Funding News

Currently, there are two key funding instruments for innovative SMEs at the European level: EUREKA Eurostars and the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument. We’ve covered both schemes in our blog in the past and frequent readers might have noticed some similarities. Both schemes aim to promote innovation in SMEs.

Do you have a project idea or a new product or technology that your company wishes to pursue or develop further? But you don`t know which programme is best suited for you? For any SMEs asking themselves these questions, we’ve compiled a short comparison of the two funding programmes.

Eurostars and Horizon 2020 SME Instrument compared

Project characteristics EUREKA Eurostars H2020 SME Instrument (Phase 2)
Topic Any project idea Any project idea
Partners Min. 1 SME and 1 Partner from another country 1 SME (smaller project tasks can be outsourced)
Duration Max. 3 years (average 31 months) Max. 2 years (average unknown)
TRL 3-6 by project end (can be higher) 6 or above by project end
Costs Personnel costs, overheads, travel, consumables  (national funding rules apply) Personnel costs, travel, equipment, infrastructure, goods and services
Funding 50% of project costs for SMEs in most countries (national funding rules apply) 70% of direct and direct project costs (i.e. 87.5% effective funding rate)
Application process    
Deadline Two cut-off dates per year (typically one in March and one in September) Three to four cut-off dates per year
Format Online forms for project description, work plan and all other details + one PDF attachment for additional information (optional) Online forms for administrative information + two PDF uploads (one with max. 30 pages containing the project description and one for the company profile and additional information)
Evaluation results Four months after the submission deadline Two months after the submission deadline
Success rates ~ 30% ~ 5%
Project start About 6-12 months after the submission deadline About 3-6 months after the submission deadline


For a more detailed explanation of both funding programmes, we’ve created factsheets for you to download and print (Eurostars factsheet, Horizon 2020 SME Instrument factsheet). Obviously, the choice of the instrument also depends on the need for collaboration, the timing, individual preferences and other factors. Our experience is that SME Instrument proposals require more time to prepare. On the other hand, coordinating project partners, fulfilling the somewhat complicated Eurostars financial rules (e.g. max. 75% of the project costs can be for one single partner or country) and depending on the ultimate decision of the national funding agencies can be a challenge.

We have experience in both!

accelopment has vast experience in writing European grant applications. This experience includes project proposals for the SME Instrument, including the first Swiss phase 2 SME Instrument TEEWood and the Eurostars funded sus@pension. Once approved, we can support you in the contract negotiations, called the grant preparation, and provide project management support. Please feel free to contact us and ask for Marco, Johannes or Jeanette, our SME-experts.

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