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Factsheets: a tailor-made guide for Copernicus entrepreneurs

Copernicus Observer

Finance is the fuel that allows business ideas to grow.


Entrepreneurs need funds to turn great ideas into great products and services that add value to the society.


A brand-new resource is made available by the European Commission for those businesses - detailed factsheets that help navigate the financial opportunities available.


The factsheets are tailored for the Copernicus ecosystem and encompass financing for start-ups from the idea stage to commercialisation, up to expansion.



When starting your own business venture, there are few things that need to be just right: the right idea, that is feasible and has a prospective market; the right time, as some innovations fade away just because they were ahead of their times; and the right people, a complementary team that will make this idea come true. And of course money. While there are many opinions on what a good idea is, or how one should recruit a dream-team, every entrepreneur will agree that finding money is difficult and time consuming.


To help start-ups and scale-ups with gathering funding, the European Commission developed brand new factsheets that help navigate the financial opportunities that the European Union provides. No matter what stage of your entrepreneurship journey you are at - there are instruments available. You will not need to read through hundreds of pages of documentation – this is your shortcut to understanding the available financing options and how to apply for them. Moreover, this material is tailored to the Copernicus ecosystem. The European Commission wants to make sure that the entrepreneurs wishing to take advantage of the full, free and open access to Copernicus Sentinel data and services will benefit from the tools available.


Before diving into the details of each tool, you will need to first assess your maturity on the entrepreneurship timeline - do you have an initial idea, or is your product or service market-ready. Maybe you are looking for an investment to expand your business? Answering this question will allow you to narrow down the instruments that are most appropriate for you.



At what stage are you? Credits: European Commission



Initial Idea 


If you are just starting out with an idea and you are not sure yet if there is a market for your business or whether a sizeable amount of R&D is still needed, a public funding instrument would be a good choice: Horizon 2020 grants, ESA ARTES 20, SME Instrument Phase 1, and EU Innovation Procurement. In these factsheets, you will find more details about each funding source, and you will be able to choose the one best suited to your venture or project.


If you are ready to get your feet wet in the start-up world and you have a scalable idea, then Business Angels, Incubators, Accelerators and Competitions would be your first choice. There are a large number of different incubators, accelerators and competitions both internationally and at national level.  Check the fact sheets for more information.



Business Plan & Marketable product


If you are a step ahead and have a honed strategic business plan or have developed a marketable product or  service (at least in the MVP - Minimum Viable Product - stage), new tools open up. These include EU funding instruments such as the Horizon Prize, Eurostars Grants, SME Instrument Phase 2, COSME Programme, Horizon 2020 Fast Track to Innovation Pilot from the EU funding schemes. Horizon 2020 Grants, ESA ARTES 20, and EU Innovation Procurement tools apply for this stage as well.


From the private sector, besides the previously mentioned Business Angels, Incubators, Accelerators and Competitions, you can seek funding from Equity Crowdfunding and Venture Capital. The last one is recommended for use at slightly later stage of the entrepreneurship timeline, when you have a working prototype of a product or service that has been put through some testing with your target customer base.





Earning revenue is the make or break of any business. You can have a great idea that people love and want to use, but if nobody is willing to pay for it more than the cost of developing that product or providing that service, it won't work. To get your business through this difficult step, the EU offers these options: European Investment Bank Intermediated Loans, SME Instrument Phase 3 and European Fund for Strategic Investment. Note that some of the previously mentioned tools can still apply at this stage: EU Innovation Procurement, COSME Programme, Horizon 2020 Fast Track to Innovation Pilot, Horizon Prize, Eurostars Grants.


Having your product or service ready and proven, you can go for Venture Capital or Equity Crowdfunding options with confidence. More than ever, you will need to prepare well for your investor meetings and presentations.





At this stage, you have shown that you are monetising your product or service. Now business development happens – team expansion, sales, advertising, marketing. At this stage, your start-up or scale-up starts looking more like a serious business than the small-team operation it was before. The expansion also includes further stages, where you might want to scale globally, acquire another company, etc.


The EU funding has gotten you through all the previous stages and now as your business is standing firm, there are fewer options for public financing (which leaves the resources to other start-ups, so that more great ideas can come to life). You can still seek European Investment Bank Intermediated Loans, European Fund for Strategic Investment, and COSME Programme funding.


On the other hand, due to lower investment risk, the private sector becomes a more viable option. You can go for Venture Capital that deals with later stage investments, Private Equity, Business Loans, and Debt Crowdfunding.




We hope that these tools will shed a light on the financing options available and guide you to the ones you need most. If you have any questions - don't hesitate to contact the Copernicus Support Office via email or phone.

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