jointly. I suspect this is of little use to startups as well, unless they find themselves on the receiving end of such a procurement call (which would only typically happen to larger startups).

Public Procurement of Innovative Solutions Co-Fund

PPI Co-fund, nothing to do with those annoying PPI phone calls, is similar to PCP but for public procurement. Another one to ignore.

In conclusion

The first four funding call types are the relevant ones, and now when you browse through the multitudinous jungle of H2020 funding, you may have a better idea of what they’re talking about with their classification of funding calls.

There’s more to come of course - this is just scratching the surface of one of the facets of the H2020 gem. Stay tuned (sign up for the newsletter or follow the feed) to get more updates!


What it is:

This is actually a set of several funding calls spread over both 2014 and 2015, with the following cute names:

They all fit under the equally cute “H2020-PHC-2014-2015”, and under the general concept of “personalising health and care”. Reading the work programme (warning: quite long!) you can see that they want people to address the following many topics:

  • PHC 1 – 2014: Understanding health, ageing and disease: determinants, risk factors and pathways (€4-6m per proposal)
  • PHC 2 – 2015: Understanding diseases: systems medicine (€4-6m per proposal)
  • PHC 3 - 2015: Understanding common mechanisms of diseases and their relevance in co-morbidities (same again)
  • PHC 4 - 2015: Health promotion and disease prevention: improved inter-sector cooperation for environment and health based interventions (€4-6m again)
  • PHC 5 – 2014: Health promotion and disease prevention: translating ‘omics’ into stratified approaches (you guessed it)
  • PHC 6 – 2014: Evaluating existing screening and prevention programmes (€different! 2-3m per proposal)
  • PHC 7 – 2014: Improving the control of infectious epidemics and foodborne outbreaks through rapid identification of pathogens (€15-20m per proposal)
  • PHC 8 – 2014: Vaccine development for poverty-related and neglected infectious diseases: Tuberculosis (€15-25m)
  • PHC 9 – 2015: Vaccine development for poverty-related and neglected infectious diseases: HIV/AIDS (€15-20m)
  • PHC 10 – 2014: Development of new diagnostic tools and technologies: in vitro devices, assays and platforms (€4-6m)
  • PHC 11 – 2015: Development of new diagnostic tools and technologies: in vivo medical imaging technologies (€4-6m)
  • PHC 12 – 2014/2015: Clinical research for the validation of biomarkers and/or diagnostic medical devices (phase 1: €50k, phase 2: €1-5m)
  • PHC 13 – 2014: New therapies for chronic non-communicable diseases (€4-6m)
  • PHC 14 – 2015: New therapies for rare diseases (€4-6m)
  • PHC 15 – 2014/2015: Clinical research on regenerative medicine (€4-6m)
  • PHC 16 – 2015: Tools and technologies for advanced therapies (€4-6m)
  • PHC 17 – 2014: Comparing the effectiveness of existing healthcare interventions in the elderly (€4-6m)
  • PHC 18 – 2015: Establishing effectiveness of health care interventions in the paediatric population (€4-6m)
  • PHC 19 – 2014: Advancing active and healthy ageing with ICT: Service robotics within assisted living environments (€3-4m)
  • PHC 20 – 2014: Advancing active and healthy ageing with ICT: ICT solutions for independent living with cognitive impairment (€2-3m)
  • PHC 21 – 2015: Advancing active and healthy ageing with ICT: Early risk detection and intervention (€3-4m)
  • PHC 22 – 2015: Promoting mental wellbeing in the ageing population (€4-6m)
  • PHC 23 – 2014: Developing and comparing new models for safe and efficient, prevention oriented health and care systems (€4-6m)
  • PHC 24 – 2015: Piloting personalised medicine in health and care systems (€12-15m)
  • PHC 25 – 2015: Advanced ICT systems and services for Integrated Care (€3-5m)
  • PHC 26 – 2014: Self-management of health and disease: citizen engagement and mHealth (€3-5m)
  • PHC 27 – 2015: Self-management of health and disease and patient empowerment supported by ICT (€3-5m)
  • PHC 28 – 2015: Self-management of health and disease and decision support systems based on predictive computer modelling used by the patient him or herself (€3-5m)
  • PHC 29 – 2015: Public procurement of innovative eHealth services (€1-5m)
  • PHC 30 – 2015: Digital representation of health data to improve disease diagnosis and treatment (€3-5m)
  • PHC 31 – 2014: Foresight for health policy development and regulation (€2-3m)
  • PHC 32 – 2014: Advancing bioinformatics to meet biomedical and clinical needs (€2-3m)
  • PHC 33 – 2015: New approaches to improve predictive human safety testing (€10-15m)
  • PHC 34 – 2014: eHealth interoperability (up to €1m)

Whew. That’s it. Worth noting that a whole bunch of these (PHCs 1, 5, 6, 10, 13, 17, 23 and 32) have a deadline in the very near future: 11th March 2014. Others (7, 8, 15, 19, 20, 26, 31, 34) have a slightly further deadline of April 15th 2014. There are also others that have deadlines in July and later.

