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EU funding FAQs

If you have a question which has not been answered here, get in touch:

The EU and SMEs FAQ

Can I still apply for EU funding after the Referendum result?

Yes, absolutely. UK applicants are eligible for EU funding up to 2020 until new arrangements are agreed. The NCC External funding team would urge potential applicants to make the most of the opportunity while it still exists and are here to help.


What types of organisation does the EU fund?

Any legally constituted organisation can benefit from EU funding, although each programme has its own eligibility rules. Some programmes, such as LEADER, and EAFRD are aimed directly at Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), and most ERDF projects involve the creation of initiatives to support SMEs to develop. Many EU funding opportunities are suited to universities, local authorities and other organisations which support growth and development in the wider community.


Why does the EU want to encourage SMEs to benefit from funding?

The focus for the 2014-20 EU funding programmes is the Europe 2020 agenda, which is all about jobs and growth - ensuring the EU's role as a global economic force - and it sees SMEs as fundamental to achieving healthy economic growth. Many EU funding programmes therefore seek to benefit SMEs, either as direct applicants or as the recipients of grant funding from an EU-supported grant scheme.


How does the EU define an SME?

The EU definition of an SME is an enterprise employing fewer than 250 people or with an annual turnover below 50 million euros, although there are additional technical requirements which would need to be considered prior to applying for funding.


What kind of work will the EU fund?

Every programme has different rules and priorities, but EU support could range from existing product and service development to the development of new products, or from delivering wider applications for university research expertise to specialist business support. The EU can also support organisations to develop partnerships across Europe, enabling them to share good practice and deliver joint benefits. Some EU programmes will support equipment and other capital investment to enable organisations to grow, and others support apprenticeships and workforce development. Go to the Funding by theme section to get ideas for funding sources which might suit your project.


Are there limits to how much funding I can get?

Every programme has different funding limits, and EU projects can range in size from a few thousand pounds to several million. You will almost always need match funding, but the percentage of match funding required will vary between programmes. The EU also has rules which prevent it from using funding to give individual companies and organisations a competitive advantage (State Aid), which can restrict the funding available.


What is the catch?

There are many ways of getting EU investment directly into your business or organisation. Some programmes, however, do not allow project applicants or partners to profit directly from EU funding, although being a partner may bring other benefits, such as access to research, or new relationships with other businesses.

You would need to take careful advice on the status of the Intellectual Property Rights in relation to any products developed using EU funds.

The application and claims process can be technical, but there is lots of help available to steer you through the process.


Do I have to work with businesses abroad to be eligible?

While there are some EU Programmes which require you to work with partners in other EU countries, there is a lot of funding which is specifically for UK projects.  Most of these opportunities are outlined in the Business growth, innovation and skills section.


How do I find out about EU-funded grant schemes or business support in East Anglia?

Check our EU-funded grant schemes section or talk to the Growth Hub Advisors, who will have an overview of business support and funding opportunities available and will put you in touch with key contacts for the relevant schemes.


How do I apply?

It is always best to speak to an EU funding specialist before submitting an application. Some programmes have local staff dedicated to working directly with applicants, and there is expertise available locally on all the key programmes. If you're not sure which programme is right for you, get in touch with us at and we will point you in the right direction.

To access any EU funding, you will need to complete an application form, and be prepared to submit funding claims with evidence of all relevant expenditure. You will also need to think about match funds and discuss the funding requirements with a specialist to ensure your project is likely to be a good fit.


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