C-VoUCHER Q&A: Learn how to accelerate your circular economy SME with €60k

LAST CHANCE! Apply before November 30 and create a sustainable business model

Are you an innovative SME willing to adopt sustainable business models? If the answer is yes, hurry up and apply for C-VoUCHER Circularity Programme Open Call before November 30. This open call looks for companies willing to create sustainable business models by using design thinking methodologies and implementing new technologies.

For that, the programme offers: up to €60k funding per SME in vouchers, a 9-month acceleration program (Circularity Programme for Classic SMEs), tailored Designer-in-Residence support, top business mentoring and further funding opportunities (both public and private), and technology implementation.

We organised a Q&A session in C-VoUCHER Community to offer the applicants guidance and support before submitting their proposals, and in case you missed it, we have gathered all the questions and answers below.

Is C-VoUCHER Open Call open to startups and micro-businesses?

It is open to any size of the company, but please note that the scope is to reshape the traditional (linear) value chain into the circular one. If the startup is established well enough to be able to spot the weak areas in the traditional model, it is more than welcomed to apply. I’m saying that only because startups tend to be more dynamic and advanced in business structures.

There is dedicated designer support as part of the benefits of the acceleration programme. How does this work? Which criteria are you going to use to assign beneficiaries a mentor?

The designers’ support (up to 9 months of services) will be offered on top of €60k grant. The designers will be meeting the finalists during the bootcamp at the beginning of February 2019 and will be teamed up with the companies on the spot. We will be analyzing the company’s sectoral background, its needs and expectations regarding the potential circular changes, etc. The mentors are coming from all fields and areas of know-how (design thinking, business development, industrial design). They will be linked to the project partners and travelling to the company they support every now and then to check the progress.

In section 5.1 of the Guide for Applicants you ask details about the implementation plan. Do you mean that the proposal should describe a gantt chart?

The presentation form is up to you (gantt could be included but it is not obligatory). Here we would like to learn about the resources you’ll be using (people, equipment, etc.), plus see how feasible it is given the time of the project. The bottom line is to convince us that there is a solid idea behind the execution. This idea will be detailed once you’re in and assigned designer and mentors to help you set up the entire plan.

We are a B2B2C platform who helps brands to become circular and offers end users to experience fashion in a circular method. We have warehouse system and currently want to ask C-VoUCHER to support us in a RFID Code Garment tracking to develop a fast and smooth logistic, but we also aim for developing a recycling machine in order to up cycle the materials after rented out yx amount of time. For which of the two would you advise us to focus on at our application?

The RFID idea seems really cool! Especially that we have several prioritized technologies in C-VoUCHER and this one could fit right in. From the other perspective, you could be deciding based on the planned cost of the project — maybe one of them could benefit from €60k better than the other? It might be that the money offered will get you the full support needed for the RFID, while developing the recycling machine is very costly and €60k will be just a drop in the ocean.

Now about “the other resources you are planning to use” (in section 5, again), do we need to provide details on how we are going to spend the money? Do we need to provide distribution to personnel, consumables, etc.?

You don’t have to present a detailed budget structure at this point. Once you’re selected and invited to sign the sub-grant agreement (the legal contract to get the support) we will be asking you to present such a file. I assume you already have an estimation of how much things might cost. You can describe it as: we will have to engage a production manager (3 months, 0.5 time), supply chain manager (2 months, full time), etc., and plan to purchase the technology for advanced recycling that could be valued up to €45k. This will be enough at this point.

What do you understand by “the other”?

Resources can be human or material (or in a form of a right/licence). Whatever you might need to execute the project should be mentioned here. Please remember, at this point we’re looking for the plans and ideas. You will be given full support to detail everything. We just need to see the potential now. :)

Can you explain the characteristics of the designer? Can each firm propose them? In which phase of the process beneficiaries work with designers: in the sketch, graphic design, surfaces in three dimensions, tools and process?

The designers are industrial experts, with experience in business design (not the art scope, obviously). They are often engineers. You can have a look at our call for designers, where we were looking for the experts. These people are contracted internally by C-VoUCHER partners, so unfortunately, the applicants can’t bring their own favourites.

We have developed a prototype of the planned device. Do we need to provide a description of the prototype? If yes, in what level of detail?

Here, the most important part would be to confirm that you have all the right to the prototype. Then, a general description with a clear value point should be included. Why do you need that? How does it work? Why is it beneficial? Why couldn’t you purchase an already made solution? The TRL of the technology behind it could be also interesting. If you have visual materials (photos, models, schemes), please, include them as well. They are not scored additionally, but can ‘lift’ the proposal a bit.

Hi, for Blue Growth sector, how a startup in wave energy power, not still having customers, but still in test optimization can have support from this call?

The most ideal case we’re looking for right now is the scenario when a company — established on the market with a traditional value chain — sees the bottlenecks and wants to manage the resources in a more sustainable way (i.e. by going circular).

What type of outsourcing or expenses are acceptable? May it be feasible to justify LCA subcontracting?

The €60k will be dedicated for the technology implementation — you’re right, the experts will help you out to define which technology, in which extent and what form is the most suitable. For some it might be a purchase of the prototype, for others software or consulting. Once you figure this out, we will get the ‘wish list’, help you find the proper supplier(s) and pay the bill. Subcontracting on your side would be possible, i.e. you need a specific expertise, but I would advise against it, as it is very complicated once it comes to the compliance later on. But not impossible.

In the case of obtaining the subsidy, will we have to send you a receipt of the payments made? If so, what is the accrual period for those invoices? That is, what is the last day for the expenses incurred for this subsidy to be computed?

We will be making the payments (FundingBox — the project coordinator is managing all the finances) based on the list of costs that you see necessary. There will be a transfer of money from our account to your suppliers’ accounts — you don’t need to get involved here.

Is the 9-month acceleration programme remote? Or do beneficiaries need to attend some meetings face-to-face? If so, are the expenses covered by the programme?

There will be a bootcamp (initial, physical meeting at the beginning of the program — February 2019). The cost of the travel is covered by C-VoUCHER. Other than that, there is no need to travel anywhere, all the work will be done at your premises and designer/business mentors will be following up online. We have decided that the designer will be visiting you a few times during this time (with all expenses on us).

Will companies joining the Bootcamp be reimbursed as per actual costs or will companies receive €2k regardless of actual costs?

The actual costs will be reimbursed. The reimbursement is up to €2k.

Can we present a budget with a specific provider? Or, on the contrary, do you choose a particular provider?

Yes, please suggest a provider if you know them.

How many companies can obtain the €60k to this project?

12 companies (6 now + 6 in the next call) will be awarded €60k. However, there will be 2 smaller calls later, where 42 companies will receive €15k each.

MORE ABOUT C-VoUCHER

C-VoUCHER is the first pan-European initiative funded under Horizon 2020 EU Programme that aims at creating circular economy business models, which means reshaping and redesigning linear value chains into the circular ones. This will be done in 5 traditional industries: Agro-Food, Health, Blue Growth, Manufacturing, and Textile.