EASME

SME Instrument: essential tips for your application

SME Instrument: essential tips for your application

The SME Instrument is now part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot with lots of new opportunities and a brand new evaluation system. Here's a list of tips to help you prepare the perfect proposal. Some may seem obvious but, believe us, they can make a huge difference to the success of your project!

 

Is the SME Instrument really for you?

Before you take a strategic decision to apply, look carefully at the objectives of the Work Programme 2018-2020 and assess if your project is in line with them. In a nutshell, you need a breakthrough innovation with the potential to create entirely new markets or revolutionise existing ones, a clear ambition to grow at international level, a demonstrated knowledge of your target market and a convincing business plan. It is crucial that you are ready to convince on each and every one of these aspects.

 

You should also seek advice from National Contact Points, your local branch of the Enterprise Europe Network or other structures, such as incubators. Before meeting them, prepare a 3 minutes pitch of your project to make sure your ideas are clearly presented. If the EIC SME Instrument is not for you, they will direct you towards other funding available at European, national or regional levels. You can also have a look at the EIC wizard to see what innovation funding would best suit your project.

Write to convince evaluators to invest in your business

 

Four remote evaluators will look at different aspects of your proposal: the technology, market knowledge, commercialisation plan, and the financial angle. Each of the evaluators will look at 3 criteria: impact, excellence, and implementation. Make sure your proposal is well balanced and covers all the aspects for each evaluation criteria:

Impact: you need to demonstrate that your project will generate revenues and create jobs. Explain the market conditions and the evolution of the competition. Provide concrete and realistic figures on the market size, the market share, the sales price. Show at least 3 years of projection of sales volume, turnover and number of jobs created. Do not forget to describe your commercialisation plan. A key aspect to remember is that you have to demonstrate that your project has a European or international dimension. If it’s targeted only at a national market, it won’t be supported by the SME Instrument. The protection of intellectual property is also very important and must be explained.

Excellence: you need to convince the evaluators that your innovation is excellent, that your product, process or service is disruptive, that it has the potential to change the dynamic of the market and possibly to address a societal challenge. Show the added value of your idea and explain why it is viable and better than existing solutions.  While it's important to describe the opportunities, you must also demonstrate that you understand the risks.

Implementation: you need to convince the evaluators that you can make it. Don't forget that, as well as describing technical competence, you'll also need to provide information on commercial competence. Evaluators will assess the credibility of your team and of your work plan. Make sure you clearly describe how you will organise your team and, if you intend to use external partners to bring competences that you don't have in your company, explain what they will do and what they will bring. Planning is important as well: your project should fit into a realistic time frame.

Get ready to shine! Under the SME Instrument, Phase 2 proposals will go through a second evaluation step consisting of face-to-face interviews. The interview will be in English and last 30 minutes. Companies selected for the interview will receive a pitch document in the invitation to participate to the second step - a template will be attached to the invitation letter. Make sure that your 10 minute presentation is pitch-perfect and that you are prepared to go into the details of your application during the 20 minutes of questions and answers. Before applying also make sure that you are available to travel to Brussels on the following dates corresponding to the cut-off date of your application:

- interview week for 1st cut-off date: February 12-16;
- interview week for 2nd cut-off date: April 16-20;
- interview week for 3rd cut-off date: June 25-29;
- interview week for 4th cut-off date: November 12-16.
 
Only staff legally employed can attend the interviews, preferably the CEO and senior staff. 

Form also matters

Take time to think about a catchy title and to craft an attractive abstract. These two elements are very important as they will be the first impression the evaluators will get from your project. You are strongly advised to use the new templates prepared for Phase 1 and Phase 2  that also include guidance concerning the information requested, the format and the number of pages. You have 10 pages to present your plan for Phase 1 and 30 pages for Phase 2 - use all of them (yes you can delete the hints that are inserted in the template!). Bear in mind that form matters, take the time to review and polish the language. We advise you to write your proposal in English. 

In the preparation of your proposal, you are requested to select associated keywords from a predefined list. It is of the utmost importance that you select the highest number of relevant keywords that correspond to your proposal with a maximum of three main keywords and three sub-keywords. By selecting the most appropriate keywords you ensure that your proposal is attributed to expert-evaluators who have the most relevant thematic knowledge to adequately evaluate it.

We hope that these tips will help you to prepare an excellent proposal and that you will soon join the SME Instrument Community! If you have questions or remarks you can use the comments module below or get in touch with us via Twitter @H2020SME.

Do you need more tips? Have a look at the Guidelines for Applicants.

"Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result."  - Oscar Wilde

 

 

Disclaimer: 
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.

