Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Improving access by innovative SMEs to alternative forms of finance

Topic identifier: ALTFI-01-2017
Publication date: 25 April 2017

Types of action: CSA Coordination and support action
Opening date:
25 April 2017
Deadline: 07 September 2017 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Sources of finance for innovative SMEs should be as diverse as possible in order to cater for their varying needs at different stages of the firm life-cycle and the innovation process. However, more needs to be done to improve such SMEs' access to alternative forms of finance[1] such as peer-to-peer lending, venture debt and convertible loans, equity finance provided by crowdfunding or business angels, and factoring and trade finance. In particular, there is a need to:

  1. Sensitise and improve capacity of financial suppliers such as National Promotional Institutions [2], Banks and enablers, such as National Central Banks, national innovation agencies providing finance about the potential of alternative finance.

  2. Facilitate the exchange of best practices amongst Member States and Associated Countries about regulatory and other measures aiming to make it easier for innovative SMEs to diversify their sources of finance.

  3. Make it easier for niche and specialist providers of alternative finance to market themselves to innovative SMEs seeking such forms of finance.

  4. Develop ways of matching such SMEs to alternative finance schemes and their providers.In particular, developing information architectures across the European Union taking into consideration the potential of technology innovation in finance.

  5. Improve the availability of financial and credit information about innovative SMEs to alternative lenders and investors.

  6. Improve innovative SMEs' awareness and understanding [3] of the types of alternative finance available according to their circumstances and development phase.


Proposals should take account of a) the diverse levels of development of the provision of information on access by innovative SMEs to alternative sources of finance across the Member States and Associated Countries; b) target countries where the potential for improvement is highest; c) harness the potential of innovative financial technology; d) take account of best practices with a view to their eventual replication. They should:

  1. Develop a capacity-building strategy and consequent implementation plan that makes use of techniques (tailored for both women and men) such as awareness raising campaigns, coaching, mentoring, workshops, courses, training materials (in particular through social media) as well as knowledge transfer of best practices.

  2. Validate the implementation plan by stakeholders including innovative SMEs, alternative finance providers and public authorities.

  3. Execute the implementation plan.

  4. Review the impact of the implementation plan and possibly adapt the scheme in the light of experience.

The approach taken must complement and build on existing initiatives in this area at EU, national and regional levels, working with them where possible. The proposals must also address how to ensure the continuity of the action beyond the implementation period of the call. Proposers must have and must demonstrate deep knowledge of the issues around access to risk finance by innovative SMEs, have proven experience in this field, and significant experience of capacity-building.

The selected proposal should contribute to the Pilot European Innovation Council [4].

The project duration should be a maximum period of 24 months.

The Commission expects to fund between 1 and 3 proposals.

Expected Impact:
  1. Increased use of alternative forms of finance by innovative SMEs.

  2. Emergence and growth of alternative finance options available to innovative SMEs in Member States and Associated Countries where such options are less available or developed at present.

  3. More cooperation between different suppliers of finance in order to crowd in existing EU, national and regional financing structures targeting innovative SMEs.

  4. Replication in Member States and Associated Countries of successful approaches to encouraging the take-up of alternative finance by innovative SMEs.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Open Innovation

[1]Action Plan on Building a Capital Markets Union - COM(2015) 468 final, Brussels, 30.9.2015.


[3]Leveraging on and improving the capacity of information intermediaries such as NCPs and EEN nodes


Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
    Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.

  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme:

    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.

  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.

    3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

    Information on the outcome of single-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

  5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    Coordination and Support Action:

    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Proposal templates are available after entering the submission tool below.
    Standard evaluation form
    H2020 General MGA -Multi-Beneficiary
    Annotated Grant Agreement

  6. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

  7. Additional documents:

    H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: Access to risk finance
    H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: General Annexes
    Legal basis: Horizon 2020 - Regulation of Establishment
    Legal basis: Euratom Horizon 2020 - Regulation of Establishment
    Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
    Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme



Additional documents

  • FAQs for the ALTFI Call for Proposal en

Submission Service

No submission system is open for this topic.

Get support

H2020 Online Manual your online guide on the procedures from proposal submission to managing your grant.

Participant Portal FAQ – Submission of proposals.

National Contact Points (NCP) - 
contact your NCP for further assistance.

Research Enquiry Service
– ask questions about any aspect of European research in general and the EU Research Framework Programmes in particular.

Enterprise Europe Network
– contact your EEN national contact for advice to businesses with special focus on SMEs. The support includes guidance on the EU research funding.

IT Helpdesk
- contact the Participant Portal IT helpdesk for questions such as forgotten passwords, access rights and roles, technical aspects of submission of proposals, etc.

– for compliance with ethical issues, see the Participant Portal and Science and Society Portal

European IPR Helpdesk
assists you on intellectual property issues