CBE JU consortium own contribution

] – Writing BBI JU Proposals

Writing Competitive BBI JU (CBE JU) Proposals - requirements beyond Horizon 2020 (HE)

An updated version of this article specifically applicable to CBE JU and Horizon Europe can be found here

While the normal Horizon 2020 rules and evaluation criteria apply in terms of  writing BBI JU proposals across Excellence, Impact and Implementation sections, BBI JU, as a public-private partnership (PPP), have additional requirements that must be taken into consideration when developing your proposals. This post overviews some of these additional criteria and will focus mainly on RIA actions, while also highlighting some important differences between RIAs and IAs.

Firstly, it’s important to be cognisant of the fact that the individual call topic text and standard evaluation criteria are just part of the message in terms of what needs to be addressed in the proposal. IFor example, RIAs, notwithstanding the lower TRL, must address environmental assessment using LCA methodology as well as conduct an economic performance viability check. Other aspects to consider include potential safety hazards, complementarity with other projects, biomass sustainability, biodiversity preservation, etc., all of which must be addressed by all actions within Excellence section in a meaningful and substantive manner. The point is, it’s important to read the “small print” here that goes far beyond the individual topic text and standard evaluation criteria, as failure to address these aspects will likely result in lower scoring and an uncompetitive proposal. RIAs must also state the starting and end TRLs, and a point to bear in mind here is that going beyond the typical end project TRL5 level for an RIA will not be viewed positively as it may be deemed to have been more appropriately categorised as an IA action.

BBI JU proposals - differing requirements between RIAs and IAs

Table 3 in the AWP gives a useful comparative overview of requirements across the three different action types. For example, while RIAs need to include an economic performance viability check, IAs must include a detailed Business Plan. Requirements for this are included in the Guide for Applicants. It bears highlighting that while this plan will be hidden away somewhat in the Technical Annex Section 4-5 (no page limits), it will be rigorously evaluated under Implementation (rather than, as might be expected, Impact).

One aspect that seems to have heightened emphasis this year is the requirement for the business plan “to seek an appropriate integration and remuneration of primary biomass producers”.

IA proposers, please don’t cobble together your business plan at the last minute as a poor quality business plan will be evaluated as a significant weakness and this section will likely be scored below threshold!

Another differentiating feature between RIAs and IAs to keep in mind is the extent of coverage of the value chain. For IAs, you must cover the full value chain from feedstock (SO1) to market uptake (SO4). RIAs, on the other hand, focus on developing a solution to a technological barrier within a specific part of the value chain, while “clearly showing the impact for the whole value chain”.

Within the very important Impact section (weighted 1.5 in BBI JU), individual topic descriptions now describe a wider range of specific expected impacts across four types. In addition to topic specific KPIs, social, environmental and economic impacts are detailed for each topic, with an emphasis on quantitative targets.

CBE JU proposals - additional requirements over Horizon Europe

Consortium own contribution

Perhaps the feature of BBI-JU calls over and above other Horizon 2020 programmes that impacts most in terms of presenting unique challenges for consortia developing proposals is the issue of “consortium own contribution” which is a key evaluation consideration under Impact. This can be allocated across three types – in-kind, cash transfer and additional investments, with the latter being specifically a requirement for IAs. This would seem to be particularly challenging for RIAs as they, notwithstanding the zero funding rate for large industry (70% in IAs), are still required to show a significant leveraging of industry own contribution. RIA proposers should not be in any doubt that if they don’t meet this leveraging expectation, their impact will be down-scored and they are unlikely to be successful.

The real ‘elephant in the room’ here is that the extent of this own contribution is left somewhat open to interpretation, being at a level that will “help maximising the impact of the action.” Bearing in mind the relatively low TRL ceiling for RIAs, which in turn precludes a significant amount of large scale demo trials; it would seem particularly challenging to formulate budgets showing significant costs relating to, for example, engineering costs, equipment depreciation costs, raw material, water and energy costs, etc. Such other direct costs (D2, D3), which seem more justifiable for larger scale demo activity, can form the basis of a significant industry own contribution, thereby perhaps enabling IAs to more readily meet this maximal impact expectation.