This post summarises the key things that you need to be aware of when considering applying to Horizon 2020.
‘SME Instrument – Open Disruptive Scheme’ is the section of Horizon 2020 relevant to smaller companies in creative industries
Most of Horizon 2020 is not suitable for SMEs (small to medium size businesses), but the ‘SME Instrument’ section is specifically there to provide funding to smaller businesses. Within SME Instrument is the ‘Open Disruptive Scheme’ which is relevant for creative businesses.
How much money do they have?
Horizon 2020 as a whole has huge amount of funding.
For the SME Instrument – Open Disruptive Scheme specifically in 2015 they planned to fund 90 phase 1 projects (up to €50k) in 2015 and up to 26 phase 2 projects (up to €2.5million).
When does the fund end?
The fund runs until 2020 (started 2014) but they announce details including themes and submission dates in 2 year sections.
How much money can I apply for?
There are 3 phases you can apply for:
Phase 1 – feasibility study, €50k (70% match funding)
Phase 2 – Innovation project, between €500k-€2.5m (70% match funding)
Phase 2 – Commercialisation & Coaching, no funding, provides support to projects funded through Phase 2
What Phase should I apply for?
It depends on your project, however there is a very strong link between companies who undertake a Phase 1 before applying for Phase 2. The success rate of companies applying straight for Phase 2 is very low.
How long should my project be?
Phase 1 – usually around 6-9 months
Phase 2 – 1-2 years
Phase 3 – On-going
You need to have the potential to grow to a very large company on a global scale
They are looking for companies who could provide benefit to the European Union, so you have to have plans that include scaling significantly.
You have to be doing something genuinely innovative
There has to be something new, for example a new technology, in what you are doing.
You need a solid business plan that focuses on the EU
You must be market ready, so need a solid business plan. Phase 1 is designed to fund you to develop this, so that going into Phase 2 you have it ready. Horizon 2020 is an EU program so your plan must focus on the EU, not just the UK.
You have to already have proven that your idea works
You need to have already developed the project to a point where it works.
You need customers
You need to be able to show strong demonstrable market interest, which ideally means having customers already.