Horizon 2020's SME Instrument
Are you a highly innovative, ambitious and passionate small- or medium-sized business with global ambitions? Are you looking for excellent business resources and mentorship - and substantial funding wouldn’t hurt either?
As part of the Horizon 2020 programme, the European Commission is hand-picking potentially disruptive businesses to invest and support as part of the SME Instrument. Your business could receive up to €2.5 million in funding, and world-class business coaching.
Who should apply?
We are looking for high growth, highly innovative SMEs [Check the EU definition of SME] with global ambitions that want to disrupt the established value networks and existing markets. You should be driven, actively investing in innovation, and looking to grow.
It's a good sign if your company is based in an innovation hub, has received grants or venture capital funding, received innovation-related tax benefits, or won an innovation prize in the last 2 years.
The instrument will take place in three phases, with the aim of transforming disruptive ideas into concrete, innovative solutions with a European and global impact.
SMEs are recommended to apply for Phase 1, but may also apply for subsequent phases depending on the progress of their proposals:
Phase 1. Concept & Feasibility Assessment
Idea to concept (6 months)
The European Union will provide €50 000 in funding, and carry out a feasibility study to verify the viability of the proposed disruptive innovation or concept.
The SME will draft an initial business proposal (around 10 pages).
Phase 2. Demonstration, Market Replication, R&D
Concept to Market-Maturity (1-2 years)
Assisted by the EU, the SME will further develop its proposal through innovation activities, such as demonstration, testing, piloting, scaling up, and miniaturisation. It will also draft a more developed business plan (around 30 pages).
Proposals will be based on a business plan developed on phase 1 or otherwise. The EU aims to contribute between €0.5 million and €2.5 million.
Phase 3. Commercialisation
Prepare for Market Launch
SMEs will receive extensive support, training, mentorship and facilitating access to risk finance as the project is further polished into a marketable product.
Additional support and networking opportunities will be provided by Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).
The EU will not provide additional direct funding in this phase.
Call overview 2016-2017
Changes to 2017 calls:
- Budget increase for four topics
- Healthcare and biotechnology (SMEInst-05 topic): for cell technologies Phase 1 will be closed off in 2017, the topic will continue for all Phase 1 projects from 2016 and for Phase 2 projects from 2016 and 2017. In addition the projects in this topic can now last up to 36 months instead of the regular 12-14 months duration for other topics.
- Blue growth (SMEInst-08 topic): more focus is put on marine litter prevention in the text of the call
- Security (SMEInst-13 topic): from January 2017, actions to improve cyber security are encouraged to take into account the objectives of the Cybersecurity contractual Public-Private Partnership and the corresponding Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda.
Deadlines for all themes
Documents & links
- SME Instrument FAQs
- FAQS for experts
- List of SME Instrument evaluators
- Scoring of proposals under the SME Instrument
- Contact the Horizon 2020 helpdesk
- Contact Enterprise Europe Network in your region
- National contact points