The SME instrument has been designed specifically for single or groups of highly innovative SMEs with international ambitions, determined to turn strong, innovative business ideas into winners on the market. The instrument provides full-cycle business innovation support from the stage of business idea conception and planning over business plan execution and demonstration to commercialisation. Participants will be able to call on business innovation coaching for the duration of their project.


pdf icon SME Instrument Infographic

File size: 174kb

Infographic outlining the three phases of the SME Instrument

pdf icon SME Instrument Leaflet

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DL leaflet - brief overview

pdf icon SME Factsheet

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Factsheet on measures for SME's in Horizon 2020 programme

pdf icon SME Instrument Overview

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Presentation providing a brief overview to the SME Instrument programme

Detailed overview of the SME Instrument

pptx icon Application Process

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Submission and Evaluation Tool for the SME Instrument

pdf icon SME Instrument Phase 1

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Example of a Proposal Submission Form and Research Proposal Template

pdf icon SME Instrument Phase 2

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Example of a Proposal Submission Form and Research Proposal Template

jpg icon SME Instrument

File size: 71kb


The SME Instrument

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises that are EU-based can now get EU funding and support for innovation projects that will help them grow and expand their activities into other countries in Europe and beyond.

Provided with about €3 billion in funding over the period 2014-20, the SME Instrument helps high-potential SMEs to develop ground-breaking innovative ideas for products, services or processes that are ready to face global market competition. 

The scheme has opened a new highway to innovation through phased, progressive and complimentary support:

  • Phase I (proof-of-concept): Explore the scientific or technical feasibility and commercial potential of your new idea in order to develop an innovation project, with the help of a € 50,000 grant per project (70% of total cost of the project), and receive more support in case of a positive outcome!
  • Phase II (development & demonstration): Develop your sound, ground-breaking business idea further with the help of a grant in the order of € 500,000 to 2,5 million (70% of total cost of the project) into a market-ready product, service or process!
  • Phase III (go-to-market): Take advantage of additional EU support to enter the market successfully (no grants).
    • Access to a wide range of innovation support services and facilitated access to risk finance to facilitate the commercial exploitation of the innovation.
  • Free-of-charge business coaching to support and enhance the firm's innovation capacity and help align the project to strategic business needs.

Eligibility criteria

Highly innovative SMEs with a clear commercial ambition and a potential for high growth and internationalisation are the prime target.