Comments

  • GENOCOSMETICS LAB's picture

    WE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE INFO OF WHAT PROCEDURES AND FORMAT TO USE FOR AN OFFICIAL CALL

  • Anonymous's picture

    For SME Instrument Phase I and phase II calls, please check on this page http://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/horizons-2020-sme-instrument

    Best regards,
    Agnieszka @EASME

  • Kerim Idil's picture

    Hello.

    We would like to know when are the December 17th SME Instrument Phase 1 results be published?

    Might I remind you that an interesting aspect of the H2020 calls is that if you fail to be elected for one you can re-apply for the next cut-off? In this case the next cut-off is in less than ten days and we yet do not have any results published. Just a vague email indicating that one of our projects does not pass the threshold without indicating which one (I have 4 projects in line).

    Might I again remind you that the original publishing dates of the results was nearly a month ago?

    Kind regards,

    Looking forward to reading from you.

  • Kerim Idil's picture

    Hello.

    We would like to know when are the December 17th SME Instrument Phase 1 results be published?

    Might I remind you that an interesting aspect of the H2020 calls is that if you fail to be elected for one you can re-apply for the next cut-off? In this case the next cut-off is in less than ten days and we yet do not have any results published. Just a vague email indicating that one of our projects does not pass the threshold without indicating which one (I have 4 projects in line).

    Might I again remind you that the original publishing dates of the results was nearly a month ago?

    Kind regards,

    Looking forward to reading from you.

  • chladag's picture

    Dear Kerim,
    Budget reallocation (please see here https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/news/sme-instrument-results-phase-1-decemb...) is taking longer than planned. We are aware of all the issues you mention above and do our best to send results on time. The interesting aspect of the SME instrument is also that the call is continuously open and you can apply whenever you want.
    We understand that it's frustrating though.
    Best regards,
    Agnieszka @EASME

  • Kerim Idil's picture

    Thanks for your prompt answer.

    Looking forward continuing to work with the EC.

    Kind regards

  • Mark's picture

    Right, what is going on with this scheme? When will the results from December be published? When will feedback be received?

  • Layla's picture

    How do I know when and how I can apply my projects? Is phase 2 already ended? When does phase 3 start? Where can I find procedures etc?

  • martizr's picture

    You will find some explanation about the different phases and a calendar on the following page: http://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/horizons-2020-sme-instrument

    Erwan @EASME

  • Mark's picture

    Is anybody else having trouble opening the feedback PDFs?

  • Lucian's picture

    Yes, we also had problems opening the feedback docs.
    I think it was due to the fact they were published on the 18/03, just 5 hours away from the next-cut-off deadline.
    Probably if you retry in the evenings or during weekend there would be no problem

  • Simon's picture

    Hello,

    I am looking for the new standard proposal templates for SME Instrument 2016-2017. Indeed, when clicking on "standard proposal template" on the topics pages (e.g http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/opportunitie...) we get an empty page with a simple sentence: "This document will be available soon." As the deadline for phase 2 is coming closer, when this document will be available?
    Best Regards,

  • faturma's picture

    The 2016-17 templates are available. You need to start your submission and you'll find them.
    Marie @EASME

  • Rytis's picture

    When filling SME instrument's phase 1 proposal submission templates section about innovation project's participants should there be provided info about overall (including phase 2) projects participants or only about participants for phase 1 activities!? The same question about participants applies to this proposal's technical annex section 4 - is it about overall project's participants or only phase 1 participants!?
    If proposal for phase 1 is presented by consortium, should there by consortium agreement attached!?

    Many thanks!

  • storejo's picture

    Dear Rytis,
    You can include information on project participants only for Phase 1. The consortium agreement does not have to be attached.
    Best regards,
    Johanna@EASME

  • eoin's picture

    Hi @EASME team.
    Our company structure is a "topco" / holding company that is only an investment vehicle (investors hold shares in this entity) and this "topco" owns 100% of a trading subsidiary in which all tech / IP is developed and all sales and expenses are accounted etc.
    What entity do I submit for the SME validation?
    Also - will management accounts from our accountant suffice or do they need to be audited?
    Thanks.

  • Ed's picture

    We have same structure. It looks like the trading company is not an SME, which would be a shame!

  • rytis's picture

    Hi,

    We want to prepare proposal for SME phase1. We are developing technology which helps quickly cover large areas of buildings energetic insulation performance. But we have found that there was very similar project presented in 2014 for phase1, attemting to create their technology for the same purpose, received 50.000, and had to be over at 2015 January. Their technology is based on laser scanning and ours is based on photogrametry. There is no information about the results of this project. It is possible that they have not succeeded creating this technology at all.
    Does this competitive proposal effects in any way our proposal submission?
    Will there be any problems when evaluating our proposal? Or maybe our proposal has no chances initially? How to get any information about the results of this competitive proposal?

