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1. Introduction

The European project F2F (Farm to Fork) Health Matters is an internationalisation accelerator for innovative agri-food SMEs, driven by an alliance of five European clusters: Wagralim (Belgium), Clusaga (Spain), BioEconomy Cluster (Slovakia), InovCluster (Portugal) and Valorial (France).

It is funded by the European Program for the Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) within the framework of the European Strategic Cluster Partnerships - Going International (ESCP-4i).

The objective of F2F Health Matters is to promote the development of collaborative internationalisation services with a clear geographic focus to offer practical support for a group of SMEs from participating regions specialized in the healthy food, bio-based techno-functional ingredients and solutions and sustainable bio-solutions to develop an international roadmap.

In the section section 2. "Internationalisation supports for SMEs” is detailed the strategy that has been defined based on providing a complete package of services to promote international collaboration and commercial development to the group of participating SMEs.

When a call is open, any information about it, its basis and the form to submit will appear in the section “Calls”.

2. Internationalisation supports for SMEs

SMEs can apply to benefit from three types of dedicated internationalisation support from F2F Health Matters project: Commercial Lead Support, Travel Aid, and Elite Programme. The commercial lead and the travel aid constitute financial aids. The Elite Programme consists of tailor-made training and coaching and the access to a dedicated SMEs Community.

All applicants are encouraged to choose the Elite Programme. For the financial aids, SMEs are able to choose both and classify their preference in the online form, but can only get one type of financial aids, and applicants are invited to read carefully the eligibility criteria. (See section 3. Application and selection process).

For detailed modalities related to cost reimbursement and supporting documents please refer to ‘Supporting Documents’ published on the left side of this webpage

1. Commercial Lead Support

This support consists of the financing of personalised consultancy services of commercial prospection on the target countries. The project partners have negotiated preferential rates with external service providers for a service pack adapted to the SME and the chosen target country. The list of external service providers is available here.

2. Travel Aid

This support consists of a contribution of 2.000€ to Champion SMEs for travel and subsistence costs resulting of the participation in the collective internationalisation missions to the targeted countries. For more information on this, please consult the Article 2 to 6 in the “Supporting Documents" on the left side of the website.

3. Elite Programme

This support consists of customised training programme on technical - and innovation, and market-oriented topics to help SMEs going international in the F2F Health Matters target countries.

It includes access to an online community including a trans-national on-line/off-line working group that will be established following each open call to skill up on the topics prioritised by SMEs when submitting their applications. Five sessions per selected target country are expected to be organised.

The Elite Programme also includes an initial meeting to define the objectives of SMEs participation; a mid-term meeting to verify progress and discuss relevant corrective actions; a final meeting at the end of the programme to know SMEs’ satisfaction and discuss possible follow up actions.

3. Application and selection process

Overview of application and selection process

The beneficiaries of the Commercial Lead Support and of the Travel Aid constitute the smaller group of Champion SMEs. The SMEs beneficiaries of the Training and Coaching Programme constitute the enlarged group of Elite SMEs.

SMEs can apply to all supports listed in above section (2) and select their preference in the online application form. However, after the evaluation process, Champion SMEs will be granted only once with either Travel aid or Commercial lead support. The Training and Coaching Programme will gather a small group of Elite SMEs that can be Champion SMEs or not.

SMEs applying to the Financial Aids are encouraged to also apply to the Training and Coaching Programme. The application, selection (and payment in the case of Travel Aids) will be conducted according to the steps described below:

Eligibility Criteria and Verification

SMEs located in COSME countries, which are members of Valorial [FR],or in a process of becoming members and that are interested in strengthening their international capacity in the target countries of F2F Health Matters and the following areas can apply for support:

  • Innovative & Sustainable Healthy Food
  • Bio-based Techno-functional Ingredients & Solutions and
  • Bio-solutions – to become more global across overseas markets of connected food, the market of functional food and healthy ingredient, the market of processed food products.

