SME Instrument and FTI become part of the European Innovation Council

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As of November 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.

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.

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 exits the pilot phase and also becomes part of the European Innovation Council 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:



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  • Tomasz | Thu, 12/10/2017 - 09:53
    Health topics

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

  • storejo | Mon, 23/10/2017 - 12:37
    Dear Tomasz, there are no

    Dear Tomasz, there are no more exceptions for health projects. All projects including health will be co-financed at 70% and you will be able to ask for an amount of funding above €2.5 million if duly justified. Best regards, Johanna@EASME

Enrico | Fri, 20/10/2017 - 16:29
Evaluation process

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

  • storejo | Mon, 23/10/2017 - 14:22
    Dear Enrico,

    Dear Enrico,
    The jury will not take the score as such into account when evaluating the proposal in the second step but they will use your proposal as a basis for the interview especially the information in the "award criteria". The better the proposal/innovation the better the chances to be selected. Best, Johanna@EASME

  • Sonja Hansen | Fri, 27/10/2017 - 09:30
    Health - Topic??

    I can't see any topic on Health? There is Energy, Environment, Maritime and SME-instrument.
    Health and social care is an increasing area.
    Kind regards
    Sonja Hansen

  • martizr | Fri, 27/10/2017 - 09:34
    Health projects can be funded

    Health projects can be funded under the SME Instrument. You can also check CHAFEA's website:

    Erwan @EASME

  • Jörgen | Fri, 27/10/2017 - 13:36
    Updated Work Programme?

    The link "Work Programme 2018-2020 (updated on 27/10/2017)" goes to a page with the old (draft) Work Programme, not the one that is (should be?) updated today.

  • martizr | Fri, 27/10/2017 - 14:40
    Thanks for the feedback. It's

    Thanks for the feedback. It's fixed now.

    Erwan @EASME

  • Tatiana | Fri, 27/10/2017 - 16:40
    financial proof

    What does it mean "All projects will be co-financed at 70%"? Does it mean that the remaining 30% will be advanced by the participant SME?
    Will you be asking for the proof of having the remaining 30% for the project?
    Thanks a lot.

  • storejo | Tue, 31/10/2017 - 17:35
    Dear Tatiana, companies have

    Dear Tatiana, companies have to cover 30% of the total cost of the project. In the proposal applicants are requested to clearly indicate and explain how they will provide the 30% co-financing. No supporting documents are requested. Best regards, Johanna@EASME

  • Alex S | Sun, 29/10/2017 - 08:03
    New template for Phase 2

    One Sec 3 the first item is names "Team". If it is a singe beneficiary the highlights for this item are almost identical to the content required on Sec 4. Due to the page limitation on Sec 1-3 can you please explain what is the minimum information expected to be included on Sec 3.

  • storejo | Tue, 31/10/2017 - 17:39
    Dear Alex,

    Dear Alex,

    Section 3 is for describing the team whereas in section 4 you should give more details about the operational capacity of the team with regard to the project.
    For the information to include in section 3 we invite you to follow the detailed instructions given by the template under the item "team":
    3. Implementation
    o Team
    • Describe your team and their achievements and experience in relation to the approach you will be taking.
    • Describe the roles of the team within your project. What is the role of the company's owner(s)?What are the main strengths and weaknesses of the team?
    • If your project is to be implemented by a consortium, describe how the partners complement each other.

    Best regards, Johanna@EASME

  • Bjørn A | Mon, 30/10/2017 - 11:05
    SME self-assessment

    Please explain from where within in the Beneficiary Register page I can access the SME self-assessment questionare?
    I can't find any links to the SME self-assessment questionare on the Beneficiary Register page. Our companty is registred and we have PIC - code.

  • storejo | Tue, 31/10/2017 - 17:40
    Dear Bjorn,

    Dear Bjorn,
    Please find the link towards the self assessment questionnaire:;SME_SESSIO...
    Does this work out for you?
    Best regards, Johanna@EASME

  • ANDREAS | Sat, 04/11/2017 - 18:12


  • storejo | Mon, 06/11/2017 - 18:24
    Dear Andreas, If I understand

    Dear Andreas, If I understand correctly your question, yes cosmetic companies, provided that they have a groundbreaking innovation at TRL 6 that can create a new market, are welcome to apply. From 7/11/2017 there will be no topics anymore so a company from any field can apply. Best Johanna@EASME

  • Charles | Thu, 09/11/2017 - 14:53
    Guidelines for Applicants and financial impact

    The link to the 'Guidelines for Applicants' on the 4th page of the Proposal template 2018-2020 for the SME Instrument Phase 2 project (version 3.2, 27 October 2017) returns 'page not found'. Could you please post a link to the document.

