This will be BlockStart’s 3rd and final Open Call, and you will be the next generation of European blockchain startups! We would love to help you out and see you among our top 20 selected startups to join the Ideation Kick-off. We have learned a lot from previous Open Calls and have tried to adjust our application and selection process as much as we could to the needs of our startups, but now it is your turn to do not miss this chance and show us how your application stands out from the rest! There is no magic formula, but we hope that with the following tips you can deliver a stronger application and mesmerise our evaluators! Good luck!
Before starting your application
- Read all the information provided at BlockStart’s website regarding the Open Call #3 for DLT Developers, i.e., the Startup Developers page that includes the Open Call documentation and the FAQ. This will help you further understand our acceleration programme and if we are the right fit for what your company needs in terms of technical and business support.
- Watch our video on Open Call #3, that provides a brief overview of the programme stages, the perks for startups and the type of companies and sectors we are targeting and take a look at our list of alumni from previous Open Calls to better understand the type of startups we have supported and their journey in our accelerator. This will give you a clearer idea of the blockchain solutions developed and the technical and business achievements made by each one of them in the scope of our accelerator.
- Then, for sure, the next step is to carefully read our “BlockStart Bible”, i.e., the Guidelines for Applicants, that we have prepared to help your proposal comply with all the eligibility criteria required by us and the European Commission, and also for you to better understand how your proposal can stand out from others taking into consideration the criterion that will be evaluated by our external experts. Dedicate your time to the Guidelines, and namely to the eligibility criteria (e.g., limitations regarding countries, previous participation in BlockStart Calls, problems with the correct submission of Annexes, not complying with the European Commission’s SME definition, among others) and only then are you ready to start your application at F6S.
- We have already held a Q&A Webinar on 14 April, and you can watch the video recording here, and will be organizing a second one on 12 May at 11am CET. Should you have any additional question, this will be the perfect time. You can register here.
Your online application at F6S
- Once in the F6S application form for DLT Developers, please make sure you read the headline, that again refers all the mandatory Annexes that you need to download, fill in and upload in the application. Do not forget that these are Annex 3.1 – Proposal Supplement, Annex 4 – Declaration of Honour and Annex 5 – SME Definition (or, if you are an individual or team with no registered company, in alternative, Annex 5.1 – Commitment to Establish an SME). Before submitting your application, always make sure that you have uploaded the correct Annexes.
- We advise you to read each question carefully and prepare your answers, especially when they are longer, in a separate sheet, before submitting the final version. Please note that we do not ask for very long answers, so be clear and concise and provide only the most relevant information that you believe will make your application stand out from the rest: why is your blockchain solution unique, what problem is it trying to solve, clearly identify the demand (some statistics always help!), etc. In order to prepare for your answers, we have provided you Annex 3, which you will find in the Documentation Kit at BlockStart’s website, that is a template of the application form in which you can practice your answers.
- Be smart! Do not leave your application to the last moment! The deadline for applying to our Open Call #3 for DLT Developers is 26 May at 5pm CET and there is a tendency to leave it to the last moment. We understand, startups have a lot on their minds and administrative stuff is the least of their concerns, but if you apply beforehand, we will always be able to support you should you suffer any technical problem when applying through the F6S platform.
Administrative stuff… a nightmare for any startup!
- Read through each question carefully and answer only to what is specified there. Sometimes we provide instructions in each question, so make sure you also read those, as they are there to help you with further elements to complement your answer.
- Download and fill in Annex 3.1 – Proposal Supplement. This is where you will be asked to describe the activities that will take place in your project from the technical point of view. Break down your work in work packages and tasks and provide the timing for the different activities and components (e.g., Gantt chart or similar), taking into consideration the timings of the BlockStart programme, i.e., 4 months for the Prototype stage and 2 months for the Pilot stage. In this Annex you should answer the question “how are we going to implement the project to reach the defined objectives?”. Also make sure that you answer Yes or No in the Ethical and Security part of the Annex (table) and, should you have any ethical issues, that you provide a text justification.
- Download, fill in and sign Annex 4 – Declaration of Honour. Please note that if you do not sign this document – either in written of electronic format – you will not be eligible, even if the other fields are correctly filled in. Digital signatures are acceptable, but make sure they are placed in the right signature space, otherwise they might not be recognised during the eligibility check. Stamps are not mandatory.
- And now to the Annex that drives startups crazy! Our Annex 5 – SME Definition. Why do we request this? Because according to the rules of the European Commission our startups must be qualified as SMEs to receive the BlockStart grant and this is the Annex in which startups determine that, indeed, they can be classified as an SME. You will find this definition in our Guidelines for Applicants and there is a Guide for the SME Definition provided by the European Commission that is very helpful, so we recommend you to check it out. Basically, you are an SME if (i) you employ fewer than 250 people and (ii) have either an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million. And the calculation is based on your type of enterprise, i.e., if you are an autonomous enterprise with your own accounts or if you are a linked or partner enterprise, in which the accounts of others should also be part of the SME definition. If you are an autonomous enterprise, good news! Fill in all the data on page 2 and sign. No need to worry about the rest of the Annexes. If you are or have linked or partner enterprises, the case gets a little bit more complex, but do not worry, it is workable. In these cases, you need to fill in not only page 2 but also the corresponding Annex – Annex A (page 6) if you are/have a partner enterprise or Annex B (page 8) if you are/have a linked enterprise.
- In Annex A for partner enterprises, make sure you include all partners enterprises in the table provided and that for each enterprise you fill in a partnership sheet (page 7). Add as many partnership sheets as you need. Also make sure that the data you include on the total row in the table on page 7 is included in the table on page 5 second row and on page 2. Note that it is this data that will determine if you are eligible or not as an SME.
- In Annex B for linked enterprises, you can choose between two options: Case 1 if you have consolidated accounts with the other linked enterprises or Case 2 if you and your linked enterprises do not establish consolidated accounts. Depending on the Case, you will need to fill in either Box B (1) or Box B (2). On Box B (1), just add the consolidated accounts on the first table and include general information on each linked enterprise on the second table. On Box B (2), since some or all linked enterprises draw their own accounts, we ask you to fill in the first table with information on the linked enterprises and then fill in a linkage sheet per linked enterprise. Add as many linkage sheets as you need. Also make sure that the data you include on the total row in the table on page 9 is included in the table on page 5 (first or last row, depending on the Case you have selected) and on page 2. Note that it is this data that will determine if you are eligible or not as an SME.
- In all mandatory Annexes, please do not leave questions unanswered and always make sure, before submitting the application, that you have uploaded the final version of your documents in PDF format. Other kinds of information (company presentation, …) or files in a different format (Excel, …) will not be eligible. Always use the template provided and do not reuse previous templates from other BlockStart Open Calls, as the Annexes have suffered slight adjustments.
If you have any administrative questions or technical issues when completing the application form or the Annexes, do not worry – we are here to support you.
Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org