About SME Instrument
The SME Instrument is part of Horizon 2020 - EU's framework programme for innovation and research. The SME Instrument offers excellent opportunities for SMEs to conduct R&D projects - alone or with partners. The 2018 budget is €480M.
Possibilities under the SME Instrument
The SME Instrument is a full bottom-up programme. Your project is not required to fall under any specific themes. Emphasis is placed on the fact that the result of the project (an innovative new product/service) significantly boosts the growth of your business.
Funding is offered in two separate project phases: 1) proof-of-concept and feasibility studies, and 2) development and demonstration activities.
SME Instrument - Phase 1 & 2 funding
The programme 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, concept feasibility 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.
The SME Instrument application process
In both phases, the company submit a written application. Phase 1 applicants will only be judged based on the written material. In addition to this evaluation, the best Phase 2 applicants are invited to pitch the idea in Brussels. Each phase of the SME Instrument has 4 annual deadlines. You can see the deadlines below. The individual calls are found at the bottom of the page.
- Phase 1: September 5
Requirements for participation in the SME Instrument
The applicant must be an SME under the EU definition:
- Fewer than 250 employees
- An annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50M, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43M
How to calculate your SME data depends on the ownership structure of your company. Read more about the EU SME definition here.
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