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  • Patricia Esteban


Updated: Jun 6, 2022

In this article, we will summarize some of the key information about EU funding for all kinds of SMEs, including start-ups, scale-ups, and traditional Small and Medium-Sized Companies.

There are many opportunities to receive European Funding for SMEs. The European Commission will consider various factors when evaluating the potential of your business and the viability of your business plan. Notably, it will consider the degree of innovation in your products and the role of R&D at your company. Additionally, criteria such as industry, technology readiness level, geography, the amount of investment sought, and time to market, will impact funding decisions.

European Innovation Council

The European Innovation Council (EIC) aims to promote breakthrough innovation with scale-up potential at a global level. It focuses mainly on deeptech and disruptive innovations, with a preference for products and solutions that have the potential to create entirely new markets. This grant is an open call, with a bottom-up approach taking applications from any field of science or technology. It has a total budget of 1.69 billion euros for the work program in 2022 to be distributed across 3 instruments:

Click on the title to be redirected for further information.

Pathfinder is all about visionary thinking. As it supports the quest for bold ideas for radically new technologies. It welcomes high-risk / reward and interdisciplinary cutting-edge scientific collaboration to support technological progress.

This program usually involves a consortium of researchers and other partners from at least three different countries, but there is also an opportunity for a small consortium.

Grants reach up to 3 to 4 million euros per project to support early-stage development. The 2022 budget for EIC Pathfinder is roughly 350 million euros.

Transition funds innovation activities that go beyond experimental proof of concept in order to support the maturation and validation of your technology. Funding supports downstream testing in the lab and in relevant application environments. These results will then be used to validate a business case and business model with the goal of future commercialization.

Grants for these projects are around 2.5 million euros and the program has a total budget of 131 million euros.

The EIC Accelerator supports start-ups and SMEs in order to develop and scale up game-changing innovations. Funded companies have disruptive technologies that are usually high risk with a high potential to create new markets.

The EIC Accelerator offers up to 2.5 million euros for development costs from prototype to the pre-commercialization stage and up to 15 million euros for direct equity investment by the EIC Fund for scale up (internationalization, expansion, and rapid growth) costs. Having a total budget of 1.1 billion euros.

European Institutes of Innovation & Technology

European Institutes of Innovation and Technology (EIT), is an EU body created by the European Union in 2008 to strengthen Europe's ability to innovate. The EIT is an integral part of Horizon Europe.

The Institute is a distinct EU initiative that drives innovation across Europe by bringing together organizations from business, education, and research. The EIT provides funding for cooperative efforts to find innovative solutions to pressing global challenges.

There are 8 different Innovation Communities and in this interactive map, you can discover all of them.

International Cooperation Programmes for SMEs

Eurostars is the largest international funding program for SMEs wishing to collaborate on R&D projects that create innovative products, processes, or services for commercialization. Your consortium must contain one innovative SME to serve as the main project participant.


The European Innovation Vouchers are cooperation programs, co-funded by the European Union. The European Commission strives to reduce disparities in the levels of development, growth, and quality of life in and across Europe’s regions and technologies. These initiatives are a non-dilutive grant that varies from 20k€ to 200k€ for single applicants as well as for small consortiums between SMEs.

Here are some examples,

Consortia Development for SMEs

Consortia development for SMEs can be found in Pillar II, representing the Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness and Innovative Europe.

This pillar supports research relating to societal challenges and reinforces technological and industrial capacities through thematic clusters.

It sets ambitious goals for EU missions. It also includes the Joint Research Centre which supports EU and national policymakers with independent scientific evidence and technical support.

Click the image and each cluster for more detailed information

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