Grants – 50,000 to 2,5m euro funded at 70%

What support is available?

The dedicated SME instrument’s supports close-to-market activities, with the aim to give a strong boost to breakthrough innovation. Highly innovative SMEs with a clear commercial ambition and a potential for high growth and internationalisation are the prime target.

The SME Instrument offers small and medium-sized businesses the following:

  • Business innovation grants for feasibility assessment purposes (optional phase I): EUR 50,000 (lump sum) per project (70% of total cost of the project);
  • Business innovation grants for innovation development & demonstration purposes (possible phase II): an amount in the indicative range of EUR 500,000 and 2,5 million (70% of total cost of the project as a general rule);
  • Free-of-charge business coaching (optional) in order to support and enhance the firm’s innovation capacity and help align the project to strategic business needs;
  • Access to a wide range of innovation support services and facilitated access to risk finance, to facilitate the commercial exploitation of the innovation.

Phased Support

Feasibility assessment (phase 1) – optional

Funding is available for: exploring and assessing the technical feasibility and commercial potential of a breakthrough innovation that a company wants to exploit and commercialize.

Activities funded could be: risk assessment, design or market studies, intellectual property exploration; the ultimate goal is to put a new product, service or process in the market, possibly through an innovative application of existing technologies, methodologies, or business processes.

The project should be aligned to the business strategy, helping internal growth or targeting a transnational business opportunity.

Amount of funding: lump sum of €50,000 (per project, not per participating business).

Duration: typically around 6 months

Outcome: The outcome of a phase 1 project is a feasibility study (technical and commercial), including a business plan.

Should the conclusion of the study be that the innovative concept has the potential to be developed to the level of investment readiness/market maturity, but requires additional funding in view of commercialisation, the SME can apply for Phase 2 support.

Innovation project (phase 2)

Funding is available for: innovation projects underpinned by a sound and strategic business plan (potentially elaborated and partially funded through phase 1 of the SME Instrument).

Activities funded in phase 2 can be of several types: prototyping, miniaturisation, scaling-up, design, performance verification, testing, demonstration, development of pilot lines, validation for market replication, including other activities aimed at bringing innovation to investment readiness and maturity for market take-up.

Amount of funding: in the indicative range of €500,000 – € 2.5 million or more (covering up to 70% of eligible costs, or in exceptional, specific cases up to 100%).

Duration: typically around 1 to 2 years


  • a new product, process or service that is ready to face market competition;
  • a business innovation plan incorporating a detailed commercialisation strategy and a financing plan in view of market launch (e.g. on how to attract private investors, if applicable).

Commercialisation (phase 3)

With the view of facilitating the commercial exploitation of the innovation activities resulting from phase 1 or phase 2, specific activities will be proposed. These can include support for further developing investment readiness, linking with private investors and customers through brokerage activities, assistance in applying for further EU risk finance, and a range of other innovation support activities and services offered via the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).


Optional Innovation and Business Development Coaching is offered in parallel throughout phases 1 and 2 to help SMEs:

  •  enhance the company’s innovation capacity
  •  align the project to the identified business development strategy
  •  develop the commercial/economic impact and long term sustainability.

Coaching is provided by experienced business coaches, selected through the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).

To find more information and apply click HERE

Thanks for reading

Travis Paxton


Enterprise Capital Fund – Access £100K to £5M

Enterprise Capital Fund – Access £100K to £5M

Six Pathfinder Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) were created by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) (previously the DTI and BERR), following competitive bidding in 2005. Each fund invests in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking equity funding in the ‘equity gap’ (up to £2 million). The Dawn Capital Fund was appointed to run one of these ECFs and was initially awarded £25 million of government funding.

The Dawn Capital Fund has been created by a group of successful entrepreneurs and experienced fund managers to invest throughout the UK, with an investment focus on traditional industries where pioneering companies are able to adopt innovative technology to improve products and services.

Dawn Capital are angel and institutional investors that have collectively invested in over 100 companies. Having profitably managed significant portfolios during the recent downturn, they have experienced first-hand the difficulty that even outstanding early-stage companies face in raising start-up capital, or established companies face in raising modest amounts (sub £2 million) of development capital. They came together in 2005 to specifically address this ‘equity gap’.