Before entering to evaluate the quality and relevance of the applicant SMEs an eleigibility check will be conducted to verify compliance with the following cumulative criteria:

  • The application is submitted via the online form available at the F2F Health Matters website
  • The application is submitted within the established deadline. The form will be activated at 10 A.M. the day of call opening and deactivated at 5 P.M. the day the call closes
  • All mandatory fields in the application form are complete
  • The application is submitted in English
  • The applicant is a SME. The applicant has SME status according to the definition of the European Union
  • The SME is or will become a member of one of the project’s clusters. SMEs from any COSME eligible territories may apply to the F2F Health Matters financial aids, provided they are members or decide to become member of one of the clusters constituting this partnership
  • The SME is committed to internationalisation. The SME has (or is developing) an internationalisation strategy to make use of growth opportunities at the international level for products and/or services alongside at least one of the F2F Health Matters specific sectoral segments: bio-solutions; bio-based techno-functional ingredients and solutions; and healthy food products, and in the target country(ies) of F2F Health Matters Project.

Applicant SMEs may be asked to provide documentation and/or clarifications to correctly assess the criteria listed above. Three working days will be given to SMEs to comply with the request; should they fail to provide it they will be excluded and will not continue to the evaluation process. All applicants will be notified about the eligibility verification. Eligible applicants will be notified they have been shortlisted and will proceed to the evaluation step.

Assessment of SMEs Export Readiness

The export readiness of shortlisted applicants will be assessed using the F2F Health Matters SME Export Readiness Assessment Tool, that can be found on the left of this section (Get Involved).

Selection of SMEs

The selection of Champion SMEs (Traval aids + Commercial Lead support) is based on several criteria:

1. The applicant complies the Eligibility criteria and Verification check listed above, such as:

  • The applicant’s profile should fit into the three target groups: 1) bio-solutions 2) bio-based techno-functional ingredients & solutions 3) healthy food products
  • Being or becoming Member of one partner (Wagralim, Valorial, Clusaga, Bioeconomy Cluster, and InovCluster)
  • Being an SME according to the EU definition

Please refer to the above ‘Eligibility Criteria and Verification’ section for more information.

2. Evaluation (see table below)

  • Being assessed by the F2F Health matters team through an online meeting. The threshold is 16 points with a maximum of 55 points. (See the ‘SME Export Readiness Assessment’ form on the left of the webpage)
  • The eligible SME profile is interesting for the target market. The F2F Health Matters Team consults the external expert who will give their remark
  • The selection of Commercial Lead Support beneficiary is based on the total score of the applicant
  • The eligible SME for travel aid profile should fit into a critical mass of eligible applicants. (In order to facilitate the organisation of B&Bs, having several similar profiles is important)

Ranking per Cluster:

  Export readiness Assessment Value     External Expert Value (Consultant)     Cluster Expertise   Total
  Score Weight (55%)   Score Weight (35%)   Score Weight (10%) 100%
Not ready 0-15 Discarded Non-interest 0 Discarded SME has debts 0 Discarded Discarded
Yes, but with some weakness 16 – 31   Common product/service 1   Has potential 5    
Yes, good enough 31 – 55   Interesting product/service 2   High potential 10    

Criteria in the bold line in the table are eliminatory criterion. Meaning with one non-satisfied indicator, the SME will be discarded automatically.

During the application phase, SMEs have to give their preference on the two types of Financial Aids: Travel Aid and Commercial Leads Support. The team will try to answer their request. However, in case of a conflict, the Cluster will find a consensus with the selected SMEs. If no agreement can be found, the Cluster can decide to not continue the project with the SME. If 2 companies have identical score and similar product, first come first served.

3. The availability of the remaining budget.

The table below shows the available budget for UAE in the case of Clusaga (ES), Bioeconomy Cluster (SK) and InovCluster (PT). For Wagralim (BE) and Valorial (FR), it shows the available budget for Japan and UAE.

  Wagralim Valorial Clusaga Bioeconomy Cluster InovCluster
Travel Aids 2 * 2000€ 2 * 2000€ 3 * 2000€ 2 * 2000€ 2 * 2000€
Commercial Leads Support 1 * 3000€ 1 * 3000€ 1 * 3000€ 1 * 3000€ 1 * 3000€

The selection of Elite SMEs (Training and Coaching Programme):

Eligible applicants in accordance with the ‘Eligibility Criteria and Verification’ rules can take part in the Training and coaching programme, and constitutes the Elite SMEs group. The project team will ensure the harmonised SME profile to facilitate the organisation of Training.

