SME Instrument – So Far So Good? Expectations, Reality and Lessons to Learn


The SME Instrument (SMEI) is a new consolidated funding scheme within Horizon 2020. It was introduced in 2014 as a dedicated tool to support high potential innovation, ultimately as a way to consolidate EU policy efforts to foster European competitiveness in advanced technologies in order to match its excellence in science. The expectations were pinned on small firms – the drivers of knowledge economy. There was never previously a tool dedicated exclusively to supporting the technological entrepreneurship of small and medium-sized companies in the European policy landscape. Therefore, the introduction of the SME Instrument was eagerly expected and widely welcomed by both policymakers and European small companies.

However, both practitioners and experts have been growing increasingly frustrated with the pace and the rates of implementation of the Instrument. With the extraordinary rate of response from European SMEs that the Instrument received, it has so far been financially constrained in satisfying the demand, which has eventually led to some losses of investment and the neglect of talent. 

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Alberto Di Minin
Chiara Eleonora De Marco
Maria Karaulova
Publication date: 
October 1, 2016
Publication type: 
Working Paper