Innovation Skåne

Blog @ innovation skåne


Horizon 2020; an overview for entrepreneurs

Last week Håkan Sehlin from Invest in Skåne visited our business advisory team to talk about the Horizon 2020 program, SME instrument, Fast-Track-to-Innovation and Eurostars. In this blogpost, we have summarized the information for You to give a brief guide on what support the EU can provide.

So, why should you apply? Financial support and guidance is a big part of these programmes, but as a high-risk start-up it is a great opportunity to be able to share the risk with a strong partner like the European Union. These programmes can also open up many possibilities for an international network.

SME instrument

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are enterprises which employ fewer than 250 employees and have an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million. If you have a company fulfilling these criteria, it is definitely worth scanning through this blogpost.

The SME instrument provides a chance for entrepreneurs in Europe to request funding for breakthrough ideas with the potential to create new markets or revolutionize existing ones.

Phase 1: feasibility assessment

Who can apply?
High-risk, high-potential SMEs developing and commercializing new products, services and business models that can drive economic growth
Start-ups can also apply if they comply with the EU SME definition and are able to contribute 30% of the budget for the execution of the SME instrument action
There are no criteria regarding profitability, but the SME should have a sufficient technological readiness level which usually requires the SME to have a prototype.

Activities funded: Include risk assessment, design or market studies, intellectual property exploration.
Funding: lump sum of €50,000 per project.
Duration: approx. 6 months.
Outcome: a feasibility study and a business plan.
Last application date: 5 September 2019. (Phase 1 application is not going to be offered anymore after this date.)

Phase 2: innovative project

Who can apply?
Innovation project underpinned by a sound and strategic business plan.

Activities funded: include prototyping, miniaturisation, scaling-up, design, performance verification, testing, demonstration, development of pilot lines, validation for market replication.
Funding: from 5 June 2019 blended financial support combining grants and equity. The amount of funding is in the indicative range of €500,000 – € 2.5 million or more (covering up to 70% of eligible costs).
Duration: 1-2 years.
Outcomes: greatly innovative product, service or process ready to conquer the market or a business innovation plan including detailed commercialization strategy and a financing plan in view of market launch. The best candidates are invited to pitch their project in Brussels.
Application dates: 5 June, 9 October 2019

Phase 3: business acceleration

There is no financial support involved, but it is a great opportunity for companies coming from phase 1 and phase 2 to receive extra coaching provided by experienced business coaches.


FTI aims to reduce the time from idea to market and to increase the participation in Horizon 2020 of industry, SMEs and first-time industry applicants. FTI is open to all types of participants.

Who can apply?
Proposals for funding must be submitted by consortia comprising between three and five legal entities established in at least three different EU Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020.
Application dates: 23 May, 22 October 2019
Funding: maximum €3M per proposal
Duration: around 6 months


Eurostars is designed to support the development of rapidly marketable innovative products, processes and services that help improve the daily lives of people around the world and with a special focus to the needs of SMEs. It is an ideal first step in international cooperation, enabling small businesses to combine and share expertise and benefit from working beyond national borders.

A typical Eurostars project has 3-4 participants from 2-3 Eurostars countries which also include countries outside the EU (for example Canada, South Korea, South Africa). The average duration of a project is 29 months and the average cost is around 1.4 million euros. The funding covers up to 50% of the project costs.

We are here to guide You!

The application procedure tends to be complicated for all these programmes.
Our business advisors are here to help you. Do not hesitate to contact us, if you need guidance!
Invest in Skåne is a part of the Enterprise Europe Network and can help you find international partners. They also organize workshops and provide other help about EU financial support.
EUSME Support 2020 can also help you with EU financial support questions. The provide free-of-charge support service for SMEs with long experience in participating in EU programmes. It is easy to contact them through helpdesk and they answer within 48 hours.

Helpful links

More information on the Commission’s website:

Invest in Skåne

EUSME Support 2020


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