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    Innovation in SMEs

    Exiting the economic crisis and achieving the employment and growth targets of the Europe 2020 strategy requires a competitive industry that builds its competitiveness on innovation in all its forms: development and application of technologies at the technology frontier, new business and organisational models reaching out new geographic markets. The innovation capacity of industry depends not only on large enterprises with market power but crucially on ambitious entrepreneurs and small enterprises aiming for radical innovations and fast growth.


    Horizon 2020 and the Competiveness and SME programme (COSME) will be the major instruments to provide direct support and a favourable environment for growth of SMEs. The domains of major activities of the COSME programme are: providing access to financing for growth oriented companies that do not fall under the focus of Horizon 2020, developing better framework conditions for SME growth in the context of industrial change in particular through clusters and in sector of strategic interest, and supporting the internationalisation of business activities of SMEs.


    Horizon 2020 ‘Innovation in SMEs’ is a bridge between the core of the framework programme, the provision of support to research, development and innovation projects, and the creation of a favourable ecosystem for SME innovation and growth. ‘Innovation in SMEs’ therefore includes the SME instrument, for which budget is allocated in the Societal Challenges and Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies, the support to the EUREKA/Eurostars initiative that provides funding for transnational collaborative projects of research-intensive SMEs and various actions that aim at developing and providing better innovation support services to SMEs.


    ‘Innovation in SME’ is a forward looking complement to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). ESIF can help deploying innovative solutions for a better SME support emanating from Horizon 2020 in the regions. Article 20 of the Horizon 2020 Regulation and Article 37 of the Rules for Participation encourage synergies between Horizon 2020 and other European Union funds, such as European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). Synergies do not mean to replace national or private funding by ESIF or to combine them for the same cost item in a project. Synergies mean to expand the scope and impact of both funds in terms of scientific excellence and place-based socio-economic development respectively. Applicants are therefore invited to explore potentials for synergies with the relevant Managing Authorities in charge of the ESIF programmes in their territory1


    The SME instrument addresses the financing needs of internationally oriented SMEs, in implementing high-risk and high-potential innovation ideas. It aims at supporting projects with a European dimension that lead to radical changes in how business (product, processes, services, marketing etc.) is done. It will launch the company into new markets, promote growth, and create high return on investment. The SME instrument addresses all types of innovative SMEs so as to be able to promote growth champions in all sectors.

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