Horizon 2020 SME Innovation Associate for Researchers

Horizon 2020 SME Innovation Associate for Researchers

Are you:

  • A highly-skilled researcher looking for a new challenge?


  • Interested in carrying out research to turn business ideas into an innovation?
  • An expert eager to learn industrial innovation and business management skills?
  • Looking to boost your CV with business experience abroad?

This programme may be just right for you.

Under 'Horizon 2020', the European Union's Research and Innovation Programme, a new funding will support 90 SMEs or start-ups hire a researcher as the brain who will bring their brilliant idea to life. 

What is it about?

The 'Horizon 2020 SME Innovation Associate' (INNOSUP-02-2016) has been created to facilitate the matchmaking between talented researchers and European SMEs to support turning an innovative idea into a research or innovation project, for one year. 

The programme will assist researchers in:

  • Finding the SMEs who need grey material to turn their ideas into innovations;
  • Providing the selected researchers with a full tailored-made training and coaching package in order to guarantee a smooth integration in the company.

Who can participate?

Researchers from all over the world who met the following criteria:

  • PhD holder or equivalent (Recognised Researcher R2 level minimum);
  • Demonstrated expertise in line with the job advertisement;
  • Transnational mobility as defined in the mobility rule of the Marie Slodowska Curie Actions (MSCA):  "at the time of recruitment, researchers must have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country where the SME is established for no more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the reference date. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account".

How to participate?

The recruitment phase will start in March 2017 and positions in September 2017.

Recruitment: 01/03-30/04/2017 - Apply for a challenging job abroad!

Once the European Commission has selected the SMEs with the most innovative ideas and best recruitment plans, job vacancies will be published on EURAXESS the European Job Platform for Researchers, and other international or globally accessible web-based resources from 1st March 2017 to 30 April 2017.

Interviews will take place in May-June 2017 and your new job will start in September 2017 for an initial period of 12 months

The application is simple and paperless: 

  • Create your personal account at EURAXESS. The process will take no more than 10 minutes;
  • Submit your application online by 30/04/2017 at 17:00:00 (Brussels time).

Optional Phase I: 11/02-30/06/2016 - Testing ideas and job vacancies 

SMEs will be able to test the attractiveness of both their ideas and vacancy notice in advance (i.e. before submitting their proposal for this pilot action) by publishing their call for manifestation of interest on EURAXESS.

During this period you will be able to express your interest and give feedback on the call for manifestation of interest. In doing so you will:

  • Help pre-select the most interesting ideas;
  • Help SMEs to fine-tuning their job offer;
  • Highlight your CV and keep in contact with potential employers 

Optional Phase II: 01/07/2016-28/02/2017 - Parallel recruiting phase

During the testing phase (optional phase I), SMEs can decide whether they want to make the vacancy conditional on the award of an EU grant (see the conditional vacancies here)

By making the offer non-conditional on the EU financial support, SMEs can keep the opportunity of recruiting experts as soon as they are available/identifies without having to wait for 1st September 2017 (the official starting date of the positions supported by the European Union). 

Advantage: Without conditionality the job will be immediately available. 

Disadvantage: The recruiting of the candidate outside this EU funding schemes will prevent researchers from participating in the core training programme organised by the European Union. 

Questions? Need Help?

H2020 SME Innovation Associate infographic

The content of this page is for information purposes only. The relevant legal instruments and the text of the call shall take precedence over the information contained in this page. The European Commission or EASME does not accept responsibility for any use made of the information contained therein.


  • Mathilde Murphy's picture

    Is phase 2 described above funded in any way under H2020-INNOSUP-2016-2017? Would the SME be eligible for the Tailored training programme organised by the enterprise as a personal training and development plan for the Innovation Associate rather than the Core Training programme? and is the Tailored training programme funded?

  • Alessandro's picture

    Dear Mathilde,
    phase 2 is not funded by the EU and, on the contrary, gives the possibility to opt-out and recruit a profile without the support of this action. The tailored training will be organized by the enterprise and costs will be eligible under the grant. The core training will be funded and organized by the EU as a supporting action. For further clarifications please consult our new PowerPoint Presentation https://ec.europa.eu/easme/sites/easme-site/files/h2020_innovation_assoc...

    EASME team

  • Ilaria 's picture

    Hi, I am finishing my PhD and I would like to apply for the optional phase. How do I apply? Thanks!

  • Alessandro @EASME's picture

    Dear Ilaria,
    the deadline for SMEs to submit the offers is 30/06/2016. The vacancies for PhDs will be published on EURAXESS as from March 2017 and the positions will start in September 2017. However you can already support the SMEs in improving the vacancies by giving your feedback on the calls for manifestation of interest published on EURAXESS. Please check: http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/index.cfm/jobs/jobDetails/34078512

  • AK Dutta's picture

    Start ups are included in INNOSUP. How start up is differentiated from SME? How old it need to be to be considered as start up?

