EU projects – Technology Scouting – Business Innovation

SME Instrument Accessible to Swiss Companies

An article titled „SME Instrument Accessible to Swiss Companies“ by Dr. Rudolf Frycek of AMIRES was published in the June issue of the Focus bulletin issued by platinn innovation platform in Switzerland.  The article (in French) can be accessed HERE.  Below is its English translation. Enjoy the reading!

Since January 2017 the Swiss SMEs can receive direct funding for their innovation projects from a specific SME Instrument in Horizon 2020 (2014-2020). The instrument bridges the missing funding between research and development activities towards commercialization of products, services or processes that are ready to face global market competition. The funding was particularly designed to be light in administration and organization and allows the company to fully react to individual needs (e.g. in terms of subcontracting or capital investments). Because the funding is provided to projects with advanced maturity (higher technology readiness level) a single company receives a grant up to 70% of the their costs. This tool allows to share the technological and market risks related to the commercialization of highly innovative projects.

 The programme offers € 50.000 lump sum for Phase I, where an SME can strengthen the technical concept and its feasibility, test pilot application, to start market experimentation, business planning and to secure protection of intellectual property. This information is practically needed for Phase II, which allows prototyping, testing, piloting, miniaturisation, scaling-up and market replication and companies may receive up to € 2.5 Million. By today, about 2650 European SMEs received support and there is more than € 1.8 Billion still available for this instrument till 2020. In 2017 the highest funding is allocated to innovations from the field of healthcare biotechnology sector, disruptive ICT, transport and smart cities mobility, low carbon and efficient energy system, climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials and nanotechnologies advanced materials or advanced manufacturing and processing technologies but others are possible as well.

 The Swiss innovative SMEs are gradually reacting to this opportunity, which can boost their international growth (till now 61 SMEs submitted a project to Phase I and 10 for Phase II). Despite the demonstrated fact the supported companies were mainly from industrialization or renewable life-cycle stage, the start-ups are not excluded. The competition for funding is relatively high (with success rate of 6-9%) therefore only the projects with high-potential innovation, demonstrated capacity and well-prepared proposals have chances to succeed. The other success factors are scalability of the business model, long-term value, team composition and experience.

 The platinn clients can receive a complementary coaching for having higher success in the selection process. The service Cooperation provides proven hands-on experience with proposal preparation to both phases. The service Business Development helps with methodology on the business planning and market experimentation.