SME Instrument and FTI in 2018-2020 - check the draft Work Programme

SME Instrument and FTI in 2018-2020 - check the draft Work Programme

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The new Horizon 2020 draft work programme for Innovation in SMEs for 2018-2020 is available. Check out what this means for SME Instrument and Fast Track to Innovation.

Since its opening for business in 2014, the SME Instrument has become a key accelerator programme at European level. Indeed, the programme has demonstrated its ability to identify radically innovative businesses in Europe and to invest in their growth.

As a result, there are now more than 2800 highly innovative small and medium-sizes enterprises all around Europe that benefit from equity-free financial support, individualised business coaching and targeted business acceleration services.

As of January 2018, the SME Instrument and Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) will become the central part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot, targeting radically new, breakthrough products, services, processes or business models that open up new markets. This transition will bring the SME Instrument to the next level and expand the reach of its benefits to the European innovation ecosystem.

Indeed, the SME Instrument's redesign will improve both its accessibility and the excellence of its selection process. Changes include:

- Full bottom-up selection approach – the removal of pre-defined topics as foreseen in previous Work Programmes will allow entrepreneurs from all sectors of the economy to apply with their market-creating innovations.
Overhaul of the submission forms – the structure and content of these forms have been adapted in order to simplify the submission process for these entrepreneurs and adopt a business-oriented language that is more adapted to their reality.
Pool of expert-evaluators – the number of expert-evaluators in the pool with an investor profile has been significantly increased in order to better consider market and investment related elements in the evaluation.
- Face-to-face interviews with selected Phase 2 applicants – the introduction of this additional step after the remote evaluation will give expert-evaluators a better grasp of the proposals and make sure that only the best and most disruptive innovation ideas pass the cut.  

Fast Track to Innovation will exit the pilot phase and also become part of the European Innovation Counicl pilot. The features of FTI will stay the same as in its pilot phase. 

In order to get a better understanding of the new features and opportunities offered by the SME Instrument and FTI under the European Innovation Council pilot, we invite you to consult the following documents:

These draft documents will be updated when the Work Programme for 2018-2020 will be published on 27 October 2017. Until that point, they need to be considered as preliminary and subject to technical modifications.


Important notice:

This draft has not been legally adopted or endorsed by the European Commission. Any views expressed are the views of the Commission services and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the Commission.

This draft is made public before the adoption of the work programme 2018-2020 to provide potential participants with the currently expected main lines of this work programme. Only the adopted work programme will have legal value.

The adoption of the work programme will be announced on the Horizon 2020 website and on the Participant Portal.

Information and topic descriptions indicated in this draft may not appear in the final work programme; and likewise, new elements may be introduced at a later stage. Any information disclosed by any other party shall not be construed as having been endorsed by or affiliated to the Commission.

The Commission expressly disclaims liability for any future changes of the content of this document.



  • Tomasz's picture

    Hi, what are the plans concerning the Health projects - will they still be funded to 100 % and up to EUR 5 million?

  • Enrico's picture

    I have a question on the face-to-face interview: how the score received in the first step of the evaluation process will/would possibly influence the A or B mark from the final panel review? Do Higher score have more chances to be funded anyway?
    Thank you

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