Grants are put in place for a purpose. That means applicants should not think ‘we need the money' but ensure their project meets the aims of the grant programme.

Business and industry support schemes are in place to encourage and strengthen companies, and grant providers want you to tell them how the funds they award will benefit your business.

Typical benefits sought are innovation, revenue growth and employment. Your application will need to describe the benefits achieved by developing new technology, such as greater international competitiveness.

Questions will include how revenue growth will be achieved and how growth and innovation will support employment?

The question of ‘benefit' becomes somewhat more complicated when addressing European Commission grants. Many EC grants are ‘collaborative' - they are given to consortia made up of a mixture of types of organisation from across Europe.

An example consortium would be a manufacturing company with a technical problem in R&D working with two universities and two end-user groups - five organisations from three to five member states. Our exemplar company bids to the EC, with its partners and has to answer the question ‘who benefits'?

The bid should explain how the company's new development will enter the market and how that will accelerate company growth and support employment. Credible modelling is needed.

Bids should demonstrate benefit to the principal partner and to each member of the consortium. Perhaps the funding will allow the university department to build its research team in a specific area or to publish more papers.

Similarly, with end user groups the benefit may be to directly influence product development and thus have access to better products in the future. From the EC and assessors' point of view the question arises ‘if partners don't benefit, why would they be involved?'

The EC expects two further benefits to be apparent. Firstly, any consortium needs to demonstrate whether it can achieve more by collaboration than it can alone. The extension of expertise and integration of wider knowledge needs highlighting. 

Secondly, the benefit of ‘legacy' needs to be explored and a strong case made. The consortium should not just come together like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,
as a funds liberation exercise - it must show a future beyond the grant.

This does not mean the whole consortium goes forward, but that suitable arrangements are in place to maintain parts of the relationship to enhance the benefits accrued. A good example would be a new product where an academic partner continues to meet regularly with a company development team to support further work on second and third generation products post market introduction.

There is one more beneficiary, often forgotten, which is the European Commission itself.

The Commission is in a long term battle with member states to justify expenditure on innovation, technology, regional development projects and so on. It's important that grant funding bids recognise the role of the Commission.

Think about beneficiaries and you are well down the track to producing good grant bids.