The European Commission, every seven years, launches a series of innovative programmes with the aim of helping European countries to increase their economic, financial and technological competitiveness.
The current biggest EU Research and Innovation programme is Horizon 2020, which covers a 7-years period (2014 to 2020).
HORIZON 2020: DEFINITION AND OBJECTIVES
Horizon 2020, as stated before, is a financial instrument aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness in research and innovation.
The European Commission defines it as “a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 has the political backing of Europe’s leaders and the Members of the European Parliament. They agreed that research is an investment in our future and so put it at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs”.
By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this ambitious aim with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.
SME INSTRUMENT: ONE OF THE HORIZON 2020 FUNDING SCHEMES
This funding scheme is addressed to highly innovative SMEs with the ambition to develop their growth potential in a European and global market. It offers lump sums for feasibility studies, grants for disruptive business projects (demonstration, prototyping, testing, scaling up, launch to the market…); lastly, the commercialisation phase is supported indirectly through facilitated access to debt and equity financial instruments.
Only SMEs can participate to the SME Instrument.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Every call for proposal has a specific path to be followed in order to submit the application and try to be funded by the European Commission:
HORIZON 2020: MID-TERM EVALUATION
The entire programme is constantly monitored and evaluated by the European Commission, which prepares an official document, containing all the main results, twice during the whole duration. The first mid-term evaluation paper has been published in 2017 referring to the 2014-2016 period. The second and last one will be published at the end of 2020 before the launch of the new programme Horizon Europe.
The Commission follows specific criteria in analysing the success of a programme: