Three tips to write a winning application

Writing, submitting and obtaining grants for your organization can be a challenging and stressful experience. Especially at the beginning, several topics need to be addressed: where to start, which narrative to use and how to convey the importance of a project or idea that you passionately believe in.

In this article, we give you three good tips to improve your application and increase the chance of a successful application. Ready?

1. Are you the right fit?

Make sure you understand the agency grant program and check your eligibility. Read the call for proposals carefully and make sure your idea and/or your project fit the selection criteria. Compromising to fit a fund is not advised, whereas looking for potential funders who value what you want to achieve should be your goal.

Good planning and a clear understanding of your project beforehand will increase the chance of finding a matching fund and writing a winning application.

2. Which story are you going to tell?

Once you have picked the fund, make sure you know which story to tell before you start writing the application. Funders want to know that the money they give to projects will make a change in people’s lives. They need to understand the impact of the technology you describe. Solid data of course helps – but having a story and being able to tell it in a captivating, engaging and simple way can make a difference.

In short, your application should clearly tell your story in a consistent and easy to follow way. On top of that, it should be measured and translated into a measurable project plan with measurable success criteria.

3. Ask someone else to read your work

Having a fresh pair of eyes read your work and suggest some changes is a must. Towards the end of your application writing, set aside 24-48h to give others the chance to read through the application and give you feedback. This process will hardly be useless.

1st Mile provides consulting services for successful grant application since 2007. So far, we have helped fund more than 200 million euros for our clients’ highly innovative projects, both in Denmark and in the EU.

Thinking of applying for funding? Reach out to 1st Mile and get started! 


On the 25/03 the EU officially launched Horizon Europe’s Strategic Plan (2021-2024) which sets out key strategic orientations for the support of research and innovation. Horizon Europe is Europe’s largest research and innovation framework program running from 2021-2027.

This article provides an overview of one of Horizon Europe’s most important calls, the EIC Accelerator, as well as a step-by-step overview of how the new process is structured.  

01. The EIC Accelerator

What is it? 

The EIC Accelerator aims to support companies to scale up high impact innovations with the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing ones.

  • Develop high risk/high impact innovations. 
  • Have the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing ones. 
  • Build on scientific discovery or technological breakthroughs. 
  • Require significant funding over a long timeframe before returns can be generated.


  • Short application: recommendation at the beginning of April
  • Long application:  16th of June or 6th October 

02. Who can apply?

If you meet one of the following conditions: 

  • Single start-up or SME. 
  • Small mid-cap (up to 500 employees) established in an EU Member State or Associated Country. 
  • One or more natural persons or legal entities: 
    • EU Member State or Associated Country intending to establish an SME or small mid-cap in a Member State or Associated Country. 
    • Intending to invest in an SME or small mid-cap in a Member State or an Associated Country. 
    • From a non-associated third country and you are ready to establish an SME (including start-ups).

03. Which types of funding can you get?

The blended finance is composed of an investment and grant component: 

  • Investment component:  min. EUR 0.5 million and max. EUR 15 million. 
  • Grant Component: max. EUR 2.5 million. 

04. What will be assessed?

Short application

  1. Excellence: Degree of novelty and timing for the innovation. 
  2. Impact: potential to scale-up in societal, economic, environmental or climate impact. 
  3. Level of risk, implementation, and need for Union support: Team capability and motivation.

Long application

  1. Excellence: Technological feasibility (TRL 5/6 min); IPR; timing; the degree of novelty.
  2. Impact: scale-up potential; market analysis including competitive analysis; commercialization strategy; key partners, broader impact.
  3. Level of risk, implementation, and need for Union support: team, clear implementation plan; high investment risk; market risks assessed and mitigated.

05. Who will be assessing your proposals?

  • Remote Experts: Proposals are evaluated remotely at step 1 (short application) and step 3 (full application) by independent expert-evaluators selected from a proprietary database of the European Commission. Different profiles are selected to ensure a variety of high-level skills, knowledge and experience in different domains and sectors.
  • Jury Members: Jury members are going to assess your full proposal during step 4 (face-to-face interview). They have solid experience in different areas as entrepreneurs who have started and scaled- up innovative enterprises at the European or global level.  They will be allocated to a thematic panel of a maximum of 6 members.

06. How do you apply? Step by step process

STEP 1: Calls opens 18th of March

Register on the Funding and Tenders Portal (F&T portal) and obtain a 9-digit Participant Identification Code (PIC). 

STEP 2: EIC Accelerator – Short Application

Deadline: Recommended early in April.  

What should be summited? 

  1. Proposal information.
  2. Company and CEO information.
  3. A pitch-deck of up to 10 slides following a set format. 
  4. A (link to a) video pitch of up to 3 minutes where the core members of your team (up to three people) should provide the motivation for your application.
  5. A 5-page form describing the proposal and responding to a set of questions on the innovation, the potential market and the team.


Outcome: Within 4 weeks or less – outcome of the evaluation including detailed comments from the individual remote experts. There are two possible results: 

  • Not successful: 
    • 1st time rejected: resubmit short application improved. 
    • 2nd time rejected: you cannot resubmit the same application for 12 months. 
  • Successful: invited to prepare a full application (step 2).

STEP 3: Long Application

If you are invited to submit the full application, you will have to choose between: 

Open CallsThis call is for innovations in any field of technology and innovations that cut across different scientific, technological, sectoral and application fields or represent novel combinations.

Challenge Driven Calls:  These calls take into account EU priorities for transitioning to a green, digital and healthy society, as well as the overall for strategic planning for Horizon Europe, and the inputs of stakeholders, experts and the EIC pilot Advisory Board. 

Deadline: 9th of June (or 6th October)

What should be summited? 

Full application on the EIC artificial intelligence-based IT platform. This application includes: 

  1. Full business plan. 
  2. Full information on company finances and structure and type of funding you are applying. 
  3. Set of milestones to for the EIC to manage the funding. 


Outcome: Within 5 weeks from the cut-off date. Receive detailed feedback from the individual experts. There are two possible results: 

  • Not successful: 
    • 1st time rejected: resubmit full application improved in one of the next two cut offs.  
    • 2nd time rejected: you cannot resubmit the same application for 12 months. 
  • Successful: invited to next round. 

STEP 4: Face to face interviews with the EIC Jury 

When? 8-9 weeks after the cut-off date. Probably take place in September and December. The exact dates will be communicated in due time.

How? Will be assessed by a panel of a maximum of 6 jury members. Maximum of 40 minutes (10 minutes supported by the pitch, 30 minutes of questions and answers)


Outcome: Result 2-3 weeks after your interview. Possible results: 

  • Not successful: 
    • 1st time rejected: resubmit full application improved in one of the next two cut-offs.  
    • 1st time rejection and the jury decides is a potential GO after improvements: invited to resubmit to one of next two interview sessions. 
    • 2nd time rejected: you cannot resubmit the same application for 12 months. 


Thinking of applying? Reach out to 1stMile and get started! 

Here is a full overview of Guide for the Applicants. 


2021 Upcoming deadlines – Start now!

2020 was not the year most of us had planned and is – finally – coming to an end.

In 1st Mile, we were challenged by a few Covid-19 related extraordinary calls which tested our ability to jump into new, unexpected application formats and fields. We worked hard to secure funding for innovative solutions helping to fight the pandemic or to secure funding for companies in distress.

And what now? Covid-19 affected the normal timeline and schedule leading to the new, upcoming 2021 calls.
Below is an overview of open calls and upcoming deadlines in the next few months:

Open calls right now:

  1. European Green Deal call: the last Horizon 2020-funded European Green Deal Call is a €1 billion call for research and innovation projects that respond to the climate crisis and help protect Europe’s unique ecosystems and biodiversity.
    Deadline: 26th January 2021
    Additional information: Green Deal Call

2. is an initiative launched by Industriens Fond to assist SMEs in Denmark during the Covid-19 pandemic, by allocating DKK 150 mio to support companies in distress in different areas. 1st Mile offers 15, 30 or 50-hour free consulting packages on available funding opportunities.
Deadline: open for applicants until May 2021
Additional information: or contact Project Lead Heidi Ann Vorgaard Andersen, at

Upcoming deadlines:

  1. Horizon Europe:  the end of 2020 also marks the end of Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest research and innovation programme between 2014 and 2020. The Commission is already working on Horizon Europe, an ambitious €100 billion research and innovation programme running from 2021 to 2027 to succeed Horizon 2020.
    Calls for 2021 should have been in January 2021 but have been postponed due to Covid-19.
    Calls and deadlines: official calls are not out yet, but the first ones are likely to be at the beginning of June 2021
    Additional information: Horizon Europe

    – EIC Accelerator – SME Instrument:
    one of the many funding opportunities under the Horizon Europe umbrella, the EIC targets SMEs willing to identify, develop and deploy high-risk innovations of all kind. A particular focus is on breakthrough, market-creating and deep-tech innovations. The call offers up to € 2.5 million grant component for technology development and validation (e.g. TRL 5/6 to 8) and € 0.5 to EUR 15 million investment component for scaling up and any other activities
    Calls and deadlines: 9th June 2021 and 6th October 2021
    Additional information: EIC Accelerator – SME Instrument

  2. EUDP: the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program is a funding scheme under the Danish Energy Agency supporting private danish companies and universities to develop and demonstrate new and innovative energy technologies. The program supports a wide spectrum of green energy technologies and solutions.
    Calls and deadlines: official calls are not out yet, but the first ones are likely to be at the beginning of March
    Additional information: EUDP

3. Innovationsfonden: Innovation Fund Denmark invests in the best research and innovation projects with the potential to create knowledge, growth and employment in Denmark.

– Grand Solutions: Do you have a visionary and ambitious research project that makes a difference – even on a global scale Grand Solutions projects are characterised by a high-risk profile and focus on ambitious results with high-value creation whether in the form of new knowledge, improvement of/or new processes, systems, products or solutions to societal challenges.
Deadline: 11th February 2021
Additional information: IFGS

– Innobooster: Are you a company with a development project that can grow? Innobooster is a grant to companies that wish to develop and make a new product or service ready for the market or to improve a process that increases the company’s competitiveness and creates growth. The grant may help reduce the company’s project-related risks.
Application period: the official application period is not open yet, but is likely to open in January 2021
Additional information: Innobooster

4. The European Innovation Fund: are you a small-project working on clean energy and industry projects? The European Innovation fund is a € 100 million funding program targeting clean energy and clean industry projects that contribute to the green recovery of Europe’s economy and have total capital costs between € 2.5 and 7.5 million. Applicants can benefit from simplified one-stage application and selection procedures, and the fund grants.
Application period: the official application period is not open yet, but will be open until 10th March 2021
Additional information: Innovation Fund

5. Eurostars: Eurostars supports innovative development projects, product development and application of existing technology in new areas of SMEs. There must be a minimum of two partners from two different EU member countries in the project. Eurostars supports projects with up to EUR 300,000 for Danish applicants.
Deadline: 4th February 2021
Additional information: Eurostars