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R&D grants Ireland: What makes a successful bid?

It’s easy to think you can sit there with the digital equivalent of a blank piece of paper in front of you, then magically come out with the perfect bid. But sadly, it never actually works out that way.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


7 minute read

When working with Irish businesses to prepare their application for any type of R&D grants, the same question tends to pop up time and again: Where on earth do I start?

It’s easy to think you can sit there with the digital equivalent of a blank piece of paper in front of you, then magically come out with the perfect bid. But sadly, it never actually works out that way. After all, how are you meant to know what areas you need to focus on? And what are the ‘judges’ or adjudicators actually looking for?

Irish Businesses looking for project financing may have heard of Enterprise Ireland and Horizon Europe amongst others, as sources of grant funding for innovative projects. They’re generous schemes and it’s tempting to jump in with both feet. But not only do you need to know how to write a bid itself, you also must know when each funding round is and whether your business is eligible.

The fact is, in many ways it doesn’t really matter who the funding award body is. It doesn’t matter if you are a university, SME or Large Enterprise; when companies apply for grants, they are applying for public money. This is money from taxation that could have been spent elsewhere, for example on hospitals, social care and national infrastructure. So, if you ever think “what is important in this grant application?” please remember where this money could be spent and the impacts it could have on those areas.

OK, now that we’ve cleared that up, you’re probably wondering “but what is important?”

Throughout our ten years plus of experience, the important bits are always the same:

  • You are satisfying an identifiable currently unmet need
  • You have developed or are developing a solution that matches this need
  • You can demonstrate the impacts on society as a whole
  • You go beyond what is currently available
  • You have the team and skills to deliver the project or you have a plan to acquire them
  • There is a sound business case behind you
  • The project has high degrees of novelty and innovation and with this comes with a high degree of risk

So what is the secret to R&D grant success?

No secret really. But there are some crucial steps to be aware of that we always tell our clients:

Make sure you’re eligible

In most cases, R&D grants are generally offered to smaller businesses. That is to say, those with a turnover of less than €50 million, and fewer than 250 employees. However, as each grant is very different, with a different set of eligibility criteria, it’s crucial that you don’t waste time applying for the wrong thing.

Emphasise technical and commercial feasibility

R&D grants are often about the technical and commercial feasibility of a piece of innovation. The development of the innovation itself comes second. By only showing limited market viability you put your bid on the back foot, as it were. Also, make sure there’s a clearly defined path to market by implementing an effective commercial strategy. This is investment of public money after all.

Undertake a PEST analysis

Making a Political, Economic, Social and Technological (PEST) analysis is the perfect way to make your case.

Innovating new products, processes and services will always come with some level of financial risk. It’s essential you therefore demonstrate you know what the risks are and how you plan to overcome them when making your bid.

Nail down your project’s plans and costs

There’s not much point in filling your application with ifs, buts and maybes. You need real figures and timelines that are based on data. Any waffling and vagueness isn’t going to equal success.

Get the right team

You need to demonstrate that your have the right staff - including external workers, freelancers and contractors - in place. And by proving that you’ve got the skill sorted and knowledge gaps plugged, your application is much more likely to stand out from the crowd.

Show the evidence

Evidence is crucial if you’re going to prove your innovation’s worth. Keep records of everything to do with your project, including the investigative R&D you plan to take. Try to also get endorsement from other professionals in your field to inspire confidence and strengthen your case.

Match it up with your own funding

Usually, in order to achieve R&D grant success your business will be required to match the funding with additional cash themselves. You therefore need to make sure you can prove that where any shortfall occurs you’ve got your financing sorted. Where is the extra money going to come from? It can’t be speculative either, it needs to be concrete. It’s about showing that your business has the cashflow behind it to survive and thrive.

Start your application early

These days every penny counts and competition for R&D grants is fierce. You’ll therefore want to make your grant bid the very best it can be - but be careful about leaving it until the last minute. All too often we see grant funding applications scraping in just before the deadline.

There’s a real knack to this, which is why we can’t emphasise this enough: start your application early and let us help you from the start. There’s a fair amount of preparation, planning and time involved, not least so you can confidently convey the commercial results.

With many thousands of pounds of funding at stake here, it’s something you’ll certainly want to get right, and timing is critical.

Take professional advice from our expert R&D grants team

Wading your way through the array of grants and funding options available can be baffling to say the least.

At Myriad Associates, we know exactly what works and what doesn’t when it comes to R&D grant funding. Thanks to our many years’ experience in this niche industry, we’re happy to take you through the different options available and get the balling rolling.

Feel free to get in touch by calling us on +353 1 566 2001 or drop us a message and we'll call you back.

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