Horizon 2020 Framework Programme is the largest in the history of the European Union for research and innovation. Its budget for 2014-2020 reaches up to 80 billion euros. All Europeans can apply for the money including Polish entrepreneurs directly from Brussels.
The program is divided into three pillars, numerous programs and subroutines. In most cases, the entrepreneur must form a consortium to obtain a sponsorship. The consortia must include at least three non-affiliated entities from three different EU countries (or associates). Most appreciated are the teams with a research unit. Finding it can be difficult. In the portal dedicated to the Horizon 2020 program, you can look for partners to introduce their company as a potential participant in the consortium.
However, there is an easier way to raise money with the Horizon 2020 program. It includes a separate unit only for companies from the SME sector. It’s about the mechanism of SME instrument (instrument for small and medium-sized companies). The agents of the company may apply individually or in a consortium, but filed only with a group of companies from the SME sector. The purpose of the instrument is to support early stage projects by financing them. For the years 2014-2015 there are provided 13 preferred industries and sectors, among others, ICT, medical devices, diagnostics and eco-innovation in food production. In these years 506 million euros are booked for the competition of SME. The program was divided into three phases to support the next stages of the project.
The first phase is the feasibility study. Its aim is to assess the technical and commercial potential of products, services or technologies. What’s important is, that the applications for a sponsorship for phase 1 can be submitted throughout the year. The European Commission evaluates several times a year all the applications. The chosen applications receive 50 thousand euros for six months. The companies are also entitled to free coaching, offered through the Enterprise Europe Network – in Poland there are 30 centres.
Phase 2 is the implementation – the practical test of the planned solution until the moment when it will be ready for commercialization. In this phase the prototype and miniaturization can be financed. This may take from one to two years. The project could range from 0.5 to 2.5 million euros, of which the EC is funding 70 percent. As phase 1, phase 2 applications can also be submitted throughout the year and they are also entitled to free coaching. You can apply for phase 2 without applying for phase 1.
Phase 3 is the commercialization of ideas and coaching. Qualified for the projects will get help indirectly (non-financially) which consists of, among others, access to equity and debt, protection of intellectual property and help in getting the products into new markets. Only companies get help that have received funding in phase 1 and 2. It is not possible to apply directly to phase 3.
Budget of the second pillar (leadership in industry) program “Horizon 2020” for 2014 in millions of euros:
ICT: 700 mill.
Nanotechnology and biotechnology: 500 mill.
Risk of financing: 300 mill.
The space: 128 mill.
Innovation in SMEs: 10 mill.
Budget of the third pillar (social challenges) program “Horizon 2020” for 2014 in millions of euros:
Health: 600 mill.
Energy: 600 mill.
Transportation: 540 mill.
Food security: 300 mill.
Environment: 300 mill.
Safe Society: 200 mill.
Europe in the world: 112 mill.