European Liaison Office of the German Research Organisations

SMEs in Horizon 2020

Small and medium sized enterprises (SME) are enterprises, which employ less than 250 people and which do not make an annual turnover of more than EUR 50 million or which have an annual balance of less than EUR 43 million.

Drivers of economy

SME play a central role for the economic growth and the creation of jobs. They generate approx. 58% of the combined turnover of the EU and are responsible for more than 80% of all newly created jobs.

Partners of universities and research institutions

SME have become important partners for both universities and research institutions when it comes to achieving goals in research and innovation projects. They take over research work, make sure that results are application-related and transferred to the public and contribute entrepreneurial knowledge to projects. In order to further develop Europe's innovation performance, the European Commission lays a special focus on the participation of SME in Horizon 2020.

SME focus in Horizon 2020

The Communication of the European Commission on the Innovation Union contains the request for SME to gain simplified access to the Framework Programme, the increase of the participation rate and better access to funding schemes. Horizon 2020 therefore follows an "integrated approach":

SME may participate and be funded – just as in FP7 – in the scope of top-down calls for proposals in collaborative research (Leading and Enabling Technologies and Societal Challenges as well as Future and Emerging Technologies) as coordinators or partners in consortia. In many calls the participation of SME is mandatory for the submission of a proposal. The newly developed SME Instrument does above all else solely address SME. Other private or public organizations may still function as subcontractors in these projects.

The EU has defined the goal, that 20% of the total budget for the parts "Societal Challenges" and "Leading and Enabling Technologies" – almost EUR 8.5 million – has to be awarded to SME. Additionally, SME may also participate in other parts of Horizon 2020, e.g. the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions. The simplification of rules and processes, which was foreseen for Horizon 2020 together with the strong focus on innovation, shall further enhance the participation of SME.

Further funding possibilities for SME in Horizon 2020 are available at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. The financial instruments shall also especially meet the demands of SME.