Q: How do I determine whether I am an SME or not?

According to the regulation of the European Commission, there are three crucial requirements company must meet being considered a Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs):

Micro Company:

  • Staff headcount < 10
  • Turnover or Balance sheet total < € 2m

Small Company:

  • Staff headcount < 50
  • Turnover or Balance sheet total < € 10m

Medium-sized Company:

  • Staff headcount < 250
  • Turnover or Balance sheet total < € 50m


Q: What are Technology readiness levels (TRL) used for

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale is used to indicate the maturity of a technology. The main purpose is to use a clear system that can serve as an indicator to better position the projects in the program in terms of stage of development. And to help applicants and reviewers to align with the EC’s expectations and requirements regarding particular context. For each type of technology, the definition of TRL can be specified exactly to that type of development path.


Q: What is the funding rate?

The funding rate describes the part of the total budget that is funded by the subsidy. If this is 100%, this means the total project (up to the maximum grant amount) will be covered by the funding provider. If this is less than 100%, this means that the applicant and the consortium should co-finance the remaining percentage of the project budget from their own resources.


Q: What are the common types of actions within the societal challenges of the Horizon program?

Research & Innovation actions (RIA) – projects which are carried out by international consortia, whose purpose is to create and develop new knowledge, technology, products and prototype validation on a small-scale laboratory.

Innovation Actions (IA) – Innovative projects consisting of activities focused directly on plans for production and/or design of new, changed or improved products, processes or services. Projects may include prototyping, testing, large-scale product demonstration or pilot before it is commercially available.

Coordination and Support Actions (CSA) – The purpose of these actions is to promote cooperation and coordinate research activities, innovative or political; they include defining, organizing and managing joint initiatives and activities such as conferences, meetings, studies, exchange of personnel, dissemination of good practices, creation of common systems information and expert groups.


Q: What are the funding options in the EIC Accelerator?

The EIC Accelerator provides the applicant with an option for either a grant or blended finance (a grant combined with equity-based financing). The amount of funding significantly differs per option: the grant (€2.5M) and for the equity blended finance (€2.5M (grant) and €15M (equity)).


Q: What is the target audience for the EIC Accelerator Program?

The EIC Accelerator aims to support very innovative projects and technology riddled with high-risk run by SMEs seeking funding to develop and commercialize outstanding and ground-breaking ideas that may have a significant impact on market in Europe and worldwide.


Q: What is Eurostars?

Eurostars is a joint programme with the primary mission of supporting R&D activities performed in international collaboration, with a focus on R&D performing SMEs. The funding of the program comes from the national budgets of 36 Eurostars countries and by the European Union through Horizon 2020.


Q: What is an R&D-performing SME according to Eurostars?

To be considered an R&D-performing SME, a company must be determined as an SME and must meet certain requirements in terms of dedicated R&D FTEs or turnover.

SMEs with less than 100 FTE: at least 5.0 FTEs or at least 10.00% of their FTE, or at least 10.00% of their turnover dedicated to R&D activities.

SMEs with more than 100 FTE: at least 10.0 FTEs or at least 10.00% of their FTE, or at least 10.00% of their turnover dedicated to R&D activities.


Q: What is the Innovation Fund for?

As of 2020, the European Commission launched the Innovation Fund program which aims to demonstrate innovative low-carbon technologies. The principle is to support highly innovative technologies which will have a significant impact on emission reductions. It will fund projects from the pilot stage through demonstration towards scale up stage. The Innovation Fund focuses on:

  • Innovative low-carbon technologies and processes in energy intensive industries, including products substituting carbon intensive ones
  • Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU)
  • Construction and operation of carbon capture and storage (CCS)
  • Innovative renewable energy generation
  • Energy storage


Q: How to apply for the Innovation Fund?

Only large-scale projects with a total capital expenditure (CAPEX) above EUR 7,500,000 with the funding rate up to 60% will be eligible for the first call. We expect other calls that will fund project with lower CAPEX to be funded as well.

The application process has two stages: expression of interest and full application. At the first stage, the crucial aspects that need to be taken into consideration are greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions avoidance, degree of innovation, and project maturity. At the second stage, two additional criteria, scalability and cost efficiency, are taken into consideration.