Horizon 2020 Dedicated SME Instrument - Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy

Provides 0.5 - 2.5M € in subsidies for development and demonstration within:

About Horizon 2020 Dedicated SME Instrument - Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy

The Horizon 2020 Dedicated SME Instrument directly supports European small and medium-sized enterprises with a strong desire to develop, grow, and internationalize their most innovative ideas. The instrument is relevant for high-tech and research driven companies as well as service companies, and SMEs applying in a consortium or alone. With a successful application to the program, companies will receive:

  • Phase 1: A lump sum of EUR 50,000 towards proof-of-concept and feasibility studies
  • Phase 2: EUR 0.5-2.5M towards innovation development and demonstration activities
  • Support of up to 70% of total project cost

Possibilities with Horizon 2020 SME

Horizon 2020 SME offers funding opportunities for SMEs within a variety of industries, and support is given to the development of innovative ideas to market ready products, processes or services. The program has an overall budget of EUR 3BN which will be distributed to innovative projects in two separate phases.

Phase 1 funding is aimed at exploring and assessing the technical feasibility and commercial potential of breakthrough innovation.

  • Activities include risk assessment, market study, user involvement, Intellectual Property (IP) management, innovation strategy development, partner search, feasibility of concept etc.

Phase 2 funding is aimed at innovation projects supported by a sound and strategic business plan (potentially made possible by phase 1 funding) aimed at commercialisation.

  • Activities include prototyping, miniaturisation, scaling-up, design, performance verification, testing, demonstration, development of pilot lines, market replication, etc.

Requirements for Horizon 2020 SME

There are three primary requirements for a project to be eligible for support from Horizon 2020 SME:

  • Projects need at least one participating SME to apply (An SME has fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50M, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43M). SMEs may apply alone.
  • No parallel submission or implementation (phase 1 and phase 2) is possible.
  • Phase 2 proposals must be based on an elaborate business plan, with particular attention given to IP protection and ownership as well as commercial exploitation.

Upcoming deadlines

Below are the upcoming deadlines for Horizon 2020 Dedicated SME Instrument. Expect 1-2 months for the proposal writing process.


SMEs working in the field of industrial biotechnology and ideas/concepts involving the use of systems and/or synthetic biology are particularly invited to apply for funding.


SMEs can play a crucial role in developing resource-efficient and cost-effective solutions to secure sufficient supplies of safe, healthy and high quality food and other bio-based products, by developing productive, sustainable and resource-efficient primary production systems, fostering related ecosystem services and the recovery of biological diversity, alongside competitive and low-carbon supply, processing and marketing chains.

Particular attention will be given to:

- Advancing innovations in Integrated Pest Management
- Resource-efficient eco-innovative food production and processing
- Reduction of food losses and waste on farm and along the value-chain
- Creating added value from waste and by-products generated on farm and along the value-chain


The SME instrument offers financial support to SMEs with an EU dimension to put forward their most innovative ideas in the maritime and aquaculture/fisheries sectors with a particular focus on close-to-market solutions and potential for high growth and internationalisation.


Significant progress has been achieved in relation to research regarding the safety of engineered nanomaterials and the transfer of this knowledge into regulation. Still, more needs to be done as nanotechnology reaches the market. To fill this gap, transdisciplinary risk governance is required based on a clear understanding of risk, its management practices and the societal risk perception by all stakeholders.

Proposals submitted under this topic should include actions designed to facilitate cooperation with other projects; to enhance user involvement; and to ensure the accessibility and reusability of data produced in the course of the project.

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