The word ‘innovative’ is often understood as ‘new for a given company’. In the case of the SME Instrument it cannot be analysed only from a local perspective. A broader point of view is necessary when considering the chances the project may have in this programme.
An innovative concept has to meet the following requirements:
The innovation is on the European scale
It means that no company has introduced this solution so far. It is worth carrying out thorough research on the competition, both at home and abroad. It will give us peace of mind when of submitting the application. By demonstrating that you have analysed the environment you can also present your company as a reliable enterprise that has everything under control.
Innovation is disruptive
Disruptive innovation has a significant impact on the market and companies operating on it. However, it is not merely about the ‘novelty’ of a solution, but rather the effects of its implementation. Disruptive innovation should result in replacing earlier solutions in a given field with a new one. CDs, which replaced cassettes, may serve as a good example here.
The project is in its development phase
The project has not reached full maturity, it is not a finished product, available in regular sale. It still undergoes tests, transformation and development. Additionally, the project should also have a positive influence on the development of the company.
Real demand for innovation
The EC evaluates usability of the innovation. The project may not be innovative as such, but it should solve a particular problem and there should be actual market demand for the project. Demand for the project should be verified.
Innovation has reached TRL 6 or higher.
Technology readiness levels are used to describe the maturity of technology. They allow to compare the advancement of works on technologies from different fields.
TRL 6 means that technology has been demonstrated in the environment that is close to the real environment, i.e. initial actions have been taken to confirm project feasibility. All signs indicate that the final product may be developed and will serve the purpose.
Innovation has to be included in the topics of the SME Instrument.
Every two years the European Commission sets priority topics for the development of innovativeness in Europe. An application within the SME Instrument has to be submitted in a relevant topic, to have any chance for co-financing.