SME Instrument programme

SME Instrument programme

SME Instrument programme

The EIC Accelerator, formerly known as SME Instrument, is the new European funding instrument of Horizon 2020 to support European SMEs, including start-ups, with innovative ideas supported by a business plan for commercialization and scale-up.

Those who can benefit from this funding programme are small and medium-sized enterprises with high innovation potential that show a strong ambition to develop, grow and internationalise. SME Instrument therefore aims to valorize the innovative potential of young companies and start-ups in any sector for profit. SMEs must be established in an EU Member State or in a country connected to Horizon 2020.

This programme is organised in two phases, offering SMEs support throughout the innovation cycle. It starts with the feasibility study of the idea and ends with the technical development of the product. In addition, SME Instrument offers a mentoring and coaching service.

SME Instrument phases

The SME Instrument is divided into 2 phases:

SME Instrument 1° phase: proof of concept. It allows the development of a feasibility study that verifies the technological/practical as well as economic effectiveness of a considerably innovative idea/concept for the industrial sector in which it is presented  (new products, processes, design, services and technologies or new market applications of existing technologies). The amount of the contribution for the first phase is €50,000 flat rate, for projects with a maximum duration of 6 months.

SME Instrument 2° phase: development and demonstration. It allows the development of innovative projects that demonstrate a high potential in terms of competitiveness and growth supported by a strategic business plan. The objective is to bring an innovative idea that is strategic to be launched on the market. For this second phase, the EU covers 70% of the total project cost, with a grant ranging from a minimum of €500,000 to a maximum of €2,500,000. The duration of projects can vary between 12 and 24 months.