SME Instrument

Up to €2.5 million for innovation

Horizon 2020´s SME Instrument is a European Commission programme for the most innovative SMEs.

The aim of the SME Instrument is to transform disruptive ideas into concrete, innovative solutions with a European and global impact.

Any SME from a European Union member state or selected associated countries may apply

Companies can receive funding of up to €2.5 million, and business coaching

Funding is given to the most innovative companies and the best prepared projects.


  • Phase 1 Feasibility Assessment

    Evaluation of the business potential through the technical and economic analysis

  • Phase 2 Development

    Preparation of innovative idea to market implementation (business and technical aspects)

  • Phase 3 Comercialization

    Support during the introduction of the product to the market


Small and medium enterprise (SME)
Innovation disruptive on a global scale
Prototype TRL 6 or higher
Company is reliable
Small and medium enterprise (SME)
  • Company may employ up to 250 people with a maximum annual turnover of € 50 million.
  • A company may apply alone or participate in a consortium with business partners.
  • The full definition of SME provided by the European Commission is available at:

Innovation disruptive on a global scale

Disruptive innovation changes the rules of existing markets or creates new ones.

The project should solve a particular problem and there should be a real market demand for the solution.

Prototype TRL 6 or higher

Technology readiness levels are used to describe the maturity of technological solutions.

TRL 6 means that the technology has been demonstrated in an operational environment. There should be a working prototype that has been successfully tested.

Company is reliable

As long as you are an established SME you can apply for funding, whether you are a start-up or a company with 20 years of experience.

Your chances increase if the company has been operating for more than 2 years and has at least a few employees.

€ 3.2 billion is the total budget of the SME Instrument


The European Commission is directly funding projects in two phases, depending on the maturity of the solution.

Phase 1

€ 50 000 per project
  • Up to 6 months
  • 70% funding
  • Feasibility study preparation (business and technical)
  • Free business coaching

Phase 2

funding up to
€ 2 500 000 per project
  • Up to 24 months
  • 70% funding
  • Demonstration activities: testing, prototyping, design, scaling-up, miniaturization and pilot actions.
    Business plan preparation.
    Communication activities.
  • Free business coaching

Phase 3

No funding per project
  • Time adjusted individually
  • No direct funding
  • Support is provided through assistance in accessing to venture capital and other EU financial instruments and innovation support
  • Free business coaching

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Deadlines 2020


8th of January 2020

18th of March 2020

19th of May 2020

7th of October 2020