What is the EU LIFE programme and how can it help your organisation?  

The EU has adopted the European Green Deal which is a set of ambitious policy initiatives aiming to reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 % by 2030, support the transition towards net zero emissions by 2050 and a resource efficient circular economy. The European Green Deal offers funding opportunities for projects to accelerate the transition to a greener future. In this article, we focus on one of them – the LIFE programme. What is it, and what do you need to consider should you wish to apply?


1. What is the LIFE programme? What does it intend to do? 

The LIFE programme is the European Union funding programme that supports green innovations and cleantech solutions related to the environment, nature conservation, climate action, and energy objectives. The programme aims to contribute to the shift towards a clean, circular, energy efficient, climate neutral, and climate resilient economy by supporting innovative projects and commercialisation of new solutions in line with nature, environmental, and climate related policies in Europe. The EU has allocated 5.4 billion euros for the LIFE programme for the period of 2021–2027, thus contributing to the objectives and targets of the European Green Deal. Organizations can apply for the funds through the LIFE programme’s two ‘pillars’: environment and climate action. Both two pillars are divided further into two subprogrammes that promote different environmental and climate-related actions (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Four subprogrammes of the LIFE programme

The programme provides funding, for instance, for projects piloting or demonstrating new eco-innovative technologies, methods, and approaches that contribute to the EU’s environmental and climate goals. An example may be a chemical company demonstrating an efficient production process to produce bio-based paints. In addition, LIFE supports projects promoting best practices and behavioural changes or helping the implementation and enforcing of plans and strategies in accordance with the EU legislation, such as the 2030 energy and climate framework.

2. Who can apply for it?  

The LIFE programme is open to companies of all sizes, as well as public authorities and non-governmental organisations that are registered in the EU. In addition, countries that are associated with the LIFE programme are welcome to apply. Organisations may apply on their own or in a consortium. Thus, the application can be submitted by a single applicant, small partnership collaborations, or several consortium partners. The EU encourages cross-national projects, though not a requirement.

3. What type of funding can you apply for? 

The LIFE programme funds projects that are typically between € 1 and 10 million. At maximum, the LIFE funding can cover between 60 to 95 % of the eligible project costs depending on the type of the project. The LIFE grant covers costs for personnel, subcontracting, and purchases of goods and services.  

Figure 2. An overview of the funding provided by the LIFE programme

4. What are the deadlines for submission and when can I start with my LIFE project? 

New LIFE Calls for proposals will be published in spring 2023. The deadline is in the autumn of 2023. The evaluation procedure takes approximately 5 months, after which applicants will be informed whether the project will receive funding. If the application is approved, the project can start around the summer of 2024. 

5. What do I need to prepare to apply for the LIFE programme funding?

In order to prepare for a successful application, Deloitte has developed the following phased approach: 

 Figure 3. The Deloitte LIFE grant application approach in stages 

The application process starts with identifying a project that aligns with the objectives of the LIFE’s subprogrammes (Phase 1). Subsequently, in Phase 2, a project outline is defined which should meet the criteria of the LIFE programme while making sure that the project is technically and financially achievable. In this phase, consortium partners can be identified, if relevant, and contacted to consider their involvement. The next step consists of drafting and writing the LIFE grant application itself (Phase 3). The application should describe amongst others the objectives (aligned with LIFE programme) of the project, the novel aspects and environmental and socio-economic impacts, the activities of the project including project management, a communication and dissemination plan for relevant stakeholders and a realistic timeline and budget. Following a successful application, the project coordinator is required to monitor and report the progress of the project and be compliant with EU funding rules and legislation (Phase 4). 


How Deloitte can help

Grants and tax incentives can provide different advantages, not only limited to financial benefits, but can also increase the visibility of your organization and lead to new collaborations. This can result in faster development and a higher degree of innovation needed to stay ahead of the competition. 

However, due to the many different type of grants that are available, it can be difficult to identify for the most relevant grants. Furthermore, there are other challenges due to the complex process to successfully apply a grant, including meeting all criteria of the call, writing a strong and appealing proposal, and involving the right consortium partners.

Deloitte’s Global Investment & Innovation Incentives (Gi3) team has a good overview of the grants and incentives landscape and thus can identify the most relevant grants and incentives that will accelerate the development of your innovation. The Gi3 team can also support all phases of the grant’s procurement cycle by identifying the planned activities and the strongest consortium partners, scoping the project, guiding the application process, drafting the application, and reviewing the documentation prior to submission. 

Deloitte Finland has expertise in sustainability and ESG-matters including decarbonization, circular economy as well as goal setting and reporting. We offer a broad variety of services ranging from sustainable finance to purpose-driven ESG strategy implementation. We can support you in transformations for instance to decarbonize your business and explore available funding and grant opportunities with you. 

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