News Column

SME Instrument: EU funding available for Maltese being missed out on

July 12, 2014

SME Instrument

The European Agency for Small and Medium Sized (EASME) has reopened a call under the SME Instrument that forms part of the Horizon 2020 programme that finances innovative ideas and assists in their commercialisation. The original SME instrument cut-off date was the 18th of June, and 2,666 proposals have been submitted, however only two of these are from Malta. The SME Instrument is a unique financing opportunity that Innovative Maltese SMEs should take advantage of.


The open disruptive innovation scheme attracted the most proposals (885), followed by low carbon energy systems (372), nanotechnologies (305) and eco-innovation/raw materials (241). The general expected success rate for applications in this cut-off date is of 6.2%. Italy led the number of applications (436), with Spain as a close second (420), followed by the United Kingdom (232), Germany (188), France (167) and Hungary (166). 

The majority of SMEs applied individually, and most consortia were of two SMEs. The EASME plans to have evaluated the proposals by the end of July. After our first exciting results, we are looking forward to working together with SMEs to promote disruptive innovation in Europe. 

What is the SME Instrument? 

As part of the Horizon 2020 programme, the European Commission is hand-picking potentially disruptive businesses to invest and support as part of the SME Instrument. Your business could receive up to €3m in funding and world-class business support and mentorship.

Who should apply?

The EASME are looking for high growth, highly innovative SMEs with global ambitions that want to disrupt the established value networks and existing markets. Applicants should be driven, actively investing in innovation and looking to grow. They should have been established for a while and not at a start-up stage. EASME explain that it is a good sign if the company is based in an innovation hub, has received grants or venture capital funding, received innovation-related tax benefits or won an innovation prize in the last two years.


The instrument will take place in three phases, with the aim of transforming disruptive ideas into concrete, innovative solutions with a European and global impact. 

SMEs are recommended to apply for Phase 1, but may also apply for subsequent phases depending on the progress of their proposals:

Phase 1: Concept & Feasibility Assessment 

Idea to concept (6 months)

The European Union will provide €50,000 in funding and carry out a feasibility study to verify the viability of the proposed disruptive innovation or concept. 

The SME will draft an initial business proposal (around 10 pages). 

Phase 2: Demonstration, Market Replication, R&D 

Concept to Market-Maturity (1-2 years) 

Assisted by the EU, the SME will further develop its proposal through innovation activities, such as demonstration, testing, piloting, scaling up, and miniaturisation. It will also draft a more developed business plan (around 30 pages). Proposals will be based on a business plan developed on Phase 1 or otherwise. The EU aims to contribute between €0.5m and €2.5m.

Phase 3: Commercialisation 

Prepare for market launch

SMEs will receive extensive support, training, mentorship and facilitating access to risk finance as the project is further polished into a marketable product. 

Additional support and networking opportunities will be provided by Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). 

The EU will not provide additional direct funding in this phase.


In 2014 and 2015 the SME Instrument will sponsor SMEs operating within 13 themes:


High risk ICT innovation


Nanotech, or other advanced tech for manufacturing and materials


Space research and development


Clinical research for the validation of diagnostics devices and biomarkers


Sustainable food production and processing


Blue growth


Low carbon energy systems


Greener and more integrated transport


Eco-innovation and sustainable raw material supply


Urban critical infrastructure


Biotechnology-based industrial processes


Mobile e-government applications (2015 only)


SME business model innovation (2015 only)

Source: The European Agency for Small and Medium Sized Enterprise as a source of information. For more information on the EU Instrument visit 


Mr Sant is lecturer with the University College and has specialised on European Union Affairs with one of the commercial banks. 


For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: Malta Independent, The

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