Applications may be submitted at any time


Key Criteria

  • SMEs based in the UK are eligible to apply, or where the investment will be of benefit to the UK economy.
  • ECFs will not be permitted to invest in the following sensitive sectors for which the guidelines on state aid and risk capital do not apply:
  • Synthetic fibres and yarns.
  • Motor vehicles.
  • Steel – ECSC products.
  • Steel – non-ECSC products.
  • The production of agricultural and fisheries products listed in Annex I referred to in Article 32 of the EC Treaty.

Eligible Expenditure – Capital Projects

Restrictions to follow

  • ECFs will not be permitted to invest in the following sensitive sectors for which the guidelines on state aid and risk capital do not apply:
  • Synthetic fibres and yarns.
  • Motor vehicles.
  • Steel – ECSC products.
  • Steel – non-ECSC products.
  • The production of agricultural and fisheries products listed in Annex I referred to in Article 32 of the EC Treaty.

Application Procedure

Contact Dawn Capital for further information. Dawn Capital



If you need any support in helping access this grant then please get in touch, we would be happy to help.

  • Don’t forget that if you get the funds we can also help you get further money back through the R&D Tax Credit scheme – a double win.

Thanks for reading.

Stephen Paxton

WBS – To What Level?

WBS – To What Level?

Here is an approach through questioning I suggest to help a project to start to construct a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) to the right level of detail, quickly understand the risks against it and start to understand the resources to be applied.

Determining the Appropriate WBS level of detail is vital, it helps you establish correct level of detail to help you monitor and control your project(s) so you really understand “whats going on”

Should the WBS be decomposed further or are you at the correct level?

Questions for consideration:

  • Is there a need to improve the accuracy of the cost and duration, estimates of the WBS element?
  • Is more than one individual or group responsible for the WBS element? While there may be a variety of resources assigned to a WBS element, there should be one individual assigned overall responsibility for the deliverable created during the completion of the WBS element.
  • Does the WBS elements content include more than one type of work process or more than one deliverable?
  • Is there a need to precisely know the timing of work processes internal to the WBS element?
  • Is there a need to separately define the cost of work processes or deliverables internal to the WBS element?
  • Are their dependencies between deliverables within a WBS element to another WBS element?
  • Are there significant time gaps in the execution of the work processes internal to the WBS element?
  • Do resource requirements change over time within a WBS element?
  • Do prerequisites differ among internal deliverables within the WBS element?
  • Are clear, objective criteria missing for measuring progress for the WBS element?
  • Are there acceptance criteria applicable before the completion of the entire WBS element?
  • Are there specific risks that require focused attention to a portion of the WBS element?
  • Can a portion of the work to be performed within the WBS element be scheduled as a unit?

The Relationship between Project Risk and the WBS

The following questions should be addressed for each WBS element when considering project risk:

  • Are the deliverables completely and clearly defined?
  • Will the quality of the work be evaluated through efforts such as testing and inspection?
  • What is the likelihood of change?
  • Is the technology changing faster than the project can be accomplishes?
  • Have manpower, facilities capability, availability of internal resources, and potential suppliers been checked?
  • Is extensive subcontracting expected?
  • Is management committed to the project and will they provide the support needed?
  • Are requirements defined and approved?
  • Has a formal change process been defined and implemented?
  • Have metrics been defined for how the deliverables will be measured?
  • Have resource requirements been identified for development of the project deliverables?
  • Have other risks been identified, including stakeholder buy-in, public relations, management approval, team understanding, and project opposition?
  • Has a communication plan (internal and external) been defined and implemented
  • Are third-party dependencies understood and monitored for change?
  • Have alternate suppliers of required products, supplies, or expertise been identified?

Resource Planning and Management

In order to prepare for adequate resource planning against the WBS, consider the following when examining the WBS level of detail:

  • Is all the work planned to a degree of detail necessary to make and keep commitments?
  • Is they’re an ability to establish and mange individual work assignments with the reporting structure indicated by this WBS?
  • Can work assignments be established from a progressive expansion of the WBS?
  • How will work generally be assigned and controlled?
  • Will it be possible to reconcile individual work assignments to the formal scheduling system?
  • How will budgets be established?
  • Will it be possible to relate the budget to the proposed work assignments?
  • Is the level of detail in the WBS appropriate for effective planning and control?
  • Is the work defined by the WBS grouped in a logical manner?
  • Is more than one organisation involved (indicating the need to validate the WBS with others before doing detailed resource planning)?
  • How will the status of work in progress be determined?

If I can offer and assistance in this area then please feel free to ask.

