As the Italian Delegate on the Program Committee for SMEs and Access to Risk Finance, I have been looking quite closely the early results of one of the newest instruments introduced by the EU Commission in Horizon 2020. This is the SME Innovation Instrument.
What is the SME Innovation Instrument?
Horizon 2020 funds high-potential innovation through a dedicated SME instrument, which offers seamless business innovation support under the section Societal Challenges and the specific part Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEITs).
Provided with about € 3 billion in funding over the period 2014-2020, the SME Instrument helps high-potential SMEs to develop groundbreaking innovative ideas for products, services or processes that are ready to face global market competition. Available to SMEs only, which can however organise a project in the way that best fits their business needs – meaning that subcontracting is not excluded – the new scheme has opened a new highway to innovation through phased, progressive and complimentary support.
In June we received from the Commission data of participation of SMEs across Europe, and the numbers were very interesting. out of 2666 projects, 16% were coming from Italian companies. By far Italian companies (as well as Spanish) were the most represented in this first batch.
I provided an analysis of this data on Nòva. You can find the article in Italian here. My main point is to bring forward two questions: 1. What obviously we need to understand is how many Italian projects will be considered eligible for funding, so to have a better picture of quality of these proposals.
2. What will happen to good projects that however will not receive EU funding? The idea is that these projects should be considered for regional and national innovation policies.