How could you strengthen the quality of your European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) bids?

Post by Marie Pandolfo –EDC’s new Project Development Manager

The development of a robust full application is an important element of any project, essential for the approval of funding and as an evolving tool to measure, control and evaluate delivery.
Before you start reading the full article, one key element you must know is that a bid is the very last step of a project development process. A successful bid never comes from a project which is still being thought through and discussed. This is especially true for European funds, as the key appraisal points do not permit any approximate answers.
Here are some key recommendations for developing and submitting a successful ERDF application form:

To understand the context of the current European policies for going in the right direction towards a successful bid.
The recent economic crisis had no precedent in our generation: the EU GDP felt by 4% in 2009, 23 million people were unemployed. The European Union is implementing a strategy to come out stronger from the crisis: Europe 2020, in order to face the challenge of recovery.
The Cohesion Policy is the key investment framework to deliver Europe 2020 objectives. It is currently being reformed for 2014-2020. It makes available €351.8 billion in Europe’s regions, cities and the real economy (€10 billion for the UK).
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is one of the five main funds of the Cohesion policy. It is intended to help to redress the main regional imbalances in the Union, by supporting two major goals:
– the Jobs & Growth goal [ESIF]: investments on research and innovation, information and communication technologies, small and medium-sized enterprises and promoting a low-carbon economy.
– The European Territorial Cooperation goal [INTERREG A, B or C]: cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation.
Both goals have their own regulation, which are currently being developed and their Operational Programmes should be released in coming months.

To know the 10 key appraisal points of an ERDF application form.
1. VISION: a clear statement of the project aspirations backed by clear targets and outputs.
2. EVIDENCE AND ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION: the current situation, the trends and the possible futures. The drivers and the causes of the project. An existing market failure.
3. EFFICIENT PROJECT MANAGEMENT: a sound management for the delivery of the results and any activities.
4. EFFECTIVENESS: a significant impact on the target group(s). Innovative products or services that will directly benefit the citizens. Value for money.
5. RELEVANCE: a specific problem is tackled and measurable outputs are demonstrated. Analyse the needs and the demand for the project and show evidence that beneficiaries will use the service/product.
6. STAKEHOLDERS: appreciation of their views and concerns, their involvement and effective collaboration.
7. SUSTAINABILITY: a clear exit strategy, with a lasting effect.
8. CONTRIBUTION TO CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES: gender balance, equity, environmental and social concerns in the project design and delivery.
9. PUBLICITY REQUIREMENTS: compliance with the European publicity requirements. Presenting a communication strategy to disseminate the results of the project is an asset.
10. CLEAR ADDITIONALITY: The need of the ERDF support and the leverage of external funds from other national or local public funders and private match funders.

To submit a bid which emphasizes the following characteristics:
The managing authorities of the ESIF and INTERREG Operational Programmes are expecting successful projects to:
– Meet the essential criteria of the relevant Operational Programme and its priority objectives.
– Include an interdisciplinary team that involves external, public and private groups. Putting a bid together with external partner organisations is proved to be an asset.
– Show an effective governance structure including any contractual requirements between the lead partner and any delivery partners.
– Have a clear, unmet and proven need and target a specific group(s).
– Have a realistic timescale and objectives and is achievable within the given timeframe.
– Be costed correctly with all expenditure planned within the project timescale.
– Show a clear ERDF additionality: Why should the project be funded by the ERDF? What is preventing the private sector from solving this problem / exploiting this opportunity?
– Demonstrate value for money in terms of outputs and results returned on the investment.
– Include a clear strategy for monitoring any outcomes/impacts/outputs, as well as an exit strategy.

If you want to know more about the ERDF or if you have a project idea, please contact the Enterprise and Commercial Department (ECD) for support on your project development as well as your bid submission.

Priority Areas and Future Trends in the Digital Economy

The Technology Strategy Board has identified ‘Digital’ as a core focus area for their current and future programmes. They define ‘Digital’ as the complex interaction of people, processes and technology that creates digital technologies – along with their socio-economic benefits.

The internet economy in the UK is growing at 10% a year and will account for 10% of GDP by 2016. We spend more per head on and over the internet than any other nation, and UK businesses are leaders in digital technology and its uses. Our computing and telecoms, software and data, broadcast and publishing industries together contribute over £100bn to our economy – yet the impact on service industries is only just beginning to be felt. 

In this fast-moving marketplace, smaller, agile companies are particularly prominent and form an ecosystem anchored by global businesses that set standards and supply chains. 


We already enjoy many of the benefits the digital sector can deliver, but challenges remain which prevent effective exploitation and the formation of new high-growth markets and business models. Of particular relevance for us are challenges that if left unresolved could block a whole market to a new digital product or service. Such challenges may be around monetization, quality, resilience, trust, interoperability, security or inclusion. 

Often such challenges are hard to resolve due to misaligned incentives, conflicting interests, conservatism amongst incumbents, lack of – or out-dated – regulations, lack of standards, incomplete or disjointed value chains and industry fragmentation.


The TSB aim to help businesses work together in new ways to create value from digital information, content and services; rapid and continuous innovation is needed to stay ahead of the changes sweeping across the digital economy.

They aim to mitigate the risks in moving ideas towards commercialisation. The confidence needed for progress can be built through networking and knowledge sharing, and working on projects moving from small-scale feasibility studies to more ambitious collaborative work.

The internet, with increasing mobile access, is fundamentally changing the way business is done. Entire new value systems will require companies to look far beyond their existing supplier and customer relationships and work with new partners to deliver the experiences that users require. Sustained co-working will be needed to create industry-wide conversations, across sectors and between service creators, suppliers and users.