Each of these schemes has a few tens of millions of Euros attached to it. It’s worth noting that the amounts (e.g. €4-6m) are indicative rather than mandatory. The evaluating committee will be looking at proposals with different costs too.

There are also a whole bunch of “coordination activities” listed in the supporting document.

Each of these has its own submission page, e.g. this one for PHC-05, which includes further information and application documents. For obvious reasons, I’m not listing all of them here!

Who it’s for:

Most of those require multiple companies to apply (usually 3, from different countries). Details of the application process can be found here. Some of the funding calls (those labelled “SME Instrument”) only require a single applicant.

You should look at this if you’re doing anything at all in this field. Many of those funding calls are straight, 100% funded grants, rather than the usual match-funded kind from TSB (the EU is not restricted by its own Notified State Aid rules, since it’s not a state!). If your area of interest overlaps with one of the headings above, it’d be silly not to try and tap into some of this funding.


The first upcoming deadlines are very soon - 11th March and 15th April 2014 - so if this is of interest, get moving now!


What it is:

This Horizon-2020 scheme provides funding for a “Researchers’ Night” that’s been devised to shine a spotlight on researchers around the EU. In their words:

The European Researchers’ Night (NIGHT), and funded under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, is a Europe-wide public event to enhance researchers’ public recognition, and to stimulate interest in research careers, especially amongst young people.

"The European Researchers’ Night aims to bring researchers to the general public and to increase awareness of research and innovation activities, with a view to supporting the public recognition of researchers, creating an understanding of the impact of researchers’ work on citizen’s daily life, and encouraging young people to embark on scientific careers."

As far as I could tell, the funding is 100% funding (not match funded) for about €70-80k per event for each organisation that applies.

Who it’s for:

Because this does not seem ideally relevant to most of our readers, I won’t go into too much detail. This seems especially relevant to people who are able to organise and promote events in partnership with research institutions. Very detailed information is available here.


The deadline is very soon! You’ll need to get your applications in within the next few days, by March 4th. The competition page with all the documents is here.


One scheme (if we can call it by such a small name) that’s been on people’s lips lately, and that you should really be aware, if you’re not yet, is Horizon 2020.

Horizon 2020 is a huge “research and innovation” EU programme. How big? Try €80b over 7 years. That’s over €10b a year. I don’t know how much of that will go to UK companies, but given that the UK’s Technology Strategy Board gives out about £400m a year, I think it’s not unreasonable to assume that a large enough chunk of Horizon 2020 will get to the UK to at least double that amount of grant funding.

Of course, there’s not a single programme about to disburse €10b a year all in one go - the money is split into many smaller programmes, which you can find an exhaustive list of here. Many are themed, e.g. several around mobile health like this one, which comes in at a chunky €303m.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be dissecting all those funding calls one by one to try and make sense of them for you. Since the schemes tend to be themed rather than general purpose, it’s important that you contact us if you would like us to help with an application, as we won’t be able to explain all the schemes over the phone when talking to you! Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss them. The schemes will also be announced in the newsletter (sign up on the right).


TSB have just launched a new “Strategic Framework”. What is that?

It seems to be the tangible output of some efforts by the Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group, which consists of a number of organisations including: the Carbon Trust, BIS, the Department for Energy & Climate Change, research councils, UKTI, TSB, Scottish Enterprise, and a bunch of others. What’s happened here is that they’ve decided how to coordinate their action to issue funding.

The LCICG will not be issuing funding directly, but its members will be. One way to find out about this funding is via the search engine. Another way is to pay attention to the funding providers you already know operate in your area (though the search engine may give you some new ideas!). However, the main use of this, I think, is to have a look through the Technology Focus Areas, and in particular have a careful read through the Strategic Framework PDF itself, to get a better idea of what this broad set of funding organisations will be looking to fund over the next few years.

Linking grant applications back to the wording used in the Framework will likely result in better success rates.


This article, well worth a read, mentions how startups like Buffer and SumAll avoid salary negotiations entirely by having a culture of open salaries:

"The negotiating process is very alien to us at Buffer—because there is no negotiating," CEO Joel Gascoigne previously told Quartz. "We have a really high focus on cultural fit to the point that if they didn’t know about the formula before they applied, they probably wouldn’t be a good fit."

There is something slightly misleading in this. In a transparent culture, it’s true that there are no traditional salary negotiations, by which I mean the closed-doors, one-on-one, “I deserve to earn more and I’ve got better offers, so give me a raise” types of conversations, because it is simply impossible to act on them - secret pay packets are just not possible. If someone gets a pay raise, there needs to be a viable justification for that.

However, our experience is that there are, and in fact must be salary negotiations, but they happen in a group, in the open.

Much like with hierarchy, however, it is misleading to say that the “new model” of building companies has no salary negotiations - they just adopt a radically different, much more open and transparent and fair format. If they never happen at all, though, you’ll have a lot of problems with staff retention.


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