What does your company need to stand out in H2020 SME instrument?

For an innovative small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in life science, medical/health technology or drug development, Horizon2020 SME instrument (SMEi) is THE funding opportunity you need to have. It is by far the largest EU subsidy scheme available for a single company (up to €2.5 million for two years).

It is easily implemented in your company’s financial plan and value chain (all existing collaborators are financed as subcontractors), the administrative process is extremely short (outcome available within two months and money on the bank account within four months after application) and you get not just one, but four shots a year to submit your application. Too good to be true, now what is the problem? Obviously, everyone wants to have it, so everyone applies, making the programme highly competitive. What is it that your company needs to stand out from the long list of hungry European SMEs fighting for the trophy?

Stand out in SME instrument

1. Top-class market-creating innovation

Do you have something that no one else has, that is better than any available alternative in terms of performance, costs or ease of use? Are you addressing a commercial/business need with your innovation and see a novel market opportunity? A small molecule or a biological drug, an ICT health solution or a medical food, a medical device or an in vitro diagnostic kit/service, that answers an unmet medical need of patients and medical professionals, would probably represent an SMEi-worth innovation. Define unique, beyond the state-of-the-art features of your technology, understand who and why people would buy your product and how much would they be willing to pay. Your solution should be a ´must-have´, rather than ´nice-to-have´.

2. Strong business plan and business model

Even with the most disruptive innovation, it is the business case rather than the technology that is the primary success element of SMEi projects. Life-science applications are evaluated by the panel of reviewers with commercial background (entrepreneurs, investors, executives) who primarily assess the commercial feasibility of your innovation. Having an investor-proof detailed business plan, including market evaluations and financial predictions/sales forecasts, is a great asset in writing a successful SMEi application.

3. Company with a high-growth potential and ambition to address global markets

It is the company, rather than the project that is the focus of the SMEi application. Know how €2.5 million funding will boost the growth of your company and how will the financial injection fit within your general financial plan to bring your technology to market. There is a good chance that innovations in life science/medical technologies have a potential to address international, EU-wide or even global markets, so this one is easy to meet. You need to have a strong plan on how to upscale your production or distribution process to enter the high-volume international markets.

4. Developed technology with a solid proof-of-concept or prototype

With pharmaceutical innovations, pre-clinical efficacy of your compound should have been established by now, so that you can use the SMEi to fund GLP efficacy/safety pre-clinical studies or early-to-late clinical validations. For medical devices/diagnostics, functioning prototypes with pre-clinical/ technical data should be available, using the SMEi for design validation/verification and clinical validation of the product. In general, activities bringing the innovation to market readiness are foreseen for the SMEi projects, including miniaturisation, scaling-up, testing, demonstration, regulatory/IP developments, reimbursement strategies, HTA, dissemination activities etc.

5. Credible financial plan and a track record in attracting investments

SMEi is designed to help companies to bridge a “valley of death’, the gap between early technological developments and clinical validations/market entry. The valley is especially broad in life science R&D: the initial seed funding or investments have been burned by now and a new financial injection is required to achieve the next milestone that would attract the follow-up investments. Highlight your track record in attracting investments or non-dilutive funding and show there is an interest from future investors. Understand, how SMEi funding will be integrated in your company’s financial model.

Request support

Catalyze has a long track record in preparing successful SME Instrument applications and can help your company to boost any of the above success elements, be it an investor-proof business plan, financial model, positioning of the innovation, market opportunity, budget or commercialisation strategy. We understand your innovation and business case, and will take the entire application process out of your hands. Contact us to find out what we can do for you.


A must-have if you’re interested in getting your business to the next level