Finding the right funding

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On the 13th of September, the Smart Specialisation Hub in collaboration with DCLG’s Interreg Team in Cambridge, GCGP LEP and New Anglia LEP convened an Innovation Funding event to explore project ideas and potential funding routes.

Interreg vs. domestic ERDF funding

Significant amounts of budget are still available to bid for in both Interreg and domestic ERDF programmes. To help you decide what the best funding vehicles are to take your particular project idea forward, we’d like to highlight the following key differences between Interreg and domestic ERDF funding.


In general, the following innovation themes for Interreg programmes are available to UK participants to bid into, which partly overlap with domestic ERDF topics: framework conditions for innovation, technological innovation, social innovation, low carbon, climate change adaptation, circular economy and resource efficiency.

As opposed to domestic ERDF funding, Interreg requires:

  • Project partners from different Member States;
  • A rationale why the project needs collaboration with European partners;
  • A focus not just on national / regional policy but across Europe.

In terms of funding, an Interreg project can attract between 60% and 70% ERDF funding and requires 30% – 40% own contribution.

Please note: Each Interreg programme covers a specific territory across Member States and thematic objectives vary across programmes. To find out more about currently open Interreg calls please click here.

Domestic ERDF

ERDF funding calls are split into various priority axes. The key ones related to innovation are:

Priority Axis 1: Strengthening Research, Technological Development and Innovation

Priority Axis 2: Enhancing access to, & use & quality of ICT

Priority Axis 3: Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs

Priority Axis 4: Supporting the shift towards a low carbon economy in all sectors

In terms of project basics for domestic ERDF calls:

  • Projects must have a minimum value of £1 million;
  • Project duration is maximum 3 years;
  • Up to 50% match funding is required in more developed areas (this varies for transitional and less developed regions);
  • Projects must demonstrate impact on a single or multi-LEP areas.

You can find out what ERDF calls are currently open and available in your LEP area on the GOV.UK website.

Develop your project idea: key questions you should ask

In a very engaging and interactive sand-pit session designed and prepared by Solveig Burfeind from DCLG’s Interreg Team in Cambridge, delegates at our event discussed and developed their project ideas. Group discussions focussed on the following five key questions, which are crucial to ask and answer not only when applying for ERDF funding, but for any type of funding. We hope you will find them useful to help structure and strengthen your application:

  1. What’s the challenge the project is trying to address/ what is the need / what is the demand?
  2. What is the change that the project could bring about / potential impact (also longer term)?
  3. What are the potential outputs (tangible and measurable)?
  4. What are the potential results (tangible and measurable)?
  5. What is the rationale for ERDF funding? What is new / different / the added value?

If you have any questions about any of the above or would like to discuss your project idea in confidence, please feel free to contact Viola Hay.

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