    On the same page, the text 'Please, do not consider the page limit as a target! It is in your interest to keep your text as concise as possible, since experts rarely view unnecessarily long proposals in a positive light.' is repeated.

    On the 6th page of the template under 'Financing' applicants are asked 'What would be the impact of your innovation on the company financials (profit/loss, turnover and cash flows), jobs and efficiency/productivity improvement in the 3 years following the launch of this Phase-2 project?' Should we interpret 'launch of this Phase-2 project' as the beginning of the project/action, or the commercial launch of a product/service resulting from the Phase 2 project?

    Regards, Charles

  • storejo | Tue, 14/11/2017 - 14:57
    Dear Charles, Many thanks for

    Dear Charles, Many thanks for your feedback. The documents have been corrected now. As for your last question, "launch of the Phase 2 project" refers to the starting date of the project following the signature of the grant agreement. Best regards, Johanna@EASME

  • Cornel | Mon, 13/11/2017 - 09:05
    SME instrument

    In Consortium is accepted to enter universities ?

  • storejo | Tue, 14/11/2017 - 10:13
    Dear Cornel, For the SME

    Dear Cornel, For the SME Instrument only small and medium-sized enterprises can be part of the consortium. However, you can subcontract parts of the work to universities. Best, Johanna@EASME

  • Andrea | Mon, 13/11/2017 - 15:43

    Hi, will the new Evaluation Summary Report be available for the next submission too? It would be interesting to look at the new evaluation criteria too before re submitting the project.

  • Andrea | Mon, 13/11/2017 - 15:46

    Will it be possible for applicant to see the new Evaluation Summary Report? It would be interesting to take a look at the new evaluation criteria before re submitting a project.

  • storejo | Tue, 14/11/2017 - 15:31
    Dear Andrea,

    Dear Andrea,
    You can find the self-evaluation forms on the participant portal:
    There is the list of criteria and sub-criteria that will be taken into account during the evaluation.
    As usual the templates can be found in the section 'reference documents', 'templates and forms', 'proposal evaluation forms', '2018-2020', 'standard evaluation form SME'.
    Best regards, Johanna@EASME

  • Marina | Wed, 15/11/2017 - 15:28
    Please inform is it possible

    Please inform is it possible to participate in Fast Track to Innovation 1 company, not consortia?

  • storejo | Fri, 17/11/2017 - 13:28
    Dear Marina, For FTI it is

    Dear Marina, For FTI it is not possible for one single company to apply. Proposals for funding must be submitted by consortia comprising between three and five legal entities established in at least three different EU Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020. Within each consortium there must either be an allocation of at least 60% of the budget to industry participants or the consortium must include a minimum of two industry participants in a consortium of three or four partners, or three industry participants in a consortium of five partners. Best, Johanna@EASME

  • Thomas K | Thu, 16/11/2017 - 11:37
    Template of FTI

    I have downloaded the template from the Horizon2020 participant portal following the start submission button in the link .

    It seems strange to me that the template was changed dramatically from the FTI launched previously without giving emphasis in business plan development requested by the call. I would like to ask you if it is the right template or is another general template uploaded as I want to start developing my proposal.

  • storejo | Fri, 17/11/2017 - 15:31
    Dear Thomas, currently, the

    Dear Thomas, currently, the FTI template is the same as the one for Innovation Actions, except for the maximum number of pages in section B, 1-2-3 (30 for FTI instead of 70 for IA). The template is foreseen to evolve soon to be more coherent with the FTI pilot template, while taking into consideration that FTI is now part of the European Innovation Council pilot. Please consult for now the Work Programme to find the requirements of the call.
    Should you submit a proposal in the meantime, you will be informed if the template changes before the first cut-off date of the call. Best, Johanna@EASME

  • Gwendolynn Grootaers | Mon, 27/11/2017 - 11:36
    FTI template

    Dear Johanna,

    Thank you for the clarification on Thomas' question regarding the FTI template. It would be great if you could be more precise on the template changes however. The current IA template and SME Instrument template differ tremendiously. Assuming the (to be developed) FTI template you are refering to will match the SME Instrument template more or less (regarding their position within the EIT pilot), it would imply that applicants will have to rewrite their entire proposal before the first cut off date. Therefore it would be very helpful to know a) what the FTI template will look like (what sorts of information should be in there, will it be business oriented as the SME Instrument template etc) and b) when we can expect the new template, in order to work as efficiently as possible and still deliver an excellent proposal at the first cut off date in February 2018.

