Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Workplace innovation uptake by SMEs

Topic identifier: INNOSUP-04-2019
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: CSA Coordination and support action
Opening date:
16 October 2018
Deadline: 17 January 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Industrial Leadership
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Workplace innovations are non-technological innovations related to business structure and organisation, employee engagement and Human Resources management, managing internal process and decision making, development and planning of organisational strategies and methods, relationships with clients and suppliers, the work environment itself.

Workplace innovations improve motivation and working conditions for employees, both men and women, which leads to increased labour productivity, innovation capability, market resilience, and overall business competitiveness. Workplace innovation helps companies to anticipate and adapt faster and better to changing economic environment. This type of flexibility is even more important in the context of a new industrial revolution and quickly changing technologies and business models. Being able to react to changes rapidly requires continuous feedback from customers and users. Employees working at the customer interface have an important role in producing this information. Workplace innovation also improves learning capabilities and diffusion of knowledge, which are important for keeping workers' skills up-to-date. Finally, non-technological innovations are an integral part of the successful implementation of technological innovations.

Despite obvious benefits still not many companies, especially SMEs, implement this type of innovation. Implementing workplace innovation and facing challenges related to new industrial revolution requires right managerial skills. That is often not the case for SMEs, which do not have enough knowledge resources.

The experience of the 2013-2016 European Workplace Innovation Network pilot project shows the difficulties in promoting one specific model of workplace innovation. Successful implementation of this type of innovation depends on the national, economic and cultural context (related e.g. to the entrepreneurship and managerial culture).


The Action will be a piloting scheme for the uptake of workplace innovation by SMEs. It will aim at creating interregional networks gathering national or regional innovation support agencies[1], which will work together to create pilot schemes supporting the uptake of workplace innovation in SMEs. The composition of the networks should reflect similar needs of SMEs and a comparable entrepreneurship culture in the area covered by the network. This approach will enable the creation of new, context-based workplace innovation support schemes.

Those new pilot schemes will be tested in companies selected by the interregional networks, by using financial support to third parties (at least 75% of the grant will be used for this purpose). The total number of supported companies will be taken into account in the evaluation of the proposals (please refer to the grant conditions for this topic).

The Action, by looking at existing tools, exchange of best practice and creation of new pilot schemes will help to create new, context based, long term mechanisms supporting the uptake of workplace innovation by SMEs across Europe. It will also give concrete support to SMEs interested in looking for new sources of growth through the competitive edge provided by workplace innovation related opportunities. Thereby it will stimulate: (i) new forms of work organisation and working (including the gender dimension); (ii) stronger employee participation in innovation processes (creation of new products, services and their production); (iii) improvement of the managerial techniques; (iv) it will help draw lessons for innovation support agencies.

A budget of EUR 1,5 million should allow to address this challenge (budget for a single network not exceeding EUR 300,000).

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 0,3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:
  • New, context based mechanisms supporting uptake of workplace innovation by SMEs.
  • More SMEs take advantage of the opportunities offered by workplace innovation.
  • New, context-based forms of workplace innovation are created.
  • Improved framework conditions for the uptake of new technologies.
  • Better skilled workforce and more resilient companies.
Cross-cutting Priorities:


[1]i.e. the regional and national agencies that design and/or implement innovation support programmes for SMEs are important intermediaries for SME innovation

Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
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 Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme. 


Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.  
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

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

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Coordination and Support Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

For grants awarded under this topic beneficiaries may provide support to third parties as described in General Annex K of the work programme. The support to third parties can only be provided in the form of grants. The respective options of Article 15.1 and Article 15.3 of the Model Grant Agreement will be applied. At least 75% of the grant will be used for testing new pilot schemes in companies by using financial support to third parties.

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

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.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


8. Additional documents:

Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-20 - Introduction
Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-20 - Chaper 7. Innovation in SMEs

Horizon 2020 work Programme 2018 - 20 - Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

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To access the Electronic Sumission Service, please click on the submission-button next to the type of action that corresponds to your proposal. You will then be asked to confirm your choice of the type of action and topic, as these cannot be changed in the submission system. Upon confirmation, you will be linked to the correct entry point.

To access existing draft proposals for this topic, please login to the Participant Portal and select the My Proposals page of the My Area section.

Type of Action Coordination & support action [CSA]
Topic Workplace innovation uptake by SMEs - INNOSUP-04-2019
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