    Thank you

  • faturma's picture

    Hello,

    this shouldn't be a problem. If your idea is innovative enough, you might succeed. The result of Phase 1 is the feasibilty study. The best projects often continue to Phase 2.

    Best, Marie @EASME

  • Cgbravo's picture

    Hi @EASME team.

    I wonder if it is possible (recommended?) tables and figures used in the presentation. I thought about it a lot and every time I check memory think the text becomes too hard. Thank you.

  • faturma's picture

    Hello,

    if you are refering to the application process, you should follow the template. Any other documents that you find important, you can upload as an annex.

    Best, Marie @EASME

  • Anna's picture

    Hello,
    Regarding the submission of proposal for SME Phase 1, should we upload/attach separately prepared documents of "feasibility report" and "business plan"?
    Thank you.

  • faturma's picture

    Dear Anna,

    when applying for SME Instrument, you should follow the template. A feasibility study is an outcome of Phase 1, however, if you have any documents you find relevant for your application, you can submit them as annexes.

    Best, Marie @EASME

  • Andromake's picture

    Hello,

    I need a little help.
    Where can I find the template for a partnership letter? I need it to partecipate to one open call.

    Thank you.

    Best regards.

  • faturma's picture

    From your comments we understood that you were looking for information of the "consortium agreement". In the link you can find the "Guidance How to draw up your consortium agreement"

    http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/gm/h2020-...

    Please, let us know if you need further clarification or if you were looking for other document.

    EASME team

  • ANDROMAKE's picture

    Thank you very much for the answer.
    I think that would be OK.. :D

  • Cathrine Christensen's picture

    One very important thing to notice is that each evaluator is only given a few hours to evaluate each proposal. During your writing, keep this is mind! My pieces of advice on the writing and form are:

    1) Keep your text clear, simple and understandable. If your project is very technical, try to give an overall idea of the project.
    2) Remember that the evaluator may not be an expert on your exact area of technology. If you use abbreviations – explain them. There is no time to Google.
    3) Present a proposal that varies between text and illustrations. 10/30 pages of plain text can kill a good proposal. Use pictures, illustrations, graphs etc. What makes your project more understandable to the reader?

    Read our Funding Guide for more "how to"
    http://www.techfunding.eu/guide

    Best regards,
    Cathrine Christensen
    http://www.teknologiudvikling.dk

  • ANDROMAKE's picture

    Hello,
    We are preparing the documents for a proposal for a call H2020-SMEInst-2016-2017.
    We would have some partners and third part for the proposal.
    SITA Compositi - PIC 926663893 (Director Enrico Bocci) would be the holder of the proposal and Andromake d.o.o.- PIC 926865847 (Director Paola Pellicioli) would like to be third part partner. Is it in this case a conflict of interest if the directors are husband and wife?

    Thank you for the answer.
    Best regards

  • faturma's picture

    Hello,
    this is not a conflict of interests. But you might want to contact EASME-SME-HELPDESK@ec.europa.eu and check your particular request.

    Best, Marie@EASME

  • ANDROMAKE's picture

    Tank you very much Marie!

    Have a nice day.

  • ANDROMAKE's picture

    Tank you very much Marie!

    Have a nice day.

  • Thomasch's picture

    Hi,
    in case of a singly entity application is it required to fill section 4 or is this only required in case of a consortia? If it is not required in which section/point we have to add the description of our company?
    Thanks and Regards

  • faturma's picture

    Hello, you need to describe just the company that is participating. You need to fill the the section 4.
    Marie @EASME

  • Giulia's picture

    Dear sir/madam,

    I would like to contact you as I have some questions regarding the total budget calculation for the SME Instrument Phase 2:

    If I understood correctly from the contract we can include several costs, such as:

    - staff costs

    - costs of subcontracting

    - indirect costs (up to maximum 25% of total direct costs - excluding costs of subcontracting). Anyway in this case I imagine we can include only indirect costs related to the activity. i.e. if we have an SME with 20 employees but only 4 are working on the project, we can include 1/5 of the company total indirect costs for example correct?

    - in terms of equipment costs, if we have to purchase an equipment that will be used for the pilot phase but also for the production phase, should we include it only with respect to the depreciation costs of equipment (for the duration of the action) or also can we use the alternative option (indicated under letter D2 of the article 6.2 of the model grant agreement SME 2) where the whole cost of equipment can be included? (however I could not find this option on the work programme)

    For the preparation for the budget should we use the table 'ESTIMATED BUDGET FOR THE ACTION' found on page 92 of the 'h2020 - m grant agreement sme 2 mono'? where can we find an excel version of this table before starting the proposal submission?