    Kind regards,


  • storejo | Mon, 27/11/2017 - 14:51
    Dear Gwendolynn, We are

    Dear Gwendolynn, We are working on the template; it should be available very soon. It will indeed be more explicit about what we are expecting in relation to the EIC pilot requirements. The structure will be the same as the Innovation Action template. It will just contain more advice for the applicants. There will be no need to rewrite the entire proposal. Best regards, Johanna@EASME

  • Enrico | Mon, 20/11/2017 - 11:33
    Impact of the innovation on the company in SME2 template


    the SME2 template requests to quantify the impact of the innovation on the company financials (profit/loss, turnover and cash flows), jobs and efficiency/productivity improvement in the 3 years following the launch of the Phase-2 project. Accordingly, we will be forecasting only one year (in case of 24 months project) of commercialisation, instead of the regular 3 (or 5) years of sales projections of a standard Business Plan. Shouldn't the template be modified with either " the 3 years following the end of the Phase-2 project" or " the 5 years following the launch of the Phase-2 project"?

    Thank you,



  • storejo | Fri, 24/11/2017 - 15:47
    Dear Enrico,

    Dear Enrico,
    The idea is that we would like to have a picture of the financial viability of your company during the project but also after. If you have a standard business plan with either 3 or 5 years that's ok, we just need to have an idea of your financial viability during and after the funding. Best, Johanna@EASME

  • Nils G Persson | Sun, 26/11/2017 - 16:34
    Expert evaluators pool

    Hi, I have been selected for the FTI 2018 expert evaluators pool and have been asked to update my legal entity data. Where do I log-in to find thr form? Kind regards

  • storejo | Mon, 27/11/2017 - 14:47
    Dear Nils,

    Dear Nils,
    Please log in the participant portal You can then update your information in the Personal Details page. You can also check the Participant portal IT manual
    Best regards, Johanna

  • Carmel | Thu, 07/12/2017 - 17:51
    Fast Track to Innovation Page Limit

    Could you please confirm the page limit for Fast Track to Innovation submissions? To my knowledge the page limit was 30 for the pilot phase. The FTI page on the participant portal has templates for Research and Innovation (70 pages) and Co-ordination and Support (50 pages). Am I correct in assuming that there has been a significant increase in the page limit?

  • storejo | Mon, 11/12/2017 - 15:46
    Dear Carmel, the specific

    Dear Carmel, the specific template for FTI is available for download when you start the submission. It is in word version and mentions that the number of pages for the sections 1 to 3 is limited to 30 pages only. Best regards, Johanna@EASME

  • ON | Tue, 27/02/2018 - 10:23
    Ask questions

    Hi! There used to be an area on this website until the end of 2017 or so, where anyone could ask any question relating to the SME Instrument (I believe it was called "Ask your questions"). Where can we ask for clarifications now?
    I see that most articles here do not have the option for posting comments anymore; the article above is an exception luckily.
    Will you re-open this "Ask your questions" area again? Thank you.

  • Juan | Wed, 28/02/2018 - 11:16
    FTI - Contribution to the work program - Evaluation criteria.

    Dear Sirs,
    Under the criterium "contribution to work programme under the relevant topic" it is usually assessed how the proposal contributes to solve the challenges set in the WP. Nevertheless FTI is bottom-up so proposal do not require to be addressed to a specific topic and therefore no explanation about hot the proposal contributes to a WP topic can me given.
    On the other hand, at the FTI PartB template, section 1.2 it is said "Indicate why your proposal would fit under the section European Innovation Council pilot of the Work Programme. " and the EIC WP does not include topics.
    Do we have to choose any technical topic from LEIT or KET WPs to address? or when it is said "EIC WP topics" it means market issues such "development of breakthrough products, open new markets, reduce time to market, realistic potential..."

    Thank you very much.


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