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Securing European funding in transport, new calls in Autumn 2016

20 July 2016

In the last 10 years, Steer Davies Gleave’s Italian offices have recorded a significant increase in the number of organisations that have shown interest in and apply for European funding in transport. In many cases this interest is related to the reduction of available economic resources at national and local level, which drives public and private organizations to apply to European funding as means to develop their core business or statutory activities.

The European Union Programmes can actually help in developing the transport sector. The availability of funds is in the magnitude of several billion Euros, with budget for each beneficiary ranging from €100.000 to several million Euros. 

Several calls will be opened in different Programmes in Autumn 2016, among which:

  • The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Transport Programme, which supports investments in building new transport infrastructure or rehabilitating and upgrading existing ones.
  • The Transport Challenge of the Horizon 2020 Programme, which funds research and innovation in transport across transport modes and services.
  • The Interreg Programmes which cover different European territorial areas (for example the Italy–Croatia Programme) and which fund transport policies implementation, studies, demonstration and pilot activities, stakeholder engagement and communication activities.

Despite the amount of available budget and a high number of Programmes with short term opportunities, winning funds is not an easy task. What are, then, the three key questions you should ask yourself before applying to EU funding?

  • Have I chosen the right funding Programme? The variety of available Programmes makes it difficult to orient and choose the one that best suits your technical or business needs. For example, if you want to develop a Transport Plan or a behavioural change action, Interreg or Horizon are good options. If you are looking to fund infrastructure CEF is the right Programme. A deep analysis of the Programmes to check the relevance of your project idea is the starting point in order to have a return on your investment in preparing the funding request.
  • Am I rooted in the right international partnership? Most European Programmes require the set-up of international partnerships to access funding. The partner network activation must include partners that can properly implement the funds won and that are relevant to the project contents. For example, an international consortium only made of research bodies is not suitable for a project proposal implementing public policies in Interreg, because it would lack public authorities, which have a statutory mission in policies planning and implementation. It often happens that project proposals fail due to a partial mismatch between the partners’ core areas of activity and the results expected in the project. Investing in choosing the international partners that are relevant and well mixed to suit the targeted EU Programme will highly increase your chances of success.
  • Am I skilled enough to write a funding request? Winning funds is not just drafting your ideas on a blank page. European funded projects must be structured according to high level project management standards, be concise to fit Programme specific formats, attractive and technically sound in order to raise the evaluators’ interest. Different programmes usually require different writing styles. The writing of a project must also be based on a deep understanding of the Programme's documents, of their background and of the related European Commission’s policies, priorities and actions.

It is no surprise that benefiting of public money is a demanding activity and once the funding is won, running one project can be as challenging as running a small company. But our Italian consultants regularly meet organisations that are engaged in EU funding and have seen regional and local strategies, transport services and facilities for citizens and enterprises delivered via EU funds, with results that pay off the efforts.

The Italian offices of Steer Davies Gleave have expertise to help clients in seizing the opportunities of EU funding in transport by offering the technical and management expertise to support clients in identifying EU funding that meets their needs, preparing funding requests and supporting in the delivery of EU funded transport projects. New European calls are opening and funding waiting to be secured.

Written by Alberto Preti

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