    Thanks a lot for your help
    Kind regards

    Giulia

  • faturma's picture

    Dear Guilia, please contact your Project Officer with this specific question.
    Best regards, Marie @EASME

  • Giulia's picture

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    To calculate the person-months for a given Work Package within the SME Instrument Phase 2, can we use this explanation?

    Person-months factors help to determinate the effort which is necessary to make a certain action done (Work Packages). To calculate it, multiply the total number of hours allocated to the relevant WP by 12 and divide the result by 1720.

    For instance, if 350 working hours are allocated to member of the staff X and 510 working hours are allocated to member of the Staff Y, the person-months of that work package is 6. ((350+510)*12)/1720

    Thanks
    Kind regards

    Giulia

  • faturma's picture

    Dear Gulia
    for this technial quetsion please contact your Project Officer or easme-sme-helpdesk@ec.europe.eu

    Marie @EASME

  • Polona's picture

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    we are interested in when it is necessary to sign a consortium agreement. Do we understand correctly that at the application stage it is not necessary to attach it? And that it should be signed just when (and if) the project is approved (that is prior to signing the contract with the Agency)?

    Regards,

  • martizr's picture

    You understood correctly. The consortium agreement does not need to be signed at the application stage. Only when you sign the grant agreement.

    Erwan @EASME

  • Brian's picture

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    we are interested in how long the feasibility study should be?

    Regards,

  • faturma's picture

    Dear Brian,
    the final report can not exceed 20 pages. There is no limit on the feasibility study.
    Best, Marie @EASME

  • Ainura's picture

    Hello,
    My project is aimed to develop a new drug from plant extract for treatment of human disease.
    In the list of topic for SME eligible for application I found two health topics which seem to be out of my scope:
    1. Supporting innovative SMEs in the healthcare biotechnology sector with precise focus on cell technologies and clinical research on biomarkers.
    2. Accelerating market introduction of ICT solutions for Health, Well-Being and Ageing Well with the focus on e-health and computer technology.

    Am I eligible for the TOPIC : Dedicated support to biotechnology SMEs closing the gap from lab to market?
    Or is there another topic which best fit to my project?

    Sincerely, Ainura

  • faturma's picture

    Dear Ainura,
    please contact easme-sme-helpdesk@ec.europa.eu with this question.

    Regards, Marie @EASME

  • Mariastella's picture

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    I am preparing the applications timeline for a project - I was wondering if it is possible to apply for phaseII while phaseI is still running? My question is in order to minimise the gap between applications, since evaluation to phaseII takes about 4 months.
    Thanks!
    Mariastella

  • martizr's picture

    Hello, you need to finish your Phase 1 project before being able to apply under Phase 2.

    Erwan @EASME

  • bart's picture

    Hello,

    I have 3 questions which I hope you are able to answer:
    1) Does the Phase 1 proposal already require detailed financial forecasts beyond the cost layout for the study itself?
    2) What is the minimum expected TRL level coming out of the study?
    3) Is it possible to add graphs & pictures in the proposal?

    Thank you for your reply.

    Bart
    e.g.

  • storejo's picture

    Dear Bart, Here are the answers to your questions: 1. No. 2. The minimum expected is TRL 6 3. Yes it is possible. Best regards Johanna@EASME

  • Ivan Matijašević's picture

    Dear all

    Is there any template how the Global Feasibility study should look like? Which should be the result of the Phase 1. I am also interested to see the contract proposal for Phase 1, as a lots of clients do want to see how do the process (if everything goes well of course) look like.

    Best regards

    Ivan Matijasevic, MBA

  • storejo's picture

    Dear Ivan,
    There are no templates as such for the feasibility study but have a look at the requirements for the Phase 1 final report here:
    http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/gm/reporting/h2...
    AS for the model contract you can have a look at the Annotated Model Grant Agreement here:
    http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/grants_manual/a...

    I hope this helps!
    Johanna@EASME

  • Haolin Jia 's picture

    Dear all

    2 queries about Phase 1 project completion and Phase 2 application

    1. How would Phase 1 be considered as complete? is Phase 1 considered complete once the Final Report is submitted? Or does it take a certain amount of time for Phase 1 Final Report (from the day it is submitted) to be evaluated by the European Commission before Phase 1 is considered complete?

    2. (As a continuation from first question) If it takes time for EC to review Phase 1 to consider it as complete, could we still use our Phase 1 results to go ahead to apply for Phase 2 by 18 January 2017? since according to this link it is possible: https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/support/faq...

    Thank you in advance for the clarifications! Really appreciate the help.

    Kind Regards
    Haolin Jia

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