Thanks for reading.

Contact: stephen.paxton@proddio.com

Government Launches £2 Million Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Fleet Support Grant Scheme (UK)

Government Launches £2 Million Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Fleet Support Grant Scheme (UK)

The Government has launched the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Fleet Support Scheme; a competition designed to encourage more businesses to switch to hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

The scheme will allow local authorities, health trusts, police forces, fire brigades and private companies to bid for funding to add hydrogen-powered vehicles to their fleets. The fund could bring up to 100 more hydrogen fuel cell cars and vans onto the country’s roads by next spring – the equivalent of tripling the number of vehicles currently in use.

Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have the potential to feature significantly in the future automotive low emission vehicle landscape in a portfolio of solutions, alongside battery electric vehicles. FCEVs offer an attractive consumer proposition in terms of long driving range and short refuelling times and with zero CO2 and pollutant emissions at the tailpipe.

The competition aims to support the early development of the market for FCEVs as a technology that has a strategic role in helping deliver the Government’s ambition that almost all new cars and vans will be zero tailpipe emission vehicles by 2040.

From a total budget of £2 million, funding will be awarded via two separate streams, each of which will support up to 75% of costs of new vehicles bought by April 2017 as well as the cost of running them for up to three years.

  • Stream 1 (Public Sector Fleets): This will provide support to public sector bodies for deployment of FCEVs in public sector fleets that are not in competition with commercial activity. It will fund up to 75% of the total cost of procuring FCEVs, insurance, fleet management, vehicle servicing, user training, fuel, project reporting and dissemination.
  • Stream 2 (private enterprise): This will provide support to private enterprises, up to a maximum of €200,000 per enterprise, for up to 75% of the total cost of procuring FCEVs, insurance, fleet management, vehicle servicing, user training, fuel, project reporting and dissemination.


The following costs and activities will be eligible for funding. Applicants may choose to apply for funding for some or all of these costs:

  • Vehicle procurement cost whether via outright purchase, leasing or rental
  • FCEV fleet management costs
  • FCEV servicing costs
  • FCEV insurance costs
  • Driver familiarisation and education
  • Hydrogen fuel costs
  • Project evaluation, reporting and dissemination activity


Bids must be submitted by 4pm on Monday 4 July 2016.

Speaking about the new programme, Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:

We are always looking at new ways to make the vehicles of the future cleaner, and hydrogen fuel cells are an important part of our vision for almost all cars and vans to be zero-emission by 2050.

This funding, along with the growing network of hydrogen refuelling stations opening in England, will help businesses and the public sector to get on board with this exciting technology. This is further proof that we are leading the way in making journeys cleaner and protecting the environment.”

Further details can be accessed at the GOV.uk website


If you need any support in helping access this grant then please get in touch, we would be happy to help.

  • Don’t forget that if you get the grant we can also help you get further money back through the R&D Tax Credit scheme – a double win.

Thanks for reading.

Stephen Paxton


Risk Management Process: Is yours Effective?

Risk Management Process: Is yours Effective?

I find this a very handy tool and while it is not exhaustive, no check list should be – I suggest it is a very good starting point to start.

NOTE: This checklist can be used from different perspectives such as:

  • before, or during staged reviews
  • when preparing for, or carrying out internal and external risk audits
  • when considering a new initiative, such as a major project, entering a new acquisition lifecycle
  • when progress reporting to corporate Finance or Treasury
  • when preparing to raise commitment to improving the existing process.

Key elements

Elements needed for the effective risk management risk and the indicators of a successful process include:

  • policies for the management of risk and the benefits of effective risk management are clearly communicated to staff
  • senior management support, promote, own and lead on risk management
  • there is an organisational culture that supports well thought-through risk taking and innovation
  • management of risk is fully embedded in the management process of the organisation, including the associated controls and distribution of management information
  • the identification and assessment of risk is aimed at actively managing the key risks to the achievement of objectives
  • the risks posed by working with other organisations are assessed.

