Did you know that almost half of the companies applying to the SME Instrument are micro-sized enterprises, that most companies apply for ICT and that Ireland is the most efficient country in getting its proposals funded?
As part of the Horizon 2020 programme, the European Commission is selecting potentially disruptive businesses to support with the SME Instrument. Small and medium-sized enterprises with a strong growth potential and the ambition to become world-market leaders can receive up to € 2.5 million to fast-track their innovations on the market.
The programme has been running for more than two years now and first results are becoming clear. So how has the SME Instrument kicked-off? Who are the companies that have been selected? Here are a few facts about the programme.
Since its launch in 2014 the SME Instrument has invested more than € 790 million in over 2000 companies from 36 countries. The programme has attracted more than 20.000 applications and almost 9 out of 10 candidates applied for EU-funding for the first time. This popularity among complete newcomers to EU-funding shows that the programme fulfils a need to support innovation in small companies.
Competition is tough as the success rate is 8% for Phase 1 and 6% for Phase 2. But once they get there, businesses can receive from € 50.000 up to € 2.5 million to finance 70% of their project. In addition, every euro invested is smart money – funded companies get 3 days of business innovation coaching under Phase 1 and 12 days under Phase 2.
So who are these companies that constitute the elite of small business innovation in Europe? Almost a third of the selected companies are start-ups, meaning that they are younger than 3 years. Manufacturing is the most common activity for the businesses and the ICT sector counts the biggest number of applicants and selected companies. 11% of the companies are backed by accelerators and 12% are spin-offs by academia. Spain and Italy count the most selected projects.
What about the results? A first sketch shows that selected companies have attracted 3 times more private investment than before participating to the programme. They have gathered a total of € 692 million in private equity and report benefitting from faster access to markets.