European Entreprenerus CEA-PME Position Paper on the "SME Instrument": It Must Be Continued in Horizon Europe

CEA-PME European Entrepreneurs together with VIU, the German Association of Innovative Companies, published a Position Paper on the Future of the "SME Instrument" in HorizonEurope, the EU's programme for R&D covering the 2021-2027 period.

The current European Research and Innovation Framework Program "Horizon 2020" expires at the
end of 2020. The concept for the new program for Research and Innovation covering the period 2021-2027, HorizonEurope, has been proposed by the European Commission and is being discussed by Member States.

The European Commission's proposal is as follows: under the "Open Innovation" pillar, a European
Innovation Council (EIC) was created in 2017 to bring together support measures for businesses and

In the future, two funding instruments will be available to the EIC: Pathfinder and Accelerator.

If the proposal were to be implemented, European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME and the Association of Innovative Companies (VIU) see very decisive disadvantages for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe.

Neither tool can be considered as a continuation of the SME Instrument, as both funding instruments are intended to address other important target groups in addition to SMEs. The proposal of the EU Commission has the great disadvantage that the proven H2020 “SME Instrument” will in fact be abolished.

European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME and VIU therefore demand:

1) Continuation and expansion of Phase I and Phase II of the SME Instrument as grant funding as it fills the crucial funding vacuum for high-tech firms. The SME Instrument is important for SMEs in all European Member States because currently no other funding and support instruments could fill this funding gap.

2) Increasing the SME Instrument to € 10.5 billion, as described in the Commission proposal. Demand and need are significantly greater than currently available resources. If we want to do justice to the importance of SMEs in Europe and catch up with support initiatives in the US and Asia, an increase in funding is inevitable.

3) Individual support should also be possible in Horizon Europe. No promising company wants to share their most sensitive strategies and specific know-how with others. Companies need to differentiate themselves because they are fully in competition. Due to the dynamics of markets, the company must have full control. Wrong, formally enforced cooperation among partners can quickly destroy a good cause.

4) Continue to maintain the technology readiness levels so that all breakthrough innovations have a chance for commercialization.

5) The further development of an ecosystem for small and medium-sized enterprises, which allows access to investment funds and the global market via large corporations, is very welcome. In various projects and contracts, the European Commission has already promoted and initiated European-level network services, e.g. Coaches networks and the Accelerator services of the SME Instrument. The bundling of various actions and the sustainable development of these service projects are expressly welcome.


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