What Information Is Needed to Write A Proposal?

Before we begin our first video call, irrespective of a contract being signed or not, both parties will sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) – (details via Email).

During our first video call (2 to 2.5h) we will discuss the main points of the project and we will cover everything from the innovation, market, customers, EU challenges, financial projections, Business Model etc.

Other than the information discussed, we will also need the following:

  • Any visual material or documents that are relevant to the project or the company (pictures, links to videos, website, list of past clients, publications, awards, magazine features)
  • Full CVs and pictures of the 3 project leaders and the founders of the company
  • Letters of Support (LOS) by interested customers, influential supporters, suppliers, institutions, regulatory agencies, etc. – Templates will be provided

How To Improve Your Chances of Getting Funded

To find out if your project is suitable for funding, please read What Types of Industries Receive Funding?.

Three of the four evaluators that will review the proposal have a business background and only one will have a technical or scientific background. While it is impossible to know what the specific evaluators will focus on and look for, there are some general things that make the project look more suitable for investments:

  • You have financial backing other than the SME Instrument (Own revenues, parent company, private investors)
  • You have been acknowledged for your innovation (prices, funds, awards, features on blogs, TV or magazines)
  • You address a promising market segment (market growth, market size, small competition)
  • You have Letters of Recommendation from key partners and stakeholders (regulatory agencies, decision makers, relevant authorities, thought leaders)
  • You have Letters of Intent from Suppliers, Customers or Distributors
  • You have a highly experienced and capable team (work experience, relevant projects, education, extensive support network)
  • Your project brings not only financial but also social benefits to the EU
  • Your project has more potential than just the Phase 2 developments and can be expanded further within the next decade

It is not necessary to fill all the boxes but we should be able to address as many points as possible.

Can My Company Receive Funding from the EU?

To see if the project is eligible for funding in one of the 13 topics, please read What Types of Industries Receive Funding?.

More information and FAQs by the European Commission can be found here.

Your company can apply with a project proposal if:

  • It registered in an EU-28 country such as
    • Austria, Italy, Belgium, Latvia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Croatia, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland,  Estonia, Portugal, Finland, Romania, France, Slovakia, Germany, Slovenia,  Greece, Spain, Hungary, Sweden,  Ireland, United Kingdom.
  • or in one of the associated countries such as
    • Iceland, Norway, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovinathe former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,  Montenegro,  Serbia, Turkey,  Israel, Moldova,  Switzerland, Faroe IslandsUkraine, Tunisia, Georgia, Armenia.
  • It is an SME defined as a < 250 headcount, < €50 million turn-over and < €43 million balance sheet.
  • You have three task leaders for the technical, commercial and financial aspects of the project
  • Your technology is at the Technology Readiness Level 6 which means that it has been tested in the relevant environment and has proven its efficacy

To find out how to increase your chances for funding, please read How To Improve Your Chances of Getting Funded.


What Types of Industries Receive Funding?

The detailed topic descriptions can be found here. When you are unsure if a specific topic applies to your project, please read the detailed description carefully. To gain an overview of the topics, continue reading.

To find out if your company can receive funding by the EU, please read Can My Company Receive Funding from the EU?

For general rules on how to increase the chances of your project, please read How To Improve Your Chances of Getting Funded.

The Specific Topics

The Horizon 2020s SME Instrument funds a great variety of industries and has established 13 topics, namely:

01: Open Disruptive Innovation Scheme 

“Focus will be on companies proposing disruptive [Information and Communications Technology (ICT)] concepts, products and services applying new sets of rules, values and models which ultimately create new markets (e.g. by tackling non-consumption) or disrupt existing markets.”

02: Accelerating the uptake of nanotechnologies advanced materials or advanced manufacturing and processing technologies by SMEs 

“The goal is to create added value by creatively combining existing research results with other necessary elements, to transfer results across sectors where applicable, to accelerate innovation and eventually create profit or other benefits.”

03: Dedicated support to biotechnology SMEs closing the gap from lab to market

“SMEs working in the field of industrial biotechnology and ideas/concepts involving the use of systems and/or synthetic biology are particularly invited to apply for funding.”

04: Engaging SMEs in space research and development

“It is considered that actions in the areas of applications, especially in connection to the flagship programmes Galileo and Copernicus, spinning-in (i.e. application of terrestrial solutions to challenges in space) and the development of certain critical technologies could be adequately suited for this call.”

