Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) based in Turkey can directly benefit from Horizon 2020 mainly in the following three possibilities:
- As single beneficiaries in the EIC Accelerator
- As partners or coordinators in Horizon 2020 collaborative projects
- As subcontractors for providing specific services to actors that are involved in Horizon 2020 projects
Next, we elaborate further each of the three possibilities.
1st Possibility: EIC Accelerator
The EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument) is designed for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMES) with radically new ideas and a clear business plan for rolling out marketable innovation solutions and scaling up in European and global markets. It targets for-profit SMEs only, including young companies and start-ups, from any sector - there are no set topics. Only single companies (as opposed to consortia) can apply for EIC Accelerator.
Large corporates, research centers or scientists cannot apply directly but they can participate in projects as subcontractors or third parties and don't need to be established in an EU Member State or associated country.
Accelerator is the new name for the SME Instrument (SMEI). It is aimed at SMEs with outstanding proposals for innovative ideas that satisfy clear market needs. Accelerator differs from the earlier SME Instrument in that there is no Phase 1 grant and projects at TRL 6 and above will have the added option of ‘blended finance’. The blended finance concept is new; combining EC grant funding with private sector and EC venture capital funds. Projects at TRL 9 and any other stage above (e.g. commercialisation or scaling up) will only be offered equity participation from the private sector and/or the EC.
Accelerator funding is pitched at SMEs in need of one last push before scaling up to commercial success. There is an even stronger focus on commercial potential. The application process and documentation have been streamlined in comparison to the earlier programme. The key evaluation criteria remain the same; ‘IMPACT’; ‘EXCELLENCE’; and ‘IMPLEMENTATION’ – but interpretations have been strengthened.
In Accelerator, there is greater emphasis on ‘Impact’. SMEs must show how their projects will quickly take a strong lead in European and global markets through competitive commercial success, resulting in business growth in jobs and sales.
‘Excellence’, must be demonstrated by high-risk, high-potential, disruptive ideas that have a high degree of novelty and offer solutions that go beyond state of the art, yet have difficulty in attracting commercial funding.
All of this must be backed up by demonstrable quality and efficiency of ‘Implementation’. SMEs must show that alternative funding options – such as investments and bank finance - are not open to them because of the risky nature of their projects. Evaluators will also look at the technical and business experience of the SME teams, the availability of resources and realistic timeframes. This must be supported by coherent and plausible work packages, deliverables and milestones.
Bidders will be invited to pitch to investors if they pass with high score (not fixed since it depends on the quality of all proposals submitted but normally is min 14 and up to 15 total score) the initial evaluations stage. Coaching and mentoring services will be available to successful bidders.
First, you must register your business as a participant with the European Commission. This is a simple process which begins by contacting the Participant Register contained in the EC Funding and Tenders Portal at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/portal/screen/home . At the end of the registration process you will receive a Participant Identification Code (PIC) number which must be used on all communications and applications for support. Once registered, you can then apply for Accelerator support through the same portal.
How to apply for Accelerator
There are three steps to obtaining funding:
- Step 1: APPLICATION – Accelerator is for innovative ideas in any field and you can apply at any time of the year, but there are four cut-off dates for proposal processing each year. 70% of a project budget from 0.5 Million to 2.5 Million Euro is available, plus a 25% allowance for overheads. This equates to an overall figure of around 87.5% of funding. Additional commercial equity options of up to 15 Million Euro are available for projects that are close to commercialisation.
- Step 2: EVALUATION – After initial clearance by the EIC team, there is a two-stage evaluation process. An international team of external evaluators who are experienced in technical and commercial fields will evaluate your proposal. If it passes with a high score this first stage, you will then be invited to pitch your proposal to a judging panel in Brussels.
- Step 3: DECISION – Decisions on funding usually take a maximum of 3 months; this may be longer if the equity option is involved.
Competition for Accelerator is tough and very selective. It is therefore essential that you only apply with genuinely innovative ideas and then provide highly detailed information and analyses to convince the evaluators that you should be awarded funding.
What happens next?
All proposers are informed about the outcome of their submissions. If successful, the proposal will move into a negotiating stage with Commission officials. If unsuccessful, proposals can be re-submitted after improvements have been made.
In the context of "Turkey in Horizon 2020 phase II" programme, we have a lot of useful services related to the EIC accelerator. More specifically,
- SME Project Writing Camps (PWC-SMEs) with step-by-step trainings on how to develop a winning EIC accelerator grant application and also have one-to-one consultations with experts to discuss how to improve your existing draft EIC accelerator. You can check on the link above also the sessions we have organised and download the training material.
- SME Project Writing Training (PWT-SMEs) that also provide step-by-step trainings on how to develop a winning EIC accelerator grant application but there aren't one-to-one consultations with experts. However, they are repeated more often that the PWC-SMEs. You can check on the link above also the sessions we have organised and download the training material.
