Who can apply?

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.

What topics are covered?

There are no set topics. Negative impacts on climate and the environment should be avoided.

How does it work?

The SME Instrument provides full-cycle business innovation support. It has three phases, including a coaching and mentoring service.

Specific Challenge:

The SME Instrument supports high-risk, high-potential small and medium-sized enterprises to develop and bring to market new products, services and business models that could drive economic growth.

The SME Instrument is for innovators with ground-breaking concepts that could shape new markets or disrupt existing ones in Europe and worldwide.

Competition for SME Instrument support is tough.

The SME Instrument is very selective.

Only the most convincing and excellent proposals can be 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 SME Instrument clients, with other companies of all sizes, and with potential co-investors and follow-up investors across Europe. As an SME Instrument client, you will gain visibility and boost your chances of success in European and international markets.

Multi Phases tool

The SME instrument consists of three phases. Participants can apply to phase 1 or directly to phase 2.

Phase 1

Consists of a feasibility study (one work package) in order to verify the technological/practical as well as economic viability of an innovation idea/concept with considerable novelty to the industry sector in which it is presented. The activities are–among others-risk assessment, market study, user involvement, Intellectual property (IP) management.
The proposal contains an initial business plan based on the proposed idea/concept and outlines the specifications of a more elaborated business plan.

Phase 2

Innovation projects, demonstrating high potential in terms of company competitiveness and growth underpinned by a strategic business plan.
Activities are focused on demonstration, testing, prototyping, piloting, scaling-up, miniaturisation, design, market replication and the like aiming to bring an innovation idea (product,process, service etc.) to industrial readiness and maturity for market introduction, but may also include some research.
For technological innovation, Technology Readiness Levels of 6 or above are envisaged.
Focus on: IP protection and ownership; convincing measures to ensure the possibility of commercial exploitation; specification for the outcome of the project and criteria for success; explanation of how the results of the supported project are to be commercialised and of what kind of impact on the company is expected.

Phase 3

No funding but support to increase the economic impact of the funding provided by the SME Instrument phase 1&2.
This support can take the form of training, links to investors, partnering/networking with other European Innovation Council (EIC) SME clients and larger firms as well as services to help you access international markets, e.g. via participation in overseas trade fairs.

Key dates in the call for project

  • 07 November 2017 - Opening date