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

Alberto Di Minin, Chiara De Marco, Maria Karaulova

Research output: Working paper

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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.
In this report, we provide the description and initial analysis of the SME Instrument, as well as first lessons that can be extracted from the ongoing stream of applications. We first note that Europe has long been experiencing a paradoxical disbalance between its strength in scientific research and its low capacity in innovation. We illustrate how the need for a dedicated tool of technological innovation support within the European policy landscape has been growing, becoming increasingly recognised throughout the successive framework programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameBerkeley Roundtable on the International Economy


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