How to get involved in FC Buses Coalition? Practical Guide step by step to get involved in this initiative under Horizon 2020

A Fuel Cells Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (after FCH JU) has been established in Europe: many commercialization initiatives are putting on the ground for large scale demonstration projects in order to reduce overall costs of FC Buses. The purpose of this article is to provide an understandable guide for private parts in order to apply in calls for proposal to submit projects and obtain funds for the implementation of this new bus technology. We are going to take an overview also to the procedure for the evaluation of projects in order to know how to produce a viable project[1].”


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1) The actors involved part 1: What is in brief the FCH JU? How it composed and which are their goals?

The FCH JU is a unique Public Private Partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. Its aim is to accelerate the market introduction of these technologies, realizing their potential as an instrument in achieving a carbon-lean energy system.The three members of the FCH JU are the European Commission, fuel cell and hydrogen industries represented by Hydrogen Europe and the research community represented by the Research Grouping N.ERGHY.
The right instrument to achieve such important goals is the Public Private Partnership (after PPP) because of the scale and scope of the research and market entry agendas for developing and deploying FCH technologies across the spectrum of applications goes beyond the capacity of single companies or public research institutions in terms of financial commitment, resources and capability. In signing a PPP many are the advantages to be taken:
• Overcoming barriers to deployment: research needs to develop the technologies and it is often so complex that no single company or public research institution can perform it alone;
• Pooling together resources: EU Framework Programmes have provided increasing levels of funding to fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, from 8 million euros in the second stage of development to 315 million euros in the last stage of implementation;
• Market focus:Without a consumer market, no technology can have a major impact;
• Tackling the market failure:As with many other emerging energy technologies, before fuel cells and hydrogen can become competitivea great amount of investment is needed, not only in R&D, but also in transport, storage and refueling infrastructures. No single company has the resources to make the transition alone, because mass-market volumes are too distant, as is return on investment.

2) The actors involved part 2: What is in brief the FC Buses coalition? How it is composed and which are their goals?

Next to FCH JU there is an FC Buses coalition which constitute the framework of the commercialization initiatives: currently 35 European locations are committed to assessing FC Bu rollout options, local governments and bus operators from 35 European cities and region from 12 different countries. This coalition is a platform for discussing overarching issues related to commercialization and supporting public transport representatives in evaluating FC Bus deployment.
Bus operators and public administrations have signed a Joint Letter of Understanding underlining their interest in future FC bus deployment. The signatories express the need for action in public transport to reduce local and greenhouse gas emissions and to establish sustainable public transport systems. Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Industry Stakeholders which support the commercialization initiative have signed a Joint Letter of Understanding expressing their conviction that by deploying a significant number of FC Buses until 2020, the technology will became fully mature and commercially viable.

3) Who can apply for an FCH JU funded projects? Which countries are eligible for funding?

Any natural or legal person can submit an application in order to get funded under FCH JU projects: any company without prejudice to the dimension, research organizations, universities, NGOs. The compulsory requirement is that they possess the operational and financial viability to carry out the research tasks that they purpose.
The legal entities mentioned above which are eligible to receive funding in FCH JU have to be established in the following countries:
• Member States of the European Union including their overseas departments;
• Associated Countries[2] listed in 2020 Horizon Associated Countries list which includes: Iceland; Norway; Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Montenegro; Serbia; Turkey; Israel; Moldova; Faroe Islands; Switzerland(partial association); Tunisia: the Horizon 2020 Association Agreement with Tunisia was signed on 1 December 2015, but it will only enter into force once Tunisia notifies the Commission that its internal procedures have been completed. Ukraine: since EU does not recognize the illegal annexation of Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, under the terms of the Horizon 2020 Association Agreement with Ukraine, legal persons established in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea or the city of Sevastopol are not eligible to participate. Georgia: an Association Agreement with Georgia is expected to be adopted and signed in the first semester of 2016. It will be provisionally applicable as of 1 January 2016 upon its signature. Georgian legal entities are encouraged to apply to all calls in all Horizon 2020 actions funded from the 2016 budget; Armenia: the signature of an Association Agreement with Armenia is expected in the first semester of 2016. It would only enter into force once Armenia notifies the Commission that its internal procedures have been completed; Liechtenstein:unlike in FP7, Liechtenstein does not intend to associate to Horizon 2020.
• International European Interest Organizations[3] which are international organisations, the majority of whose members are Member States or Associated countries, and whose principal objective is to promote scientific and technological cooperation in Europe such as the actions promoted under Funding Programme 7 (previous programmatic period before 2014) Marie Curie Actions.
Additional conditions might apply on a Call basis for strategic topics, where participation of Industry Grouping and/or Research Grouping members is required.

4) Which is the total budget for the nowadays programmatic period and which are the types of action that can be promoted? How to participate in Call for Proposal?

• Research & Innovative Actions:Activities aiming to establish new knowledge and/or to explore the feasibility of a new or improved technology, product, process, service or solution. In this context the FCH JU funding rate is in the oder of 100%;
• Innovative Actions: Activities directly aiming at producing plans and arrangements or designs for new, altered or improved products, processes or services. In this context the FCH JU funding rate is in the order of 70% except for Non-Profits, which are still funded 100%. In order to apply and subsequently partecipate in a Call for Proposalunder FCH JU projects there are different steps to be respected:
1. Find a call: it is possible to use the H2020 online manual available at this link or search using FCH as keywords on the Participant Portal and then choosing the relevant topic of interest;
2. Find partners: partner search can be facilitated by the service in the Participant Portal, it helps in finding organisations that would like to participate in the proposals. It is also possible to post collaboration offers there;
3. Create an account and register an organization: the organization that want to partecipate in a project needs to be registered by the EU Commission;
4. Submit a proposal: fist of all it has to be planned a project following the requirements for the technical annex and then a Budget has to set up: The FCH JU model grant agreement provides detailed explanations on the budgetary items, e.g. new budgetary rules in Horizon 2020 for indirect cost: unique flat rate of 25%.

5) Which is the process of evaluation of a submitted project?

Once the project has been submitted FCH JU check the eligibility of the project and then allocate the proposal to experts. Now it is the time to take a look on the role of the experts in the evaluation of the project, there are different phases: the first one concerns the individual evaluation, usually remote in which there is an individual evaluation of the project by the expert which is followed by a report on it. The second phase concerns the consensus which could be remote in which the experts express their opinion on the project in order to vote it, and the third phase of the evaluation process by the experts is the panel in which there is the evaluation of the previous reports, they prepare a panel ranked list which is evaluated during the final and last phase by FCH JU in which there is the finalization providing for the final ranking list of the projects.
FCH JU recruits experts from a central Commission database where person can register at any time: working as an expert there is the possibility to evaluate proposals to select the best ones for funding, monitor the progress of on-going projects and evaluate the FCH JU programme.
An expert is an independent individual and would not represent a company, an organization or a State.


[1] Freely taken from “Fuel Cell Electric Buses - Potential for Sustainable Public Transport in Europe, a study for the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking”, Sponsor of the Study: The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), Author of the study: Roland Berger, Coalition of the study: 83 stakeholders, Authors of the brochure: Heiko Ammermann, Yvonne Ruf, Simon Lange, Dragos Fundulea, André Martin, Date of publication: September 2015.
[2] To knew more see the link:
[3] To knew more see the link:

Alessandro Rossi - EuropaBook Analyst
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Transport and Accessibility