EU Funding Opportunities for Startups and SMEs
Apply before: September 5, 2019
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMES) with a radically new idea underpinned by a business plan for rolling out marketable innovation solutions and with ambitions to scale up.
It supports high-risk, high-potential SMEs to develop and bring to market new products, services and business models that could drive economic growth.
For-profit SMEs, including young companies and start-ups, from any sector.
You must be established in an EU Member State or a Horizon 2020 associated country.
Also, have a look at the EU definition of SMEs.
The SME Instrument provides full-cycle business innovation support. It has three phases, including a coaching and mentoring service. There are no set topics – innovative companies across the board are welcome to submit their bright ideas. Companies are recommended to apply for Phase 1 first, but may also apply directly for Phase 2 depending on the maturity of their project.
Feasibility study – Phase 1
Phase 1 helps you get a grip on the R&D, technical feasibility and commercial potential of a ground-breaking, innovative idea and develop it into a credible business plan for scaling it up. Projects will receive a lump sum of €50 000 and should last around 6 months.
From concept to market – Phase 2
Phase 2 helps you develop your business concept further into a market-ready product, service or process aligned with your company’s growth strategy. Activities could, for example, include trials, prototyping, validation, demonstration and testing in real-world conditions, and market replication. If the activity concerns a primarily technological innovation, a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6 or above is envisaged. Projects will receive between € 0.5 and € 2.5 million but you can request a higher or lower amount, duly justified, when applying. Projects should normally take 12 to 24 months to complete but could be longer in exceptional and well-justified cases.
Business acceleration services and coaching – Phase 3
The EIC pilot offers free coaching, business acceleration services and mentoring to help your business scale up and grow. These are open to all small businesses that are EIC clients, simultaneously to their grant.
Coaching covers business development, organizational development, cooperation, and financing.
For SME Instrument clients, up to 3 coaching-days are available in Phase 1, and up to 12 coaching-days in Phase 2. SMEs taking part in FTI or FET-Open are offered up to 12 coaching-days.
Business acceleration services are offered in the form of training, links to investors, partnering and networking with other SME clients and larger firms and services to help you access international markets, e.g. via participation in overseas trade fairs.
The free-of-charge coaching service is facilitated by the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).Competition is tough – only the most convincing and excellent proposals get funded after a thorough evaluation by multinational panels of technology, business, and finance experts. Selected companies receive funding and are offered business coaching to scale up their innovation idea, and can also receive mentoring. They are helped in networking with other EIC SME Instrument clients, with other companies of all sizes, and with potential co-investors and follow-up investors across Europe. Until 2020 around 4000 small companies will be selected for funding.As an SME Instrument client, you will gain visibility and boost your chances of success in European and international markets.
To apply you are invited to register and submit your proposal on the Horizon 2020 Participant Portal. Before applying we invite you to read the full details about submissions, eligibility and admissibility criteria and the evaluation procedure read the guidelines for applicants, the 2018-2020 Work Programme and to get in touch with your Enterprise Europe Network regional office. In addition, have a look at our tips for applicants. More information on the EIC Accelerator will be available soon.
The SME Instrument consists of two separate grant phases, both complemented by coaching and business acceleration services. Participants can apply to Phase 1 with a view to applying to Phase 2 at a later stage, or directly to Phase 2 if the idea has sufficient maturity and proven feasibility.
The SME Instrument is a continuously open call with 4 cut-offs per year for each Phase. Proposals are evaluated by expert-evaluators on the basis of three award criteria: ‘impact’, ‘excellence’, and ‘quality and efficiency of implementation’.
From June 2019 the SME Instrument Phase 2 will become the EIC Accelerator Pilot. It will provide grant-only support as well as support in the form of blended finance (combining grant and equity).
Here are the cut-off dates for 2019. These dates are indicative and may change.
13 February 2019
07 May 2019
05 September 2019 – final deadline
The over yearly budget from 2019 for the EIC Accelerator/SME Instrument is €689.26 million.
You will be informed of the outcome of the evaluation maximum 2 months after the corresponding cut-off date set out above for phase 1 and maximum 4 months after the corresponding cut-off date set out above for phase 2. The indicative timeline for the signing of grant agreements is a maximum of 3 months from the final date for submission in phase 1 and a maximum of 6 months from the final date for submission in phase 2. However, in reality, these times are shorter.
For more information have a look at how proposals are evaluated.
Documents and links:
For further information contact
Theme: Small and medium-sized enterprises
Applicant Country: EU Member State of a Horizon 2020 associated country
For more information: European Commision