05: Supporting innovative SMEs in the healthcare biotechnology sector

a) Clinical research for the validation of biomarkers and/or diagnostic medical devices

b) Cell technologies in medical applications

06: Accelerating market introduction of ICT solutions for Health, Well-Being and Ageing Well

“The challenge is to help overcome the current gaps in exploitation of promising research results in ICT for Health, Well-being and Ageing well and to stimulate
increased availability and market uptake of relevant ICT products and services”

07: Stimulating the innovation potential of SMEs for sustainable and competitive agriculture, forestry, agri-food and bio-based sectors

“SMEs can play a crucial role in developing resource-efficient and costeffective solutions to secure sufficient supplies of safe, healthy and high quality food and other bio-based products, by developing productive, sustainable and resource-efficient primary production systems, fostering related ecosystem services and the recovery of biological diversity, alongside competitive and low-carbon supply, processing and marketing chains. “

08: Supporting SMEs efforts for the development – deployment and market replication of innovative solutions for blue growth

“SMEs contribution to the development of the ‘Blue Growth Strategy’ (COM (2012) 494) can be significant in particular in the fields of marine biotechnology, fisheries, marine and fresh water aquaculture (including production and processing of feed and food), marine litter prevention. “

09: Stimulating the innovation potential of SMEs for a low carbon and efficient energy system

  • Reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint by smart and sustainable use,
  • Low-cost, low-carbon electricity supply (including renewable energy as well as carbon capture and storage and re-use),
  • Alternative fuels and mobile energy sources,
  • A single, smart European electricity grid,
  • New knowledge and technologies, and Robust decision making and public engagement

10: Small business innovation research for Transport and Smart Cities Mobility

“SMEs are pivotal for delivering the innovations needed for greater sustainable and smarter mobility, better accessibility and logistics serving business and citizens, and thus higher economic growth, in a context where the majority of population lives in urban and urbanised areas.”

11: Boosting the potential of small businesses in the areas of climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials

“This topic is targeted at all types of eco-innovative8 SMEs in all areas addressing the climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials challenge – including but not restricted to the 2016-2017 strategic priorities of systemic eco-innovation and circular economy, nature-based solutions, climate services, sustainable supply of raw materials, harnessing GEOSS Earth observation data, cultural heritage for sustainable growth, and water – focusing on SMEs showing a strong ambition to develop, grow and internationalise. “

12: New business models for inclusive, innovative and reflective societies

“A change of paradigm from ownership to access, from individual consumption to shared
functionalities can be applied in several sectors benefiting from digital technologies and
ensuring more sustainable lifestyles to EU citizens particularly in cities.”

13: Engaging SMEs in security research and development

“The actions under this topic should cover any aspect of the Specific Programme for “secure societies – protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens””



General information on the success rates for the specific topics can be found in The Success Rate For Receiving Government Funding.

My Proposal Has a High Score But Was Rejected, What Now?

The Score

All proposals above a threshold of 13 receive the “Seal of Excellence” and are eligible for funding. Unfortunately, the budget of the SME Topics is limited and the higher the number of applicants, the lower the chances to receive funding.

Usually, proposals will get funded starting at a score of 13.5 – 14. Once your proposal has been evaluated (1-2 months after the submission deadline), you will receive:

The Evaluation Report

An evaluation report: This contained the mean evaluations of 4 different evaluators regarding all aspects of the proposal and grading “Impact”, “Excellence” and “Quality” as

Very Good to Excellent (4.5 – 5)
Good to Very Good (3.5 – 4.49)
Fair to Good (2.5 – 3.49)
Insufficient to Fair (1.5 – 2.49)
Insufficient (0-1.49)

The maximum score would be 3 x 5 = 15.

The Good News

    • You can resubmit the proposal indefinitely and improve it with every submission.
  • Depending on the country you live in, you can use your “Seal of Excellence” and directly receive national funding (please read the conditions and deadlines carefully – calls might be closed or getting reinstated soon). This is currently possible in Sweden (VINNOVA), Cyprus (Research Promotion Foundation), Czech Republic (Technology agency), France (French Association of Innovative Clusters), Norway and Slovenia.

Professional Grant Proposal Writing for the EIC Accelerator and Horizon Europe Programs (SME Instrument)