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Is Horizon 2020 right for me?


  • You are a SMEclick for description, under the European Commission definition.
  • You have a long term development strategy for your technology and your business.
  • The scale of funds required for your R&D exceed what you can raise from most national or commercial sources without surrendering real ownership of your business.
  • Your project will leave a legacy; a growing business, increasing employment and protected IP etc.
  • You’re prepared to make public non-sensitive project information and engage in broad communication about its aims, successes and outcomes.
  • You’re prepared to manage and monitor your project in ways that can be scrutinised by independent assessors.

If in addition…

  • You want to grow your business in international markets and European markets are an important part of this.
  • You are prepared to collaborate as part of a team where to achieve your R&D goals and accept supporting the goals of others too.
  • You are prepared to work with colleagues from other countries to develop a bid, the work is significant because of the scale of the funding (although likely to be far less than is required to raise VC).
  • You are happy to operate across Europe and to join meetings in other European countries during the project.
  • You are prepared to share a substantial budget with partners and report expenditure to the Commission on a regular basis.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the SME Instrument versus ‘Collaborative’ funding?

SME Instrument Phase 1&2 Strengths:

  • Easy entry via phase 1, with a simplified 10 page application for €50K
  • Phase 2 offers a single SME up to €2.5m per project
  • Post project the Commission offers assistance with further fund raising
  • No need to find partners or collaborators
  • The project can be conducted entirely in one member state

SME Instrument Phase 1&2 Weaknesses:

  • VERY competitive [success=1 in 20]
  • Strict rules on the use of sub-contractors
  • Does not help grow your market beyond your home country

‘Collaborative’ R&D Strengths:

  • ‘Collaborative’ R&D is far less competitive than the SME mechanism [success=1 in 5]
  • Projects up to €8 million typically may be funded
  • Opportunity to develop European market & technical contacts through collaboration
  • Risk sharing and team support within the collaboration
  • The team and resources can mean you achieve far more than you could on your own

‘Collaborative’ R&D Weaknesses:

  • The scale of funding increases administration complexity
  • Partners may not be as committed to your R&D as you would like
  • Trans-national communications can impact on ability to meet tight timescales
  • More players and more approaches open the possibility of underperformance

Is Horizon 2020 right for me?

How can MSC R&D help?

MSC R&D can bring years of experience to bear on deciding which Commission funding scheme fits best with your company and your R&D projects. For both the SME Instrument and collaborative R&D we have a good understanding of how to leverage the positive aspects of the funding schemes and excellent approaches to mitigating the weaknesses highlighted.

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