CEIGS Grants.... Worth the Effort?
Updated: Oct 19, 2021
CEIGS ANALYSIS and THOUGHTS.
If you’re considering applying for funding from the Government’s newly minted CEIGS scheme then read on.
If you’re wondering what it’s about, just read the first few paragraphs.
Let’s start with an extract from the recent Government announcement: ‘ …… the Circular Economy Innovation Grant Scheme (CEIGS) will support projects and enterprises that are helping us transition to a #CircularEconomy and grow the space across Ireland. Ensuring we get a long life from our materials will minimise our impact and maximise our resilience. #HaveYourSay on how this strategy can ensure a green recovery, with viable enterprise opportunities and cleaner, more sustainable communities, homes, and businesses.’
WHAT is CEIGS?
This is a new grant scheme administered directly by DECC. It is separate from and additional to the EPA’s Green Enterprise Innovation for Circular Economy Scheme which will , we are promised, launch its own call for 2021 applications shortly. The purpose of this proposed grants scheme is to provide support to projects which work in the Circular Economy space with the aim of both advancing the Circular Economy in Ireland and raising awareness of the need to transition to the Circular Economy.
Supported projects should in principle
be replicable by others, of at least demonstration scale,
raise awareness of the circular economy and/or
have a significant impact on material or waste streams.
The application process
The form is a 4 page application form with mainly free text project description to be filled in with proposed costs and sources of funding. There is a 13 page guide explaining how to apply, the background to the scheme, eligibility, reporting requirements and the preferences and scoring scheme. Deadline for receipt of completed application forms is : 5pm 28 May 2021.
The main points
COMPETITIVE . Firstly it is a competitive application for funding based on points awarded to your application. WHO. While the CEIGS is aimed at social enterprises, voluntary, community organisations and small/medium businesses there is 10% bonus for NGO/Voluntary/Community/Social. (Note. The guide is unclear if this is a straight extra 10% added or a 10% of scores achieved). FUND SIZE. In contrast to the pre-announcement hype the total CEIGS fund is just €250,000 for the 2021 call. MAX AWARD. 100% of eligible project costs are covered subject to Project max cap. The maximum funding available is €50,000 per applicant, so only a max of 5 projects will be selected if the top grant amounts are awarded to worthy projects. However, the indicative funding range for projects is €10,000 – €50,000. So it would appear that the expectations are rather modest with this level of project funding anticipated. It is not dissimilar to the Local Enterprise Offices funding levels. This contrasts with the quest for BIG ideas that DECC claims to seek.
⦁ It is proposed to fund a small number of larger scale projects rather than a large number of small projects. Accordingly, very small scale projects (below €5,000 in cost) should look to the Community Environment Action Fund/Local Agenda 21 for funding rather than seek funding from the CEIGS. ⦁ It may be that they will opt to offer many projects small amounts to maximize the spread and geography, but this tends to yield poor and trivial results.
DECISION. Winning projects will be decided on a basis of scored points in four criteria and the marking scheme is outlined in the guide. TYPE OF PROJECT.Projects should be at least demonstration scale with a clear vision for full-scale implementation and/or for sharing findings across collaborative clusters. APPEAL. There is no mention of any appeal process for applicants that are unhappy with their score PROJECT DURATION. Normally should be completed within 12-24 months but max is 36 months.
The CEIGS is aimed at social enterprises, voluntary and community organisations and small/medium businesses (defined as those with less than 50 employees). It aims to create and assist circular economy projects and enterprises, thus growing the sector and providing demonstrable examples to others of good practice. This fund is not aimed at large scale businesses. The projects funded shall incorporate at least one of the features of the circular economy described in the guide.
Registration and application
Applicants must be made by completing the application form and submitting it to email@example.com by the deadline of 28th May 2021. Queries in relation to the call should also be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org The deadline for queries is 21st May 2021.
An indicative timeframe for this call is shown in the guide ⦁ 30th June 2021 . Evaluation process completed, applicants notified. ⦁ 1st September 2021. Successful projects grant-awarded
All projects selected for funding should normally be completed within 12-24 months. Projects must be completed within 36 months. If your project is expected to last longer than 12 months you must set out your annual funding requirement.
CEIGS funding is intended to support up to 100% of eligible project costs. Eligible and non-eligible costs are set out in the guide.
Evaluation Criteria Marks
Technical quality: objectives, impact, value for money 30%
Relevance to the call topic areas and to the principles of the WAPCE 20%
Scalability for widespread implementation and/or transferability Potential across sectors 20%
Project management capability of the team 20%
NGO/Voluntary/Community/Social Enterprise Bonus 10% Proposals must attain a minimum of 40% of the maximum score for each of the first four criteria above.
So, is it worth the effort?
Well , yes and no. That depends on who you are really. The amount of grant envisaged will limit the scale and costs of proposals. Expectations will be lowered and this will curtail the depth of experimental or pilot trials of new technology. Similarly the scale of trials will be small. This would require enterprises to self fund a greater proportion of costs, which may not be attractive to them.
Knowing that the NGO sector is favoured for this scheme may dissuade technology companies engaging. Options similar to the Horizon 2020 scheme may emerge. NGOs and community groups may partner with eligible enterprises to propose projects that involve technology innovation with a pilot user group for validation. Registered legal status ,with Tax clearance, is required to apply, so many of the informal community groups will be prohibited. We may see a lot of relatively low cost proposals from NGO’s biased towards training, surveys, education, evangelisation activities. None of these will deliver truly BIG ideas or major innovations.
To get better, more impactful outcomes the levels of funding need to be higher to accurately reflect the costs of new technology, capital equipment, professional support ,design, development and delivery. NGO’s and community groups have limited resources and cash. The effort and time required to enlist project partners and sponsors is considerable. Then to prepare a successful project application and put a reporting process in place, under short time pressure, (not a trivial effort) may prove the first and fatal hurdle for some consortia.
To stand a better chance of getting truly novel , scalable and innovative projects launched would require at least double the levels of funding unless some large sponsors can be added to the mix at short notice.
Our verdict: Tosach maith! ach…too little financial support for what are very ambitious aims.
Suggestions to improve.
APPEALS. There will undoubtedly be unhappy unsuccessful bidders as in any competitive tender. So the need for an easy to operate appeals process is clear and should be offered. ( In my 5 years experience of this within EU Interreg programmes I found it essential to have a clear appeals process in place, time bound , transparent, and it works well in practice. The CEIGS scheme could copy such procedures.)
TRANSPARENCY. Results and full details of all scores should be published along with the cash awards made to each applicant. (this will be sought in any case through applicant FOI requests so save the time and be transparent from the start.)
For more info go to Government website here