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How to secure Horizon 2020 SME Instrument funding

Written by Emma Hunt on 30 April 2018

If you are in the process of applying for SME Instrument funding, read this first.

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Access support for your SME Instrument funding stream

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What is the SME Instrument funding?


Provided with about €1.6 billion in funding until 2020, the SME Instrument supports groundbreaking innovative ideas for products, services or processes that are ready to conquer global markets. The funding is awarded in 3 phases.


We can help you strengthen your application to prepare for funding.


Entomics secured a €50,000 grant


Entomics Biosystems is an example of a company we helped to secure the funding. The company was founded by four Cambridge University graduates that are making a huge difference to two internationally crucial matters; human food waste and unsustainable fish feed. The entrepreneurs have developed a unique technology that processes everyday food waste into bio-based products which can be used to feed salmon.


Roger first met Entomics in January 2017 when they identified the Horizon 2020 SME instrument funding. The innovators knew that the application process for funding was incredibly competitive, so they came to EEN for help to prepare a successful bid.  By the 29th of March 2017 Entomics received the approval to say their application had been successful. It meant that not only did Entomics receive €50,000 grant but also free business coaching support. The extra support helped Entomics develop strategies for effective customer engagement and market entry. Entomics are now on track to generate turnover, engage with customers worldwide, employ staff and make a major contribution to society by creating sustainable food supply networks for the world’s growing population.


How to improve your application for funding


Ask yourselves questions and challenge your idea or service. Think about: implementation, excellence and impact.



Know your team, understand their achievements and experiences and use those to your advantage. Similarly, ensure that you are clear of their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding this will strengthen your application.




Challenge yourself. Ask yourself what is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity. How is your product or service meeting the need? What is the innovation you are proposing? Why is there a gap in the market and how are you filling it? Answering these questions within your application you will strengthen it whilst being concise and to the point.




When entering a new market identify your customers. Who are your target customers? What type of market do you see yourself in, what’s the growth potential and who are your competitors?

Ensure the business model fits with your overall business strategy and ensure you have secured the relevant intellectual property right and legal framework to enter into new markets. By analysing these areas of your business you’ll be able to strengthen your application and give it impact. 

This aspect is particularly important as it carries extra weighting when your application is evaluated.


Before you submit your funding proposal, consider:


  1. Remember, you are offering a commercialisation plan not writing a research proposal. Remain focused on the ability for your product or service to make money rather than the ins and outs of what the product or service does. Avoid using technical jargon.
  2. Is the technology demonstrable and can you show that?
  3. Is your innovation world leading and disruptive?
  4. Can it make a global impact?
  5. Is the plan consistent throughout?
  6. Keep to the page limits and minimum font size
  7. Answer the prompts in the template
  8. Make the proposal exciting, use images and use passion.


Are you thinking about applying for SME instrument funding?


If so, get in touch. We have a team of advisors who are on hand to strengthen your application at no cost to your business. This support is fully funded by Innovate UK and the European Commission, enabling The Enterprise Europe Network to help businesses like yours reach its potential.

Thank you so much for your help and support throughout this process. We really appreciate it, and we look forward to continuing to work with your team during our project

Matt McLaren, CEO, Entomics Biosystems Ltd.