Phase 2Tips

Can my company get an SME Instrument grant?

If your company is an innovative small or medium enterprise, then the simple answer is yes. But the European Commission defines SME and innovation in very specific ways and the final answer is not always so simple. Here’s a closer look at the EC definitions:

Small and Medium Enterprise (SME)

The basic factors determining whether a company is an SME are the number of employees and the annual turnover. An SME may employ up to 250 people and have a maximum turnover of EUR 50 million. The full definition of SME provided by the Commission is available at:


Here it gets more complicated. In many countries, ‘innovation’ is often understood as ‘new for a given company’. However, in the case of the SME Instrument it will not be analysed only from a local perspective. A broader perspective is recommended at the time of considering your project’s chances in this programme.
An innovative concept must meet the following requirements:

1. The innovation is on the European scale at last

Meaning no-one else has introduced this solution so far. It is worth carrying out a thorough research on the competition: locally, EU-wide and even globally. By demonstrating that you have analysed the market environment you present your company as a reliable enterprise that has everything under control.

2. The innovation is disruptive

Disruptive innovation has a significant impact on the market and companies operating in it. Not merely the novelty aspect of the solution, but rather the effects of its implementation. Disruptive innovation results in replacing earlier solutions in a given field with a new one. If you are older than twenty, think CDs replacing cassettes.

3. The innovation is in development phase

The innovation has not reached full maturity, it is not a commercially-available finished product. It is still being tested, transformed and developed. The project should also have a positive influence on the development of the company as a whole.

4. There is real demand for the innovation 

The EC evaluates if the innovation is really sought after. That means your project should solve a real problem with actual and verified market demand.

4. The innovation has reached TRL6 or higher 

Technology readiness levels are used to describe the maturity of technology. This method is used for comparison of the advancement of works related to different technologies. TRL 6 means that the technology has been demonstrated in close-to-real environment with positive results and that final product development may proceed.

Are you an innovative SME, considering your chances in the program but still unsure if you are the right candidate? Contact us & get a free feedback