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HORIZON 2020: Do you want to join and share EUR 80 billion?

HORIZON 2020: Do you want to join and share EUR 80 billion?

Horizon 2020 is the largest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). The goal of the program is to ensure that Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors in creating innovation. Horizon 2020 offers generous grants in most areas of science and technology aimed for civilian use.

Horizon 2020: Three main categories

1. Excellent sciences (approx. EUR 24,5 billion). This category is intended to strengthen the EU's global position in research and innovation.

2. Industrial leadership (approx. EUR 17 billion). The objective is to make Europe more attractive for investment in research and innovation, create jobs and growth, and attract more private and strategic investments to research and innovation. Funding is directed primarily to so-called Key Enabling Technologies including information and communication technologies (ICT), nanotechnologies, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing and processing, biotechnology and space technologies.

3. Societal challenges (approx. EUR 30 billion). This part focuses on the major societal challenges that Europe and the rest of the world faces. In order to meet the challenges, interdisciplinary collaboration projects will be supported. The key challenge areas identified include: health, demographic change and wellbeing; food security, sustainable agriculture, forestry; secure, clean and efficient energy; smart, green and integrated transport; climate action; inclusive, innovative, reflective societies; secure societies.

SME Instrument: The sweet spot for SME companies

A highly interesting option offered within Horizon 2020 is the possibility for individual small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to apply without project partners. This part of Horizon 2020 is called the SME Instrument. The grant can cover from 70% to 100% of the project costs and can amount to as much as €2,5-5 million per project. On this page we will give you a brief introduction to the SME Instrument. Further down we also describe the priorities of the rest of the Horizon 2020 programme.

SME Instrument news 2016-17

Larger budget and new focus areas

During 2016-2017 EU will invest nearly €740 million in European SME companies through the SME Instrument. The call Clinical research for the validation of biomarkers and/or diagnostic medical devices has been split into two distinct areas: 1) Supporting innovative SMEs in the healthcare biotechnology sector (maximum grant amount €5 million) , and 2) Accelerating market introduction of ICT solutions for Health, Well-Being and Ageing Well. Even though generous grants are being offered within a broad range of technology areas (see Topics below), for the moment projects within health, wellness and aging as part of EU’s effort to meet an important challenge in Europe: the aging population are being highlighted. 

SME Instrument Phase 1-3: Grant amounts

The SME Instrument offers support in three different stages. There are four application cut-off dates per year and the evaluation takes around eight weeks.

Phase 1 Feasibility Assessment (Idea to concept, 6 months, €50.000)

The goal is to explore and assess the technical feasibility and commercial potential of a breakthrough innovation that the SME wants to exploit and commercialize. This will be reflected on a business plan (around 10 pages). The business plan should illustrate the state-of-the-art of the idea, the innovation and market potential of the project, as well as its feasibility in terms of time, resources, and competence.

Phase 2 Innovation Project (Concept to market maturity, 1-2 years, €0.5–2,5 million)

Phase 2 is the sweet spot of the SME Instrument. Here the company will further develop its proposal through innovation activities (e.g. demonstration, miniaturization, validation), and will draft a more developed business plan (around 30 pages). Here it´s important to show that you have a proven business model by explaining in detail the unique selling point of your concept, providing information on commercial competence (competitors and limitations of the project and how you will overcome them), and providing a detailed and realistic explanation of how will you organize your team, budget and time.

On behalf of European clients GAEU has written a series of granted Phase 2 applications. Go to References for more information.

Phase 3 Commercialization (Prepare for market launch)

SME´s will receive extensive support, training, networking, mentorship and access to risk finance. The aim is to facilitate the commercial exploitation of the innovation activities resulting from Phase 1 or Phase 2. The EU will not provide additional direct funding in this phase.

Topics in the SME Instrument 2016-17

The SME instrument is divided into 13 calls that focus on promoting the various types of innovative solutions. These calls are open during 2016-2017:

  1. Open Disruptive Innovation Scheme – The goal is to provide support to a large set of high risk innovative start-ups and SMEs in the ICT sector.
  2. Accelerating the uptake of nanotechnologies advanced materials or advanced manufacturing and processing technologies by SMEs – Aimed to help industry to implement research results and to create added value by combining existing research results with other necessary elements, transfer results across sectors, accelerate innovation, and eventually create profit or other benefits.
  3. Dedicated support to biotechnology SMEs closing the gap from lab to market – The goal is to facilitate the transition of SMEs between early technological development and market introduction. SMEs working in the field of biotechnology are particularly invited to apply.
  4. Engaging SMEs in space research and development – The goal is to engage SMEs in space research and development, especially those not traditionally involved in it.
  5. Supporting innovative SMEs in the healthcare biotechnology sector – This call promotes high and risky investments in the healthcare and biotechnology sector.
  6. Accelerating market introduction of ICT solutions for Health, Well-Being and Ageing Well – The goal is to contribute to promising research in ICT for health, welfare and aging, resulting in new and effective products and services.
  7. Stimulating the innovation potential of SMEs for sustainable and competitive agriculture, forestry, agri-food and bio-based sectors –  The aim is to promote resource- and cost-effective solutions that ensure the production of safe, high quality and healthy food.
  8. Supporting SMEs efforts for the development - deployment and market replication of innovative solutions for blue growth – This call supports risky and innovative ideas in the maritime and aquaculture/fisheries sectors with a particular focus on close-to-market solutions and potential for high growth and internationalization.
  9. Stimulating the innovation potential of SMEs for a low carbon and efficient energy system – This call supports the development of resource-efficient, cost-effective and affordable technology solutions to decarbonize and improve the efficiency of energy in a sustainable way.
  10. Small business innovation research for Transport and Smart Cities Mobility – The goal is to develop new services, products, processes, technologies and systems that will result in a sustainable and smarter transportation, improved availability, accessibility and logistics.
  11. Boosting the potential of small businesses in the areas of climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials – This topic is targeted at all types of eco-innovative SMEs in all areas addressing the climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials challenge.
  12. New business models for inclusive, innovative and reflective societies – The goal is to enable SMEs to innovate and grow across traditional boundaries, through new business models and organizational change.
  13. Engaging SMEs in security research and development – This call aims to support innovative projects that can help to preserve the freedom and security of European