Review of overall effectiveness

  • Is management of risk implemented across the organisation to all line management and business management, as well as project and programme management?
  • Is there a formal documented policy for the management of risk? Does the policy address the following:
    • the corporate view of risk management?
    • processes and procedures?
    • the desired benefits to be achieved?
    • roles and responsibilities?
    • facilities/tools required?
    • documentation standards?
  • Is the management of risk policy regularly reviewed?
  • Are business continuity and contingency plans in place in the event that risks result in adverse consequences?
    • Are these plans tested (regularly reviewed and re-tested)?
    • Are those responsible aware of their roles with regard to each plan?
    • Is there a clearly identified authority to make the decision to implement the plan?
    • Are copies of the plan held off-site? (and still accessible in an emergency?)
  • Is there increasing visibility of risk and appropriate communication to staff so they understand their responsibility for being alert to risks?
    • Are staff being trained or receiving guidance in risk management?
    • Are risks being raised to the appropriate level?
    • Are major risks assigned owners?
    • Are you applying existing approaches/practices to address risk problems?
    • Are you following the standard processes and procedure for addressing problems in managing risk?
  • Is there clear identification of types/categories of risk?
  • Are risk evaluation criteria clearly identified and articulated?
    • Are risk responsibilities assigned for reporting and managing identified risks?
    • Is the effectiveness of risk treatments monitored and reviewed?
    • Is there appropriate communication and consultation with others within your organisation and with stakeholders?
  • Is the risk documentation appropriate?
  • Is the documentation consistent throughout?
  • Where appropriate, are you following the risk profile model in accordance with Cabinet Office guidelines?
  • Is risk management ongoing and integrated with other procedures?

Risk Management so vital in any endeavour and yet so many organisations pay lip service to it!   Using this simple tool will provoke thought and provide material to discuss – after all discussion and communication that leads so identification of potential problems has to be a good thing – right?

Any support on this subject is available, just ask.

Thanks for reading.

Contact: stephen.paxton@proddio.com

Build Your Leadership Confidence

Build Your Leadership Confidence

As a leader it’s not always easy to understand what makes you a good leader or have the confidence to do the things you know you should, how would you rate your leadership confidence?

  • I wish I had some
  • I am okay, but would like to be more confident
  • I am in total control!

While you maybe are quite capable, do you seem unable to achieve all that you desire because of a lack of the very necessary attribute of confidence?

Here are a few tips that can elevate your confidence and turn you into the CONFIDENT LEADER you are meant to be.

  1. Increase your competence.You can do this by reading and learning everything you can get your hands on that is relevant to your industry or specialty. Years ago when in university while researching for a masters in project management I learned that if I read just one hour a day about something related to my specific are of interest, I would very soon become an expert in this area. I cannot tell you how important this advice was for me. Reading increases one’s knowledge, knowledge increases one’s competence; and competence increases one’s confidence! Great authors like Robins, Covey, Cranfield and the list goes on to support this – put this into action and it really does work.
  2. Teach what you learn.Find someone who is interested or needs to know what you have just learned. It is a fact that when you teach what you have learned with 24-48 hours you retain significantly more of what you have read over the long-term (Find out more in the great read – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey). Find a way or make a way to teach what you learn as soon as possible. You won’t believe the difference it will make to you and how it will increase your confidence level.
  3. Find opportunities to speak in public.Maybe you aren’t quite ready for the big stage, but you do have opportunities to sit on boards or committees. Take these opportunities whenever you can, but don’t just sit there. Speak up when you have something relevant to offer. Start by asking questions, and then move into offering solutions (Principle 5, first seek to understand before being understood, Covey). You will soon become a most valuable member of the group; you will gain respect from other members and increase your leadership confidence!
  4. Join Toastmasters. Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development with over 300,000 members worldwide. This membership will not only help you become a good public speaker, it will train you to have confidence to speak about just about any topic quickly and effectively. The Toastmaster exercises will help you become “quick on your feet!” You will also build up your confidence in a way that you cannot yet imagine. Just do it!
  5. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone.Understand that everyone has a comfort zone. The only difference between you and a highly recognised leader – someone you want to emulate – is the broadness of the comfort zone. Confident Leaders are forever growing and expanding their skills and knowledge.

Become the person who is always on the “grow.” Read daily, Teach what you learn quickly. Speak in public and step out of your comfort zone. Increase your competence, improve your confidence and elevate the impact you have on others.

I work with innovators, entrepreneurs, business executives, leaders and emerging leaders. Most of my clients are looking for ways to improve both productivity and their bottom line. I help businesses increase profits by moving the comfort zones in a supportive manner, expanding the possibilities available to clients and improving understanding, easily and effectively. My strategies have a significant impact on redirecting the focus of organisations toward positive outcomes rather than negative expectations.

Thanks for reading.

Contact: stephen.paxton@proddio.com