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European funding

New European R&D Grants for SMEs

The European Commission today launched two new generous grant programmes aimed at SME businesses –SME Instrument and Fast Track to Innovation. With a budget of over €2 Billion to spend from 2018 to 2020, this bold new initiative aims to support leading innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and scientists with bright ideas to scale internationally.

Both new grant schemes are aimed at funding projects beyond the early experimental stages. Indeed projects are expected to have already validated their technology with a few pilot customers or end users (often called ‘Beta trials’ in software developments) before applying. This funding pays for further product refinement as well as scaling up, performance verification, building pilot lines, testing, trialling, customer or market demonstrations – whatever is needed to bring the new solution to market maturity.

SME Instrument is specifically targeted at European small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Generous funding of up to €2.5 Million is offered towards 70% of the costs of an innovation project. Single company applicants or SME consortia may apply. A two-phase application approach is offered with Phase 1 giving a fixed €50k grant towards 70% of the costs of a quick 6-month preparatory, feasibility study that really helps pull together a business case for a Phase 2 application.

Fast Track to Innovation also targets European SMEs but allows consortia of between 3 and 5 partners including academics and bigger businesses to apply for a project led by the SME. Up to €3 Million grant funding is available to the project with not-for-profit partners benefiting at 100% contribution and commercial for-profit partners getting 70% funding. Industrial partners need to account for a minimum of 60% of project costs for an eligible project. This approach often works better for those projects that prefer to adopt an Open Innovation approach to bringing their solution to market.

Applications to both funding streams open on 7th November 2017 and are very likely to be oversubscribed. Grants will be awarded on a competition basis with only the very best proposals winning funding. You will need a very well researched, evidenced and structured business case to succeed!

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