It should be noted that the above selected Champion SME may also be part of the enlarged group of Elite SMEs. When selecting the Elite SMEs that will have access to the customised training and coaching, priority will be given to Champion SMEs.

4. Calls

Three open calls are launched according to the following calendar.

After Canada and Japan, F2F Health Matters project has selected United Arab Emirates as its third target country. Apply now for its internationalisation supports to UAE! The internationalisation mission to Arab market will probably take place from 13th to 20th February 2024. Stay tuned and follow us on social media for the next steps.

Call nº Call opens Call closes Eligibility verification Notification of shortlisted SMEs Applications evaluation Notification on selection
1. Canada* 18/03/2022 17/05/2022 (CLOSED) 31/05/2022 03/06/2022
2. Japan** 28/09/2022 14/12/2022*** (CLOSED) 30/12/2022 4/01/2023
3. UAE 05/04/2023 05/07/2023*** 18/07/2023 26/07/2023
3. UAE* only for SMEs from Brittany (FR), Normandy (FR) and Pays de la Loire (FR) 02/10/2023 02/11/2023**** 10/11/2023 17/11//2023

*Applications for Canada call are closed and mission is took place from 20th to 25th of November. The Taining Sessions related to that mission are exclusive for the Elite SMEs group.

**Applications for Japan call are closed and mission took place from 19th to 23th of June. The Taining Sessions related to that mission are exclusive for the Elite SMEs group.

***Due to the number of participants, Wagralim (BE) and Valorial (FR) reopened the recruitment process for Call 2 (Japan), only for SMEs from Wallonia (BE), Brittany (FR), Normandy (FR) and Pays de la Loire (FR). The reopen call was available to apply only for SMEs from these regions, from 9th to 22nd February. The notification on shortlisted SMEs took place on 28th February, and the notification on selected SMEs took place on 03rd March

***Due to the number of participants, the recruitment process for Call 3 (UAE) was extended 1 month.

****Due to the number of participants Valorial (FR) has reopened the recruitment process for Call 3 (UAE), only for SMEs from Brittany (FR), Normandy (FR) and Pays de la Loire (FR). The reopen call will be available to apply only for SMEs from these regions, from 2nd October to 11th November. The notification on shortlisted SMEs will take place on 10th November, and the notification on selected SMEs will take place on 17th November.

5. Training sessions

UAE mission – Training series Calendar

Coming soon...

Japan mission – Training series Calendar

Market entry strategies in Japan Tue 4th Apr 9:30 am (UTC+2); 8:30 am (UTC+1)
Nutrition content claims and health claims in Japan Wed 19th Apr 9:30 am (UTC+2); 8:30 am (UTC+1)
Labelling/marking and packaging requirements Wed 3rd May 9:30 am (UTC+2); 8:30 am (UTC+1)
Import clearance at Japan Customs Wed 17th May 9:30 am (UTC+2); 8:30 am (UTC+1)
Business etiquete in Japan Wed 31th May 9:30 am (UTC+2); 8:30 am (UTC+1)

Applications for Japan call are closed and mission took place from 19th to 22th of June. The Taining Sessions related to that mission were exclusive for the Elite SMEs group.

Canada mission – Training series Calendar

Marketing technique Tue 30th Aug 4:pm (UTC+2); 3:pm (UTC+1)
Regulation Tue 13th Sep 4:pm (UTC+2); 3:pm (UTC+1)
Labelling Tue 27th Sep 4:pm (UTC+2); 3:pm (UTC+1)
Trade barriers highlights Tue 11th Oct 4:pm (UTC+2); 3:pm (UTC+1)
Sugar/Additives Limitations Thu 27th Oct 4:pm (UTC+2); 3:pm (UTC+1)

Applications for Canada call are closed and mission took place from 20th to 25th of November. The Taining Sessions related to that mission were exclusive for the Elite SMEs group.