Recently there has been more and more information on fundings from Brussels, including Horizon 2020 and the SME Instrument. These two names are often treated interchangeably, which may arouse considerable doubts. Let us explain what it is all about.
Grants from Brussels
Programmes that offer funds directly from Brussels are aimed at all Member States and selected Associated Countries. Unlike in domestic programmes, companies from each of these states may apply for funding, if it meets the requirements of the chosen programme. An application for grant (prepared in English) has to be submitted directly to European Commission. Then it is evaluated by independent experts and competes with projects from other countries.
Horizon 2020, often referred to as H2020, is the biggest programme for funding innovative solutions in the history of the EU. The programme, which took effect at the beginning of 2014, will be active till 2020. It is a continuation of the funds supporting scientific research and innovation, such as the RTD Framework programme (FP7), the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) and the subsidies granted by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).
Horizon 2020 includes many smaller programmes, directed to different entities, including scientists, universities, consortia, large companies or SMEs. Examples of programmes supporting the development of small and medium enterprises include the SME Instrument and the Fast Track to Innovation.
The SME Instrument is a part of the Horizon that finances innovative projects, implemented by small and medium enterprises. The programme is aimed to strengthen innovativeness of European companies and help quickly launch their innovations on the market. Within seven years of the duration of the instrument, companies may gain the total of EUR 3 billion. Subsidies are granted to projects in two funding phases, and applications may be submitted a few times per year. A company may conclude a consortium agreement with its business partners and/or subcontract a part of works to specialist research and development units.