  • faturma's picture

    start-ups can apply. A start up might or not might be an SME. These are completely different categories.
    SME: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/business-friendly-environment/sme-defini...
    Start up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Startup_company

    Marie @EASME

  • ismini's picture

    SME innovation associate demands contribution from the employer?

  • Alessandro @EASME's picture

    Dear Ismini, this is a coordination and support action under Horizon 2020 and the funding rate from the European Union is 100%. Consequently no contributions are requested from the employers and - on the contrary - the indirect costs for the company are refunded as a lump sum equal to 25% of the direct costs. For more info please check our FAQs http://europa.eu/!tt89VB

  • Olga's picture

    What are the core training organized by EC included in the training program? where they will take a place? is there schedule?

  • Alessandro @EASME's picture

    Dear Olga,

    the information was published among our FAQs http://europa.eu/!tt89VB

  • Ravish Jain's picture


    We are looking to apply to the Innovation Associate programme. On the application, I had 2 questions.

    Q1 The application asks for a communication plan for recruitment. But in the call descriptions, it is already given that 'Once the European Commission has selected the SMEs with the most innovative ideas and best recruitment plans, job vacancies will be published on EURAXESS the European Job Platform for Researchers, and other international or globally accessible web-based resources from 1st March 2017 to 30 April 2017.'. So what other communication plan is required?

    Q2 The application asks for a recruitment plan. In the call details, the timeline for advertising the vacancy, interviews and final recruitment is already finalised. So what else is required in the recruitment plan?

  • Alessandro @EASME's picture

    Dear Mr Jain,
    the call is about overcoming the barriers to the recruitment of highlight qualified specialists currently not available or not affordable at the local level. A communication plan is therefore needed to raise awareness and ensure that the best talents are reached wherever they are located. EURAXESS was suggested by the European Commission as it is certainly a suitable too. However companies may also decide to use other tools or rely in pre-existing relations. In all cases under this section we ask to show that there is a credible strategy that will guarantee the recruitment of a talented researcher. The same principle applies for the recruitment plan also taking into account the possibility to opt for the fast lane option.
    We invite you to consult our blog post: https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/news/implementation-guide-great-proposal-s...

  • Luca's picture

    I will finish the PhD in Nov 2017.
    Do I have any opportunity to partecipate?


  • faturma's picture

    Dear Luca,
    sorry for the late response. You need to finish PHD in September 2017 at the latest.

    Marie @EASME

  • Daniela Lobo's picture

    The absolute final deadline to submit my PhD thesis is August 2017 (I am expecting to submit earlier though). Between submission of thesis, defending it (viva) and being awarded the actual title, it takes a few months. My question is, if I pass my viva (which means I will be granted a PhD) but still don't have the official paper saying so by September 2017 (but some sort of temporary paper from the University confirming I have in fact completed my PhD), would I be able to apply for this as a researcher?

  • Ali Arslan's picture

    Dear sir/mam, I would like to apply for PhD scholarship at Institute of Parasitology, Department of Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria.

  • Mayte's picture

    Dear Sir/Man
    Our entreprise has been granted an innovative associate (innosup program). We now have some doubts about the place of work of our candidate. Following the MSCA rules mobility is not so clear for me if the candidate (regardless of their nationality) has to be working in some european country member of H2020 (except where the enterprise is located) o can be working in whatever country. The associate eligibility criteria says:
    .- Comply with the transnational mobility criteria: the researcher must come from a different country than the place of employment (irrespective of his/her nationality). This mean at the time of recruitment (september 2017), researchers must have resided or carried out heir main activity (work, stuidies, etc) in the country where the company is established for no more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the reference date (from 01/09/2014 until 31/08/2017) Compulsory national service and/or short stays as holidays are not taken account.
    It is not clear for me if that different country defined in the mobility criteria has to be some european country or any other. Is this mean our candidate can live, for example, in USA??

    Thank you very much

  • storejo's picture

    Dear Mayte, Please contact your project officer directly or EASME-INNOVATION-ASSOCIATE@ec.europa.eu.
    Best regards, Johanna@EASME

  • gmjwresearch @gmjw consult's picture

    Why you did not include the H2020 MSCA-EID action in your EASME SME scheme or vice versa???

    However, what a mess with thousands of diversified programmes and sub-sub-sub-programmes every single action with different application periods and requirements etc pp ... its a hell to get through the opportunities and information on the point and in time and in particular as a micro entreprise.

    The EU is still not complying with major targets and own priniciples, as well as failing with SDGs and further priotised objectives.

    EU is an administration & control dinosaurus, which feeds its apparatus itelfs at first and burns public and civil society ressources.

    EU will collapse soon if no immediate changes opens up instantly.

    Please stop stealing lifetime through thousands of pointless sub-programmes or pay administration efforts and consulting fees for your own improvements.