European horizons for Ukrainian innovative companies

While many Ukrainian research institutes complain of lack of funding, the national scientific centre “Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology” launched a start-up and joined a €5 million research consortium through the EU-funded Horizon 2020 programme. 

“We knew about this programme quite awhile ago. Before Horizon 2020, we participated in the 6th and 7th iterations of its predecessor, the European framework programmes,” says Serhiy Pugach, head of the section on technology transfer at the Institute and responsible for marketing at the Streamozone start-up.

Streamozone produces ozone generators and systems based on these generators for the preparation and purification of water and air in the agricultural and food sectors and industrial enterprises dealing with water treatment.

Before applying for a Horizon grant, an organisation needs to find partners, including at least three EU-based organisations. “When we started searching for partners, we had our own ideas for what organisations to work with, but a coordinator of a similar project suggested we join the bigger consortium, as it is harder to win a grant with a small one,” explains Pugach.

The company joined a consortium worth €5 million: “integrated and innovative key actions for mycotoxin management in the food and feed chain,” and will participate for a four-year period. The consortium brings together more than 30 organisations from 15 countries worldwide, including from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

The consortium is involved in developing more than 15 different technologies aimed at reducing mycotoxin contamination of food at different stages. “Streamozone deals with the prevention of fungus and mycotoxin during grain storage,” says Pugach. The new company’s share of the grant is €80,000.

While participating in the consortium, Streamozone develops prototype equipment for industrial production. “We also provide recommendations for the technology’s use and monitor the results of the field tests,” notes Pugach.

The company’s clients are found principally in North America and Ukraine. After joining the consortium, Streamozone started expanding to European markets.

“Since the project allows for more efficient communication with research and industrial companies worldwide, we got better access to the demands of the European market. Ukrainian companies usually have less demands for technologies, compared to global markets,” explains Pugach. Consortium meetings help to generate questions and ideas and provide companies with more potential for funding and access to global markets.

Pugach advises Ukrainian companies not to be intimidated by the prospect of participating in Horizon 2020: “You should promote yourself and the solutions that your company can suggest. Capacity in English is a must, of course. You should also participate in Horizon information sessions and brokerage events. Horizon’s online databases can also be useful while searching for consortium partners.”

“There are currently low levels of applications for Horizon 2020 from Ukrainian organisations,” says Oleksandr Chumak, Team Europe expert and president of the Association of Private Employers. Chumak gives an example: “Spain, France and Italy submit about 170 applications to Horizon per year, while last year there were very few Ukrainian organisations that applied.”

To help institutes and businesses get more acquainted with Horizon, Team Europe experts put together a presentation on the programme for Kharkiv entrepreneurs and the scientific community. “Kharkiv is one of the scientific hubs of Ukraine. It has many research developments and patents,” says Chumak.  He believes that the city has a lot of potential to benefit from Horizon 2020.

Few steps to apply for Horizon 2020

To apply for Horizon 2020, you must be part of a consortium. Partners must be from at least 3 different EU member states or associated countries depending on the type of actions you intend to participate.  Here are some links to organisations that can help applicants find partners:

The average share of the grant is about €100,000 per company. To submit your proposal you must first register on the European Commission Participant Portal. Visit the European Commission participant portal to register and apply

Horizon 2020 National Contact Points in Ukraine give advice on applying for the programme, specifically: choosing the best funding scheme, administrative procedures and contractual issues, the application process, documents (forms, guidelines and manuals), finding a project partner, reviewing your proposal, liaising with the commission on the scope of projects.

You can find a list of Horizon 2020 funding opportunities on the European Commission Participant Portal.