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Grants as a Financial Instrument

Produced in collaboration with NWP member Evers + Manders Grant Consultants, this NWP White Paper summarises and elaborates on some of the key issues surrounding grants and applying for grants. Besides current challenges, the Paper presents a framework on how best to apply for grants and gives examples of Dutch and European grant schemes in the navigation section showing various opportunities in the water sector.



When small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) wish to develop, upscale, expand, and grow their projects, products, ideas, and innovations, they often need financial investment. Not all SMEs will have the means to invest the full amount privately. Grant schemes can be a useful tool to bridge this gap. For example, grants may be used to fill the gap between science, research and development, and the introduction or expansion of commercial products. In this way, research can be translated into commercial products or concepts and enter the market. New markets can be created, and existing markets may attract innovative research. Grants can also help pilot and demonstrate companies’ new products, developments, or concepts.

Besides enhancing financial capacity, other reasons to apply for a grant may be to join a larger consortium and be included in a network of companies that has the potential for future collaboration. Certain grant programmes may give you the opportunity to actively enhance the visibility of your project for the larger public via targeted communication and dissemination activities. Choosing to join a consortium can also be strategic, for example, if you wish to obtain certain knowledge or expertise that is important for the future of your company. Whilst there can indeed be many reasons to consider a grant application, the grant must fit your goals, rather than you making your goals fit the grant. In this White Paper, we will further emphasise the importance of aligning potential grant applications with your company’s long-term strategy and ambition.

The decision on which grants to apply for depends on many variables, including the scope and size of your project, its social impact, innovation, and the amount of money needed. There are several important questions to consider when choosing a particular grant programme. Do you wish to enter the global market or operate in the Netherlands, or even only in a particular region? Who benefits from you receiving the grant and achieving your ambitions? What Technological Readiness Level (TRL) does your development have? Are you conducting fundamental research, do you want to demonstrate your innovation in a relevant environment, or are you looking for an investment to launch an existing product on the market? Is your development new for your company, your country, or the world? 

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