Are you ready for the European innovation champions' league?

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So you have heard about the Horizon 2020 and SME Instrument. You have read the description of the programme, requirements for the SMEs and a whole lot of other important documentation. And yet, you are still not sure if you should apply. We would like to help you with that.

EASME SME Support icon

As you may have already read, one of the main objectives of Horizon 2020 is to financially help great and innovative ideas move from labs to the market. SME Instrument is no different. Our main goal is to create a European Innovation Champions League – an elite group of companies moving Europe forward in the global market of research, growth and innovation. We assume you are here, because you want to be a part of that elite group.

Size and age matters!

SMEs being the driving force of European economy, we need small and medium-sized companies that are ready to take their ideas to the European and global markets to take the lead in bringing Europe to the frontlines of global innovation. And that's where you come in. We would like your company to at least have a prototype of your product / idea ready for pilot testing, or developed even further. So after considering how well established is your business, and how ready your product is for the market, you can choose to participate in different phases of the SME Instrument.

Based on the previous proposals received, we have learned that the success rate in Phase 1 projects tends to be higher in those SMEs that have been established for 4 years or more - in fact, 70% of funded projects proposals came from companies that have been in the market for at least that amount of time. The same tendency goes for the size of the SMEs as well. We have found that companies that have a staff of 6 or more employees account to two thirds of all projects that were funded up to know. We expect even more evolved companies and projects to be selected for funding in Phase 2. Thus it is important for your success to know where you are going, to have a team that will help you get there, and know where you will fit in the market.

Now when it comes to the proposal, we do not only want to know about the project – we need to know why you, and not your competitor, are going to succeed.  We need to know who you are competing with, what are the main threats and opportunities that you are facing in the market, and how do you plan to monetize those opportunities. Don’t get us wrong – we care very much about your big and innovative idea, however for every thought there has to be a team ready to go and realize it.

Will your idea change the world?

We would also like to talk about innovation. While there are many possible interpretations on what innovation stands for, all of them would agree that it has to create something new and better for a society of tomorrow. We do not call for an improvement on an existing product, or an alternative to one. We want to help you develop something that does not yet exist in the market, something new, and something that can change the way we perceive things. So we believe that the first question you should ask yourself is "Will I be able to pull my business with this idea, will it deliver something beyond people's imaginations, something they will be willing to buy/use, and will it be the game changer in the market that you will be entering?" If you are confident that the answer is YES, it's time to visit participant's portal and become an elite member of European innovation champions' league!


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  • Anonymous | Sat, 29/11/2014 - 11:35
    It is sound a good idea, I am

    It is sound a good idea, I am going to try it...I am already ready for...Thanks

  • Jean-Baptiste S... | Mon, 08/12/2014 - 12:26
    Size and age

    Thanks for this very useful and interesting feedback. H2020 SME is a very well thought and well designed instrument.

    I hope that the size and age will only remain an ex-post observation made on winners, and will never be made an implicit criterion (explicit is hopefully unlikely). Wise startups will rather subcontract some of the development and prototype manufacturing. This is vitally important for flexibility and keeping costs variable. These companies will typically have very little staff before reaching the market.

    If size (and age) becomes an implicit ex-ante criteria we will go against the very aim of H2020 wich is to help bringing to the market disruptive innovations: a fair part of them are likely to emerge from wise startups !... :-)

    Size, age, and subcontracting should not be criterions. They should be assessed in the context of the project and be part of the suitability analysis. Being flexible, lean and focussed is by no means a weakness!

  • Pierre | Wed, 24/12/2014 - 18:14
    I agree

    Re: "Size, age, and subcontracting should not be criterions."

SIEGFRIED | Thu, 29/01/2015 - 18:38
Size and age

. . . size and age is a restiction when applying for an innovation which does not exist?
Does it mean that innovations from older people in pension age (like me) who have gained their experience worldwide over several decades, gets no chance for funding, even when offering it as a key person by a consortium to be etsablished?
If this is a criteria, than good night H2020

  • martizr | Fri, 30/01/2015 - 10:18
    Age refers to the age of the

    Age refers to the age of the company. Also this article is an analysis of the SMEs who have been selected for funding, it's not about the selection criteria.

  • Anonymous | Wed, 04/03/2015 - 10:52
    Do you know a public list

    Do you know a public list where all the winner applications are listed? How did you get your resource for the analyses? Thanks in advance!

  • martizr | Wed, 04/03/2015 - 11:38
    You can find a map and lists

    You can find a map and lists of beneficiaries here:

    Erwan @EASME

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