What is the SME Instrument?

Horizon 2020 – the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation – funds high-potential innovation developed by SMEs through the SME instrument.

The SME instrument supports close-to-market activities, with the aim to give a strong boost to breakthrough innovation with a market-creating potential. Highly innovative SMEs with a clear commercial ambition and a potential for high growth and internationalisation are the prime target.

In the last three years of implementation around 4000 SMEs will be selected to receive funding under the SME instrument call. The budget is about € 1.6 billion in total over the period 2018-2020.

Available to SMEs only, the new scheme offers phased, progressive and complementary support to the development of out-of-the-box ideas. There are no predefined topics for the SME instrument call; only the most excellent and impactful ideas will receive support.

The SME Instrument offers small and medium-sized businesses the following:

  • Business innovation grants for feasibility assessment purposes (optional phase I): EUR 50,000 (lump sum) per project (70% of total cost of the project);
  • Business innovation grants for innovation development & demonstration purposes (possible phase II): an amount in the indicative range of EUR 500,000 and 2,5 million (70% of total cost of the project as a general rule);
  • Free-of-charge business coaching (optional) in order to support and enhance the firm’s innovation capacity and help align the project to strategic business needs;
  • Access to a wide range of other business acceleration services and facilitated access to risk finance, to facilitate the commercial exploitation of the innovation.

More information:

Checkliste SME Instrument and user guide to SME definition


Step by step instructions for submitting a proposal to SME Instrument