In 2015, the EU will continue to make available grants to individual SMEs demonstrating capability to develop innovative technological processes, products, services, solutions, or business models with a strong EU and/or global relevance. Project proposals in the following areas are now being invited:
- ICT Open Disruptive Innovation (focus on the application of new sets of rules, values and models which ultimately disrupt existing markets and/or create new ones)
- Low carbon and efficient energy system (in particular with regard to reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint by smart and sustainable use; low-cost & low-carbon electricity supply, including renewable energy; as well as carbon capture, storage and re-use; alternative fuels and mobile energy sources; a single, smart European electricity grid)
- Smart, green and integrated transport (particular focus on time and cost efficiency, tackling of environmental and mobility deficits)
- Biotechnology-based industrial processes driving competitiveness and sustainability.
- Development, deployment and market replication of innovative solutions for blue growth (e.g. marine biotechnology, aquaculture related marine technologies and services, other maritime and coastal economic activities)
- Resource-efficient eco-innovative food production and processing (particular focus on achieving a significant reduction in water and energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation, while at the same time improving the efficiency in the use of raw materials, increasing climate resilience and ensuring or improving shelf life, food safety and quality).
- Eco-innovation and sustainable supply of raw materials, with particular focus on the green, resource-efficient and circular economy.
- Accelerating the uptake of nanotechnologies, advanced materials or manufacturing and processing technologies by SMEs
- Clinical research for the validation of biomarkers and/or diagnostic medical devices
- Space (particularly applications connected to the EGNOS, Galileo and Copernicus programmes, application of terrestrial solutions to challenges in space and the development of certain critical related technologies)
- Security and protection of urban soft targets and urban critical infrastructures
- Innovative mobile e-government applications
- Business model innovation
In a 1st phase, funding support in the form of a lump sum of EUR 50,000 is available for the undertaking of a feasibility study verifying the technological/practical as well as economic viability of an innovative idea/concept with considerable novelty to the industry sector in which it is presented (new products, processes, design, services and technologies or new market applications of existing technologies). The specific activities could, for example, comprise risk assessment, market study, user involvement, IP management, innovation strategy development, partner search, feasibility of concept and the like, to establish a solid high-potential innovation project aligned to the enterprise strategy and with a European dimension. Such phase 1 project should last around 6 months.
In a 2nd phase, innovation projects that that demonstrate high potential in terms of company competitiveness and growth underpinned by a strategic business plan and freedom to operate will be supported. Such support will take the form of an EU contribution of between EUR 0.5 and 2.5 million (indicative figures), but not more than 70% of the total eligible costs. Supported activities consist of demonstration, testing, prototyping, piloting, scaling-up, miniaturisation, design, market replication and the like, the ultimate aim being to bring an innovation idea (product, process, service etc) to industrial readiness and maturity for market introduction. Whilst the focus should be on innovation related activities, some research may also be included. The phase 2 projects should last between 12 and 24 months.
As a first in the area of EU centralised funding programmes, an SME can apply for such funding support on its own or in association with other SMEs if this is appropriate. Applications can be made for phase 1 with a view to applying to phase 2 at a late date, or directly to phase 2.
Through the EUR 259 million budget made available for 2015, a total of some 740 projects are envisaged to be funded.
Whilst project funding applications are being received on a continuous basis, the selection of projects for funding however is taking place after a number of cut-off dates, being: 18th March, 17th June, 17th September and 16th December 2015.