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EUREKA’s Eurostars – Insights to power your next innovation project application

17th May 2024 at 9:58 am

Eurostars is the largest international public funding programme for innovative SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) who want to develop new commercial products, processes or services in collaboration with other companies or research institutions located in another Eurostars country. This public funding scheme is co-funded by the European Union through Horizon Europe and national funding bodies from the programme’s 37 participating countries. It has become popular for both start-ups and established companies, and has generated more than 1.75 billion euro in public-private investments since 2014. The next Eurostars call by the Eureka Network for proposals or applications will open on the 12th of July 2024 and will certainly spark the interest of many SMEs in Europe and beyond.

Eurostars proven success – a continued engine for European innovation

Since its inception, Eurostars has continued to be a major source of support for innovative European businesses. For the first five calls of the Eurostars 3 programme, which spanned from November 2021 and September 2023, 531 projects have been awarded funding, with a total of 1,610 participating entities. Typically, a Eurostars project consortium involves around three partners. The consortium consists on average of two innovative SMEs together with one research partner, being mostly a university or a research institute.

Participation rates in the Eurostars 3 programme have varied across Europe, with some countries naturally having a larger applicant pool than others. As the table below illustrates, the Netherlands stands out with the highest number of participating entities at 220, followed by Denmark at 175 and Switzerland at 165. This trend likely reflects a correlation between a nation’s budget allocation to the programme and its domestic applicant pool. In other words, countries with larger national budgets are able to fund a greater number of their domestic applicants.

Country# Participating entities
1. Netherlands220
2. Denmark175
3. Switzerland165
4. Germany158
5. Spain138

But why exactly is Eurostars such an attractive funding scheme for startups and SMEs beyond the clear financial benefits of securing non-dilutive funding and the opportunity to collaborate on innovative and market-driven R&D with like-minded international partners? To understand the impact of Eurostars on SMEs, Eureka conducted a study that examined participating companies after project completion. The most significant benefit was considered the increased visibility and business credibility across Europe. Successful projects gain pan-European recognition, which serves as a powerful validation of your business model. This reputational boost improves private investors’ perception of your organisation, facilitating eventual future fundraising for your innovative startup or SME. The study also revealed other positive outcomes:

These statistics paint a clear picture: Eurostars offers a compelling opportunity for innovative startups and SMEs to compete on a global scale and achieve international success.  In the next section of this blog post, we’ll delve deeper into the specific insights for Swiss businesses interested in the programme.

Swiss insights into Eurostars

Swiss SMEs and research institutions are actively engaged in the Eurostars programme as evidenced by the high application rates. However, despite this strong competition, Switzerland still boasts a good chance of project approval as Innosuisse, the Swiss Confederation’s innovation agency, has the capacity to fund roughly 30 projects per Eurostars call.

Success rates, as depicted in the graph below, may fluctuate slightly over time. However, they remain relatively high when compared to other participating countries. On average, roughly one out of three Swiss project applications manages to secure funding. This is further underpinned by Switzerland’s impressive performance during the previous Eurostars 2 programme (2014-2020) where it achieved the second highest overall success rate (33.2%) amongst participating countries. Notably, the Netherlands secured the top spot with a 34.1% success rate, while Belgium followed closely behind Switzerland at 32.2%.


The programme holds significant appeal for Swiss businesses of all sizes. Startups, SMEs, universities and research institutions can all leverage Eurostars to fund up to 50% of their total project costs. Even large companies can benefit with Innosuisse offering grant coverage of up to 25% of project expenses.

Given these attractive funding opportunities and Switzerland’s historical success rate, the Eurostars programme is certainly worth exploring for any Swiss business or research institution seeking to collaborate on innovative projects with international partners in the future.

Benefit from our Eurostars experience!

Are you interested in applying for the next EUREKA Eurostars call and maximising your chances of success? Our many years of Proposal Writing experience allow us to support you throughout the whole application process, from navigating through the country-specific call requirements and facilitating communication with your project partner(s), to managing and fine-tuning your application in the Eurostars online platform. We have been involved in several successful Eurostars applications in the past, such as the awarded OPTO-BRAIN, MAXCOAT, NoCaTS, sus@pension, MiniLib, RETWood, FP-Catheter, and AirToxMonitor. We are eager to help you convince the evaluators of your innovation project!

Robin Vanneste
Business & Finance Associate