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Supporting the next EU champions: the 'ins and outs' of IPCEIs


Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs) are one of the tools the EU can use to reach strategic autonomy in key industries. These projects represent a collective effort to build up entire European value chains. 

Considering the different realities across Member States, building an IPCEI is an impressive work of reaching a common ground in identifying objectives, targets and projects that answer to the most stringent common problems in Europe today. The large number of stakeholders involved in building an IPCEI – governments, industry, academia – is one of the main reasons the process usually takes more than one year. 

What makes an IPCEI different to other funding programmes?

State aid support for projects put forth by industry has a long history in Europe. Each country has designed its own support mechanisms to address specific market failures and incentivize their economies. In addition, programmes managed in Brussels offer significant funding to very early-stage research that could benefit all Europeans.

In this context, why are IPCEIs necessary? 
The EU funding landscape is known for working in silos. Member States offer funding to projects developed on their own territories, even if it might replicate a project already implemented beyond its borders. Centrally managed programmes offer support for research but stop short of funding technology deployments

IPCEIs support projects with a strong research component that is further developed up to first industrial deployment. IPCEIs lend a hand to emerging technologies and products throughout the entire product development cycle – from research to piloting and first-in-kind products.

In short, IPCEIs go beyond the scope of both centrally-managed or national research support programmes today. 
In addition, IPCEIs do not target the industry of a single Member State and their impact is not limited to a single national territory. On the contrary, a minimum of four Member States need to join forces to build an IPCEI. The most recent IPCEI on Microelectronics II saw 22 countries collaborating to solve the chips and microelectronics shortage.

IPCEIs reach across borders, reduce the risk of having redundant projects happening in parallel in several Member States and encourage synergies across ecosystems. 
A typical national research support programme can offer up to € 40 million depending on the type of research conducted without having to notify the aid to the European Commission. The aid intensity also depends on the type of research activities involved.

IPCEIs have no maximum threshold for the aid or aid intensity that can be awarded. 
The grant offered is individually calculated based on the financial needs of each project, meaning that the riskiest projects can obtain up to 100% financing. The typical grant offered hovers around € 100 million: well above what national programmes offer.

Lessons learned: building a successful IPCEI 

As IPCEI popularity grows, so does the competition between projects submitted for support. The most recent calls for projects for hydrogen and microelectronics saw hundreds of projects submitted to Member States. Besides the technical criteria used to evaluate the projects, a few other factors play an important role:

Start early

There are several stages to the IPCEI process. The first ones might not seem very complicated but you are laying the groundwork for the full proposal you will be asked to develop. The clearer the picture you build from the very beginning, the smoother the process will run and the higher the chances of success.

Build internal buy-in

Make sure all key personnel is aware of what the IPCEIs are and are committed to building your project. Get management support - but build a strong operational team as well, covering technical, financial and legal aspects. Having all the necessary staff involved early on saves time and avoids the need to re-do work later.

Engage with participants

No IPCEI project is developed as a stand-alone investment. In fact, being able to prove the project benefits other companies, industries and use cases is one of the IPCEI key requirements. Start engaging within your industry at EU level early on to find synergies with other projects.

How can we help?

Europe is only now developing its expertise in successfully using IPCEIs. Being able to offer early intel on the process, the stakeholders involved and the possibilities IPCEIs offer has become one of our core strengths. 

We can support your team in building an IPCEI submission and help connect your projects with relevant stakeholders.

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