Who can fund the Seal of Excellence for SME Instrument

Any public authority or a private organisation with funding power, interested in investing in promising companies with innovative project proposals can fund the Seal of Excellence

Any public authority or a private organisation with funding power, interested in investing in promising companies with innovative project proposals can fund the Seal of Excellence (i.e. Regions, Member States, private foundations, Managing Authorities, banks, venture capitalists, business angels, funding agencies and any other interested funding body).

The Seal of Excellence is awarded to proposals presented by one or more SMEs under the SME Instrument of Horizon 2020 (both Phases 1 and 2). It helps identify high-impact proposals coming from promising, innovative companies, with ambitions to grow and compete internationally.

The Seal of Excellence offers a unique opportunity to other funding bodies to make use of the high-quality Horizon 2020 evaluation process.

A growing number of Member States, regions and funding bodies have recognised the advantages of the selection process and the approach of the SME instrument and are identifying the best ways to support proposals awarded the Seal of Excellence.

Until the November 2016 cut-off date, 4801 SME Instrument projects have been awarded with the Seal of Excellence certificate.


Tips to fund Seal of Excellence SME Instrument projects

  • Do not miss the opportunity. Seal of Excellence holders are great projects, not leftovers from Horizon 2020. The same strict criteria, international expert panel, transparent and competitive evaluation process applied to these projects and they were found to deserve funding
  • By investing in Seal of Excellence proposals, you take full advantage of Horizon 2020's first-class evaluation system. You save time, make smart use of your resources, increase research and innovation impact and performance in your local area
  • Keep the process as simple as possible. No need to re-evaluate the content, just limit the checks to the minimum required by your rules. This will significantly reduce the administrative burden for you and the SME
  • Horizon 2020 Associated Countries are also invited to consider supporting the Seal of Excellence through their own national or regional funding. The Seal of Excellence is awarded to all proposals which qualify, including those located in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries
  • Consider offering different types of support (e.g. grants, loans, guarantees, coaching) and possibly combing a few. Seal of Excellence proposals may expect grants and the same aid intensity as Horizon 2020, but they could also be happy with other degrees of support
  • If you are a Member State or region and want to use European Structural & Investment Funds (ESI Funds), you can either launch targeted calls for the Seal of Excellence, or use existing schemes with bonus points. You just need to include it in your selection criteria, approved by the monitoring committee
  • Supporting projects while complying with state aid rules is possible. If you use national or regional public funds, you will need to comply with state aid rules  PDF icon 873 KB . There is specific regulation for research and development aid which will allow, under certain conditions, the support of these proposals with aid intensity similar to Horizon 2020
  • When you receive the Seal of Excellence, check the authenticity and integrity of the electronic certificate. The document is digitally protected, meaning that attempts to change the data in the certificate will invalidate the document. You should also ask for the digitally protected submitted proposal and the evaluation summary report
  • If you do not yet have many proposals with the Seal of Excellence in your country or region, this could with visibility that could rapidly change
  • If you already established steps to support the Seal of Excellence, we will promote them and give you visibility
  • If you want to know more about the SME Instrument, contact your local Horizon 2020 National Contact Point or Enterprise Europe Network member
  • If you are looking for more detailed information or want to know how many proposals in your region have a Seal of Excellence, register to the Community of Practice reserved for funders. This is a platform created by the Commission for the exchange of good practices among funding bodies interested in funding Seal of Excellence proposals

Want to actively participate in the Seal of Excellence approach for the SME Instrument? Join the Community of Practice

The Commission services support funding bodies interested in supporting Seal of Excellence projects through the Community of Practice. Access is limited to national or regional authorities able to provide funding on research and innovation, or any other funding agency for innovative SMEs.

If you join the Community of Practice, you will have access to:

  • Meetings to discuss current practices and future developments
  • The SINAPSE library including all relevant documents
  • The SINAPSE discussion fora
  • Aggregated figures on numbers and topics of Seal of Excellence awarded proposals in your own country/region
  • Exchange of experiences with other funding bodies e.g. how to decide on selection criteria, timing of implementation of the calls, type of calls to be issued, etc
  • Promotion of your Seal of Excellence-friendly measures through the Commission website and targeted emails to relevant group of Seal of Excellence holders

Join the Community of Practice or contact us

Community of Practice