The European Commission recently published a list of 277 small and medium sized companies (SMEs) that will get funding to help get promising commercial ideas up and running. Companies are from Spain, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands and France did well, but the success rate is low overallit plans to back with up to €117 million in cash.
Of these, 199 SMEs will receive €50,000 each to finance feasibility studies for ideas still in their infancy, in phase I funding, while 78 SMEs with more developed or phase II business ideas, will receive up to €2.5 million to flesh them out.
Spanish companies figure prominently in both winners’ lists, with 83 companies in total earmarked for EU money. Italian SMEs are a close second with 61 winners.
The companies will receive the investment from the EU’s SME Instrument kitty, a scheme to help ideas with high commercial potential to the market.
Phase I winners
Spanish SMEs continued their fine form in the SME Instrument, which has been running competitions since last year, clocking in 71 winners in this category, followed by firms from Italy (58) and the UK (46).
Alongside a cheque for €50,000, winning SMEs can apply for up to three days of business coaching.
Phase II winners
Spanish SMEs also fared the best in the phase II competition, with 12 winners. Next in the pecking order were the UK and the Netherlands, with 10 winners each, and France with nine.
The SMEs from 18 countries will each receive up to €2.5 million, or €5 million in the case of health projects, to develop a business plan. Companies will also be entitled to benefit from up to 12 days of business coaching.
Proposals and success rates
As with other competitions in Horizon 2020, the EU’s €80 billion research programme which runs the SME Instrument, the latest round of grants was heavily oversubscribed, meaning success rates continue to be low.
For the phase I competition, the Commission received 1,944 proposals. Evaluators deemed 237, or 12 per cent of proposals met the evaluation standard, which was then whittled down to the final successful 199.
The Commission received 580 project proposals for phase II funding. In total, 132 made it to the longlist of finalists – 17 per cent – which was then reduced to the final successful 78 winners.
SME Instrument: what is it?
The SME instrument is a grant programme that will run until 2020 with a war chest of about €2.8 billion to fund 650 SMEs a year. According to Commission estimates, funding will benefit more than 1,300 projects in 2014 and 2015.
Funding is divided into three phases covering the initial technical feasibility of a project through to demonstration and eventual commercialisation. SMEs are allowed to apply for whichever phase reflects the stage of their project.