During 2016-2017 the SME Instrument will sponsor SMEs operating within 13 topics

01 - High risk ICT innovation
SMEInst – 01 – 2016/2017: Open Disruptive Innovation Scheme

Specific Challenge : The challenge is to provide support to a large set of high risk innovative Start-ups and SMEs in the ICT sector. Focus will be on companies proposing disrup tive ICT concepts, products and services applying new sets of rules, values and models which ultimately disrupt existing markets.

The objective of the ODI is threefold:

  • Nurture promising innovative and disruptive ideas;
  • Support their prototyping, validation and demonstration in real world conditions;
  • Help for wider deployment or market uptake.

Proposed projects should have a potential for disruptive innovation and fast market up-take.

In particular it will be interesting for entrepreneurs and young innovative SME’s that are looking for swift support to their innovative ideas.

The ODI objective will support the validation, fast prototyping and demonstration of disruptive innovation bearing a strong EU dimension.

02 - Nanotech, or other advanced tech for manufacturing and materials
SMEInst – 02 – 2016/2017: Accelerating the uptake of nanotechnologies advanced materials or advanced manufacturing and processing technologies by SMEs

Specific challenge: Research results should be taken up by industry, harvesting the hitherto untapped potential of nanotechnologies, advanced materials and advanced manufacturing and processing technologies. The goal is to create added value by creatively combining existing research results with other necessary elements, to transfer results across sectors where applicable, to accelerate innovation and eventually create profit or other benefits. The research should bring the technology and production to industrial readiness and maturity for commercialisation after the project.

03 - Biotechnology-based industrial processes
SMEInst – 03 – 2016/2017: Dedicated support to biotechnology SMEs closing the gap from lab to market

Specific challenge: The large number of SMEs which characterise the EU industrial biotechnology sector are playing a crucial role in the move to competitive and sustainable biotechnology-based processes. These SMEs are characterised by their research intensity and long lead times between early technological development and market introduction. They therefore need to be supported to overcome the so-called “valley of death”.

04 - Space research and development
SMEInst – 04 – 2016/2017 : Engaging SMEs in space research and development

Specific challenge: To engage small and medium enterprises in space research and development, especially those not traditionally involved in it and reduce as much as possible the entry barriers to SMEs for Horizon 2020 funding.

The specific challenge of the actions envisaged under this call could cover any aspect of the Specific Programme for Space (Horizon 2020 Framework programme and Specific programme). However, it is considered that actions in the areas of applications, especially in connection to the flagship programmes Galileo and Copernicus, spinning-in (i.e. application of terrestrial solutions to challenges in space) and the development of certain critical technologies could be adequately suited for this call.

05 - Healthcare biotechnologies, biomarkers, diagnostic and medical devices
SMEInst – 05 – 2016/2017: Supporting innovative SMEs in the healthcare biotechnology sector

Specific Challenge: The healthcare biotechnology sector offers huge business and commercial opportunities; however it also requires heavy and risky investments which are often lacking in Europe, hampering the development of the industry.

The challenge includes either:

  • Cell technologies in medical applications (all phase 1 and phase 2 deadlines in 2016 and 2017

Cell technologies include cell manufacturing (culture, multiplication, scale-up and automation), preservations, banking and transport, identification, cell sorting and delivery, imaging, tracking process and quality control, genetic engineering and gene editing, production of therapeutic biomolecules. The medical applications of cell technologies include diagnostics and biosensors, cell and gene therapy, tissue engineering , bioartificial organs haematology, immunotherapy,and vaccine and antibody production, predictive toxicology, synthetic biology and modelling development and disease processes.

However, the diversity, complexity and variability of living cells pose challenges for bringing safe, reliable regulatory – compliant and cost effective products to the market and to the patient. SMEs developing cell based products and processes have limited financial resources to take the critical steps to move from proof of concept to practical application while at the same time addressing considerations such as scale-up?scale-out, automation, logistics regulatory pathways and business models.

Particular attention should be en to dialogue with regulators and compliance with safety and regulatory requirements, such as those pertaining to cell procurement, GMP, ethics, clinical trials, ATMP’s and medical devices.

The challenge addresses cells form any eukaryotic source though their eventual application must be to human medicine.


  • Clinical research for the validations of biomarkers and/or diagnostic medical devices (only at the first cut-off date in 2017 and for phase 2 applications – phasing out of the topic PHC 12-2014/2015 introduced in the Work Programme 2014/2015)

Biomarkers are used in clinical practice to indicate both normal and pathological conditions. They are also used for predictive or prognostic purposes. They are being used increasingly in medicine and many potential new biomarkers are proposed every year. However, only a few of these have been validated for clinical use. To achieve validation a robust analytical method is required and a link to a pertinent clinical process of endpoint needs to be demonstrated.

This validations process should provide evidence for high analytical value, appropriate sensitivity and specificity, and clinical validity. Particular attention should be given to validation of biomarkers with potential for rapid uptake into clinical practice. Both in vivo and in vitro potential biomarkers are eligible. Priority is given to the validation of disease-related biomarkers (i.e. diagnostic, susceptibility/ risk, monitoring and prognostic biomarkers).


06 - ICT solutions for Health, Well-Being and Ageing Well
SMEInst – 06 – 2016/2017: Accelerating market introduction of ICT solutions for Health, Well-being and Ageing Well

Specific Challenge: The challenge is to help overcome the current gaps in exploitation of promising research results in ICT for Health, Well-being and Ageing well and to stimulate increased availability and market uptake of relevant ICT products and services. This concerns both interoperable and secure eHealth4 solutions for consumers and institutional healthcare delivery building on standards and new ICT solutions and innovation ecosystems for ageing well building on open software platforms 5 , in order to deliver new and more efficient care to European citizens and respond to new market opportunities for SMEs.

Particular attention should be given to potential for disruptive innovation and fast market uptake in ICT for health, wellbeing and ageing well. In particular it will be interesting for SMEs and young companies that are looking for swift support to their innovative ideas.

07 - Sustainable forestry and agri-food
SMEInst – 07 – 2016/2017: Stimulating the innovation potential of SMEs for sustainable and competitive agriculture, forestry, agri-food and biobased sectors

Specific Challenge: SMEs can play a crucial role in developing resource-efficient and cost-effective solutions to secure sufficient supplies of safe, healthy and high quality food and other bio-based products, by developing productive, sustainable and resource-efficient primary production systems, fostering related ec system service and the recovery fo biological diversity, alongside competitive and low-carbon supply, processing and marketing chains. Actions under this topic are expected to contribute to one or a combination of several challenges addressed by Societal Challenge 2 of Horizon 2020 with regard to terrestrial resources (i.e. 2.1 ‘Sustainable agriculture and forestry’ 2.2 ‘Sustainable and competitive agri-food sector for a safe and healthy diet’ and 2.4 ‘Sustainable and competitive bio-based industries and supporting the development of a European bioeconomy’). Particular attention should be given to :

  • Advancing innovations in Integrated Pest Management
  • Resource-efficient eco-innovative food production and processing
  • Reduction of food losses and waste on farm and along the value-chain
  • Creating added value from waste and by-products generated on farm and along the value-chain
08 - Seas and oceans (Blue growth)
SMEInst – 08 – 2016/2017: Supporting SMEs efforts for the development deployment and market replication of innovative solutions for blue growth

Specific challenge: The potential of Europe’s Oceans, seas and coasts is significant for job and growth creation if the appropriate investments in research and innovation are made. SMEs contribution to the development of the ‘Blue Growth Strategy’ (COM (2012) 494) can be significant in particular in the fields of marine biotechnology (related applications, key tools and technologies) as well as aquaculture related marine technologies and services.

However, SMEs lack access to finance to develop their activities and the economic and financial crisis has made access to finance even more difficult. This is particularly true in the previously mentioned maritime sectors, where access to finance for SMEs is considered as one of the most important barriers for the development of innovative maritime economic activities.

09 - Low carbon energy systems
SMEInst – 09 – 2016/2017: Stimulating the innovation potential of SMEs for a low carbon and efficient energy system

Specific Challenge: SMEs play a crucial role in developing resource-efficient, cost-effective and affordable technology solutions to decarbonise and make more efficient the energy system in a sustainable way. They are expected to strongly contribute to all challenges outlined in the legal base of the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge ‘Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy’, in particular with regard to

Reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint by smart and sustainable use (including energy-efficient products and services as well as ‘Smart Cities and Communities’)

  • Low-cost, low-carbon electricity supply (including renewable energy as well as CCS and re-use)
  • Alternative fuels and mobile energy sources
  • A single, smart European electricity grid
  • New knowledge and technologies
  • Robust decision making and public engagement
10 - Transport and Smart Cities Mobility
SMEInst – 10 – 2016/2017 : Small business innovation research for Transport and Smart Cities Mobility

Specific challenge: The European transport sector must have the capacity to deliver the best products and services, in a time and cost efficient manner, in order to preserve its leadership and create new jobs, as well as to tackle the environmental and mobility defies. The role of SMEs to meet these challenges in all the areas of the Transport Specific Programme7 is critical as they are key players in the supply chains. Enhancing the involvement of weaker players in innovation activities as well as facilitating the start-up and emergence of new high-tech SMEs is of paramount importance.

SMEs are pivotal for delivering the innovations needed for greater sustainable and smarter mobility, better accessibility and logistics serving business and citizens, and thus higher economic growth, in a context where the majority of population lives in urban and urbanised areas. Actions to develop new services, products, processes, technologies, systems and combinations thereof that contribute to achieving the European transport and mobility goals defined in the 2011 Transport White Paper could be particularly suited for this call.

11 - Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials
SMEInst – 11 – 2016/2017: Boosting the potential of small businesses in the areas of climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials

Specific challenge: Innovative SMEs have been recognised as being able to become the engine of the green economy and to facilitate the transition to a resource efficient, climate-smart, circular economy. They can play an important role in helping the EU to exit from the economic crises and in job creation. The potential of commercialising innovative solutions from SMEs is however hindered by several barriers including the absence of the proof of concept, the difficulty to access risk finance, the lack of prototyping, insufficient scale-up studies, etc. Growth therefore needs to be stimulated by increasing the levels of innovation in SMEs, covering their different innovation needs over the whole innovation cycle.

Innovative SMEs should be supported and guided to reach and accelerate their full green growth potential. This topic is targeted at all types of eco-innovative SMEs in all areas addressing the climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials challenge, focusing on SMEs showing a strong ambition to develop, grow and internationalise. All kinds of promising ideas, products, processes, services and business models, notably across sectors and disciplines, for commercialisation both in a business-to-business (B2B) and a business-to-customer (B2C) context, are eligible.

12 - New business models for inclusive societies
SMEInst – 12 – 2016/2017: New business models for inclusive, innovative and reflective societies

Specific Challenge: SMEs, including social enterprises and cultural actors, can build their growth on business model innovation, taking into account new opportunities arising from individual empowerment, from a more collaborative economy, from opening up government data and services and from the pervasive use of new technologies. A change of paradigm from ownership to access, from individual consumption to shared functionalities can be applied in several sectors benefiting from digital technologies and ensuring more sustainable lifestyles to EU citizens particularly in cities. A similar paradigm shift is happening in the relationship between government, citizens and businesses, where societal actors take on a more proactive role in the design and delivery of public services. One of the main challenges is to attract business to use public platforms to create more value as current business models do not adequately exploit the benefits of participation and collaboration with government. New ways of creating, producing, consuming, using, educating, learning, caring, moving and living are emerging in European cities. New ways of creating innovative public services, using open data and open public services provide new business opportunities. SMEs developing and adapting new business models play a key role in these transformations. The specific challenge addressed by this topic is to enable SMEs in traditional and new sectors, collaborative economy and creative sectors, cultural heritage and the social economy as well as collaborative public service creating to innovate and grow across traditional boundaries, through new business models and organisational change.

13 - Security research and development
SMEInst – 13 – 2016/2017: Engaging SMEs in security research and development

Specific Challenge: To engage small and medium enterprises in innovation activities in the domain of security, especially those not traditionally involved in it, and reduce as much as possible the entry barriers to SMEs for Horizon 2020 funding. The actions under this topic should cover any aspect of the Specific Programme for “secure societies – protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens” (Horizon 2020 Framework programme and Specific programme):

  • Fighting crime, illegal trafficking and terrorism, including understanding and tackling terrorist ideas and beliefs
  • Protecting and improving the resilience of critical infrastructures, supply chains and transport modes
  • Strengthening security through border management
  • Improving cyber security
  • Increasing Europe’s resilience to crises and disasters
  • Ensuring privacy and freedom, including in the Internet, and enhancing the societal legal and ethical understanding of all areas of security, risk and management
  • Enhancing standardisation and interoperability of systems, including for emergency purposes
  • Supporting the Union’s external security policies, including through conflict prevention and peace-building



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