The European transport sector must have the capacity to deliver the best products and services, in a time and cost efficient manner, in order to preserve its leadership and create new jobs, as well as to tackle the environmental and mobility defies. The role of SMEs to meet these challenges in all the areas of the Transport Specific Programme is critical as they are key players in the supply chains. Enhancing the involvement of weaker players in innovation activities as well as facilitating the start-up and emergence of new high-tech SMEs is of paramount importance. SMEs are pivotal for delivering the innovations needed for greater sustainable and smarter mobility, better accessibility and logistics serving business and citizens, and thus higher economic growth, in a context where the majority of population lives in urban and urbanised areas. Actions to develop new services, products, processes, technologies, systems and combinations thereof that contribute to achieving the European transport and mobility goals defined in the 2011 Transport White Paper could be particularly suited for this call.
The SME instrument consists of three phases, including a coaching and mentoring service for beneficiaries. Participants can apply to phase 1 or directly to phase 2.
In phase 1, a feasibility study shall be developed in order to verify the technological/practical as well as economic viability of an innovation 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 activities could, for example, comprise risk assessment, market study, user involvement, Intellectual Property (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. Bottlenecks in the ability to increase profitability of the enterprise through innovation shall be detected and analysed during phase 1 and addressed during phase 2 to increase the return in investment in innovation activities. The proposal should contain an initial business plan based on the proposed idea/concept. It should outline the specifications of a more elaborate business plan, which is to be the outcome of the project, and the criteria for success.
Funding will be provided in the form of a lump sum of EUR 50.000. Projects should last around 6 months.
In phase 2, innovation projects
will be supported that address the specific challenges identified and that demonstrate high potential in terms of company competitiveness and growth underpinned by a strategic business plan. Activities should focus on innovation activities such as demonstration, testing, prototyping, piloting, scaling-up, miniaturisation, design, market replication and the like aiming to bring an innovation idea (product, process, service etc.) to industrial readiness and maturity for market introduction, but may also include some research. For technological innovation, Technology Readiness Levels of 6 or above (or similar for non-technological innovations) are envisaged; please see part G of the General Annexes.
Proposals shall be based on an elaborate business plan. Particular attention must be paid to IP protection and ownership; applicants will have to present convincing measures to ensure the possibility of commercial exploitation (‘freedom to operate’).
Proposals shall contain a specification for the outcome of the project and criteria for success. They will include an explanation of how the results of the supported project are to be commercialised and of what kind of impact on the company is expected.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 0.5 and 2.5 million.
would allow phase 2 to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts (higher or lower). Projects should last between 12 and 24 months.
- Enhancing profitability and growth performance of SMEs by combining and transferring new and existing knowledge into innovative, disruptive and competitive solutions seizing European and global business opportunities.
- Market uptake and distribution of innovations tackling the specific challenges in a sustainable way.
- Increase of private investment in innovation, notably leverage of private co-investor and/or follow-up investments.
- The expected impacts should be clearly described in qualitative and quantitative terms (e.g. on turnover, employment, market seize, IP management, sales, return on investment and profit).
Cut-off date – 18 October 2017
Source: Horizon 2020 – The European Commission