- IRT - Investment Readiness Training for SMEs with sessions on how to attract external investors for your innovation as an SME. Interesting sessions were what the investors are looking, how to present to investors and impress them and different investment options. You can check on the link above for the presentations made at that event.
- Webinars on H2020 SME Instrument (WEB) that you can participate live but remotely or watch the sessions at your convenient time. Each session is about one hour long and addresses various topics such as "Accelerator: Important Changes to the SME Instrument" or "What is SME Instrument and is it suitable for my business?"
- SME Support Guides that contain a ‘User Guide to the EIC Accelerator’ that provides more in-depth information and relevant web sites as well as a leaflet on "EIC Accelerator"
If you still have energy and curiosity for further information on Accelerator and other elements of the EIC Pilot, you can check the link: https://ec.europa.eu/research/eic/index.cfm of the European Commission as well as note that TÜBİTAK offers a wide range of support to SMEs wishing to participate in EC programmes; see: https://ufuk2020.org.tr/en/h2020/sme-instrument
2nd Possibility: As partners or coordinators in Horizon 2020 collaborative projects
According to the EC Horizon 2020 dashboard data for October 2019, 13989 SMEs are already participating either as partners or coordinators in winning Horizon 2020 projects from all over Europe and 90 SMEs are participating from Turkey in Horizon 2020 projects so far.
From the figure above, we can see that SMEs are involved in the main following areas:
- LEIT - ICT with H2020 collaborative projects in electronics, microsystems, networking, the ability to master increasingly complex cyber-physical systems and robots, and progress in data processing and human machine interfaces.
- INNOSUPSME with H2020 collaborative projects that aim to test new approaches for better innovation support through funding opportunities for innovation actors across Europe.
- MSCA that enables research-focused organisations (universities, research centres, and companies) to host talented foreign researchers and to create strategic partnerships with leading institutions worldwide. Attention is paid to encouraging the strong participation of industry, in particular SMEs, for the successful implementation and impact of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. Further information on MSCA, you can find from TUBITAK at https://h2020.org.tr/tr/h2020/marie-curie
- ENERGY with H2020 collaborative projects to support the transition to a reliable, sustainable and competitive energy system.
- TPT with H2020 collaborative projects to boost the competitiveness of the European transport industries and achieve a European transport system that is resource-efficient, climate-and-environmentally-friendly, safe and seamless for the benefit of all citizens, the economy and society.
- FOOD with H2020 collaborative projects towards optimal and renewable use of biological resources and towards sustainable primary production and processing systems. These systems will need to produce more food, fibre and other bio-based products with minimised inputs, environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions, and with enhanced ecosystem services, zero waste and adequate societal value.
- ENV with H2020 collaborative projects that aim to achieve a resource, water efficient and climate change resilient economy and society
- HEALTH with H2020 collaborative projects that support better health for all
- LEIT-ADVMANU, LEIT-NMP, LEIT, ADVMAT with H2020 collaborative projects in the areas of Advanced Materials, Nanotechnologies & Biotechnology and Advanced Materials.
- Security with H2020 collaborative projects that aim at understanding, detecting, preventing, deterring, preparing and protecting against security threats.
In the programme "Turkey in Horizon 2020 phase II", we offer the following services in order to support SMEs to get involved in Horizon 2020 collaborative projects
- How to identify the most promising call opportunity for your proposal idea in Horizon 2020 that was part of the IMS-1 training
- How to join consortia as a partner in general in the context of the IMS-1 training or in specific Security, Energy calls and soon in ICT calls.
- How to develop winning projects with a step-by-step approach in specific Security, Energy calls and soon in ICT calls.
- How to become a valuable partner by writing an impressive Impact section in grant applications for H2020 collaborative projects in the context of the IMS-2 training
There will be other trainings also to be organised and you should check our events page for past and upcoming trainings at https://turkeyinh2020.eu/event-list/. In any case, you can check the links above for accessing the proper training material so far. In general, the training material for most of our trainings can be found from our helpdesk.
Furthermore, you can visit the TUBITAK website specifically about Horizon 2020 for more info.
3rd Possibility: As subcontractors for providing specific services to actors that are involved in Horizon 2020 projects
A lot of SMEs are involved as subcontractors in Horizon 2020 projects for offering their expertise. They do not participate as partners, i.e. they don't receive funding from the EC directly but they are getting paid for their services by one of the beneficiaries in Horizon 2020 collaborative projects. In addition to specialised services in specific areas other general services can be :
- Conduction of clinical trials
- Conduction of research or market studies
- Organisation of events
- Promotion of projects
- IPR and legal advice
- Social research
- Certifications and regulatory authorisations
- Production of printing and promotion material
If you offer any specialised services such as the ones above or any other, you can contact directly currently Horizon 2020 projects and promote your services to them.