10 Golden Rules for Success in MARCO POLO II


Submitting a successful proposal to Marco Polo

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10 Golden Rules for Success in MARCO POLO II

Credibility & Viability - 7 Problem cases

Structure of the proposal, General remarks & Available support

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10 Golden Rules for Success in MARCO POLO II


Understand the criteria and conditions!

 carefully read the call text

 understand all eligibility, selection & award criteria

 if resubmitting, consider comments from consensus report of failed proposal


Form a sound partnership!

 explain role of all partners and give proof of their commitment

 demonstrate the technical & financial capability of the partners

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10 Golden Rules for Success in MARCO POLO II


Aim for a high modal shift and environmental benefit!

 the more tkm (or m³km) the better

 the more environmental efficiency (benefit per subsidy, Rs) the better


Key: Demonstrate that your project is credible!

 credible market research

 letters of intent/commitment from potential customers

 sound business plan: viability of service after subsidy period


10 Golden Rules for Success in MARCO POLO II


Show the real innovation !

 new markets or technologies

 broad consortia and widespread co-operation, clear organisational structures (for common learning actions)


 concrete dissemination plan (what, when, where, how, not only announcements)

Pay attention to possible distortions of competition!

 honest description of existing services

 clear delimitation against existing non-road services:


10 Golden Rules for Success in MARCO POLO II


Justify your finances!

 justify all costs (for eligibility refer to model contract)

 exclude costs related to non-EU countries not fully participating

 no accumulated profit can be made over the whole contract duration


Use the available support!

 support tools and Helpdesk by European Commission (see below)

 use the checklist provided for each action type


10 Golden Rules for Success in MARCO POLO II


Write a clear and concise proposal!

 clear, comprehensive and logical description on 10-15 pages max.

 further details and confidential elements in the annexes

 detailed description of old and new routes (with clear maps)

 detailed calculations (make use of MP calculator)


Take care of the formal requirements!

1original, 5 paper copies and CD-ROM, 4 forms to be filled out

 signature and stamp by lead partner on original

30/11-1/12/06 respect the deadline


Credibility & Viability

Very important evaluation criteria


Low credibility:

the main reason for failing the evaluations!

In Marco Polo II: 50 % of total points distributed to credibility & viability

for all action types!

Important to focus on credibility & viability

– a proposal is selected on the basis of its quality

– independently of the transport mode or the type of action

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Problem cases, examples that reduce the credibility


The modal shift is not credible!

The modal shift in the proposal is high

– lot of tkm shifted off the road

Receives high points on award criteria

– quantity of freight shifted off the road & environmental benefits

 –


A) Market study does not prove the high amount of potential freight to be shifted for the type of goods in the relevant market

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Problem cases, examples that reduce the credibility

B) Not enough details about the return cargo

C) The volume of freight on the return leg is minimal

D) Irrealistic loading factor of 100% both ways

not credible!

E) Overoptimistic - almost full capacity already at the beginning of the of the service

F) No


letters of intent/commitment from potential customers

G) Not likely that the cargo was previously transported on the road

– no modal shift!

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Problem cases, examples that reduce the credibility


Doubts that the service will start up!

Proposal mentions that the service will start up within the required timeframe in the Call

– eligibility criteria met


A) Infrastructure works ongoing/required

no mentioning of when this will be terminated/no details given!

B) Negotiations to obtain slots, authorisations -

no mentioning when this will end/ no details given!

C) No proof of the availability of the transport medium

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Problem cases, examples that reduce the credibility


Not enough details about the service!

Proposal mentions that the service will run from A to B


A) Transport operator not involved in the project

– not as partner neither as subcontracor

B) No timetables, frequency

C) Nothing about the development of the service in the project period

D) The transport leg is not defined, no maps etc.

F) Combined service

– SSS & rail proposed, only the rail part is


Problem cases, examples that reduce the credibility

G) No description of the transport medium, type, age etc.

H) Final distribution not mentioned

I) No desription of the market segment

– type of freight transported

J) The passenger part of the service

– not described – cannot be financed in MP (non eligible costs)

Attention: the evaluators are experts in the different modes of transport - SSS/rail/inland waterway/road!

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Problem cases, examples that reduces the credibility

4. If upgrade

– the existing service is not described!

For modal shift actions

– possibility to submit a project where there is a


extension of the existing service

Problem: if existing service is not described

– no possibility of evaluating if this is a significant upgrade

Attention: what is the upgrade? Has the modal shift and the costs of the existing service been deducted?

Attention: there can be no financing of the existing service and the modal shift of the existing service is not eligible!

What is a significant upgrade?

Increased frequency, upgrade of the transport medium (larger freight capacity)….


Problem cases, examples that reduces the credibility

5. No description of the market!

A) No market study or weak market study

Problem: does not address the potential for freight, no short summary, no source indicated

B) Problems in this particular market not addressed


how to solve them: low water level, permits, delays/problems at border crossings, restrictions on transporting heavy weight goods, dangerous goods etc.

Attention: the evaluators are experts

– they know the


Problem cases, examples that reduces the credibility

6. Weak partner structure or weak/no commitment from partners!

The proposal meets the eligibility criteria and has 1 partner from

France and 1 partner from Spain


A) No joint letter of intent form signed by all partners explaining their role and commitment to the project

are they commited?


No track record or CV‘s of the partners involved –

do they have the technical capacity to run this project?



No financial statements

do they have the financial capacity to run the project ?(

Bankruptcy etc.)


Problem cases, examples that reduces the credibility

7. Weak business plan!

Problem A): the business plan does not separate between eligible and non eligible costs according to




in the model grant agreement (on MP website)

Problem B): does not mention the revenue

no profit allowed during the accumulated years of funding!

Problem C): only gives lump sums, too generic and not detailed enough, irrealistic figures

Problem D): no plan for the year after MP funding

is the service viable and will it continue?

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Proposal Structure

Part I

Project Overview Form (1-2 pages)

Declaration by the Applicant



– all partners!

Acknowledgement of Receipt Form

Joint letter of intent between all the partners

Part II

Main Text of the Proposal (around 10 pages in font size 12)

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Proposal Structure

Part III

Different Annexes according to type of action to support claims in the main text:

 maps, business plan, financial statements,

CV’s, market research, letters of intent from customers etc.

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General remarks


highly advised presentation following the structure of the Call

Pay attention to specific documents and requirements

(forms, financial statement, joint letter of intent…)

Good luck with your proposal!

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Available Support



Call text, model contract, templates

Checklist, Frequently Asked Questions

MARCO POLO calculator

Presentations of Nantes and Budapest conference etc.


Email: [email protected]

Phone: +32 (02) 29-96448

Fax: +32 (02) 29-63765


 support available in some countries (check MP website)