Subsidies & Funding

We empower medical innovation

Project Management

We manage research & innovation projects

Business Strategy

We support successful commercialisation


Horizon 2020 for Industry

Eurostars aims to stimulate SMEs to lead international collaborative research and innovation projects by easing access to support and funding. 

Eurostars funding for life sciences companies

Grant applications with high success rates

With an overall success rate of approximately 30% (and 70% for proposals supported by ttopstart), and being backed by a total fund of €1.14 billion, Eurostars is an extremely attractive funding option for life sciences SMEs as compared to, for example, the SME Instrument. 

Eurostars is a funding and support programme, aimed at R&D-performing SMEs that wish to exploit the benefits that come with international collaboration. Projects must be started and led by an SME, but can include academic partners such as universities and research institutions.

The overall goal of the Eurostars is to stimulate growth and development of SMEs in Europe by shortening the time-to-market of new technologies.

What to apply for?

This call funds proposals with a varying budget per country, but typically between EUR 500k and EUR 1 million.

Typical life sciences Eurostars projects include:

  • Medical imaging
  • Drug and diagnostics development
  • Drug delivery methods
  • ICT

Benefits for companies:

  • Work with other companies to develop competitive products and services.

  • Support this effort with non-dilutive funding (and decrease risk).

  • Collaborate and benefit from the experience of top-class researchers using the latest state-of-the-art equipment in academic institutions.

Benefits for partner universities / research institutions:

  • Initiate and build long-term partnerships with industrial partners.
  • Gain access to expertise in industry.
  • Exploit the business potential of the discoveries.

Conditions for the Eurostars programme

  • Proposals should focus on the development of innovative products and services in any technological area;

  • Projects must be started and led by an SME;

  • The consortium leader should be an R&D performing SME from a Eurostars country;

  • The consortium should consist of at least two Eurostars participating countries;

  • The duration of an Eurostars project last no longer than three years;

  • The product of research should be ready for market introduction within two years after project completion

When to apply?

The Eurostars programme returns every year with two deadlines. The next deadline is October 22, 2019.

For more information about the conditions and deadlines for the Eurostars programme, visit our Life Sciences Funding Database.

Why ttopstart?

With our great experience in writing and coordinating successful Eurostars applications, we co-develop your project including support in shaping the concept and writing the entire Eurostars application and are able to effectively coordinate the consortium. As such, we will not only provide you with the right resources to execute your project, but will also help you to shape your business.

Our success rates speak for themselves

We have supported multiple successful Eurostars applications, with a 70% staggering success rate. Furthermore, our proposals have consistently been ranked high by the EC reviewers.

Request assistance

Are you considering to apply for Eurostars? ttopstart can help you in writing a competitive and strong proposal including taking necessary strategic steps. Contact us to find out what we can do for you.


ir. Jasper Levink

The SME instrument aims to fill gaps in funding for early-stage, high-risk research and innovation as well as stimulating breakthrough innovations by SMEs.

What is the SME instrument action?

The SME instrument integrates the specific SME Research & Innovation support of the EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) into one comprehensive, simple and easily accessible scheme. Support is provided in three different stages, covering the whole innovation cycle:

Write a business plan for commercialization

How does the application process work?

The SME Instrument consists of two phases: the feasibility study (phase 1) and from concept to market (phase 2). You can apply to phase 1 as a means of preparing for phase 2, but directly applying for phase 2 is also possible. 

Upcoming deadlines

This programme has multiple cut-offs per year. The upcoming deadlines are September 5, 2019, for phase 1 and October 9, 2019, for phase 2, and the last deadlines on November 4, 2020, and October 7, 2020, respectively. Phase 2 includes a second step, with a face-to-face interview in Brussels. These interviews are on invitation only.

Changes in the SME Instruments work programme 2018-2020

The SME Instruments funding scheme will undergo significant changes compared to prior years, in the interval 2018-2020. Compared to previous years, for the final part of the Horizon 2020 programme, this call will benefit from a larger budget, it will shed its topic constraints, and will mirror the private investment analysis of the business proposition. Read more about the changes in the SME Instrument work programme 2018-2020.

Who is eligible to apply?

Only a single for-profit SME or a consortium of for-profit SMEs can apply for funding under the SME instrument. Other partners – such as research providers or larger companies – can be involved as third parties, in general in a subcontracting relationship. Furthermore, the SME instrument asks applicants to present innovation projects that have reached Technology Readiness Level 6 as a minimum (or similar for non-technological innovations). This means that the proposed activities have to take place in the operational or production environment.

How do I know if my company is defined as an SME?

Read also our resource "How to obtain the SME status you deserve"

The main factors determining whether a company is an SME (EU definition) are:

  1. The number of employees
  2. Either turnover or balance sheet total
Company Category Employees Turnover or Balance sheet total
Medium-sized < 250 ≤ € 50 m ≤ € 43 m
Small < 50 ≤ € 10 m  ≤ € 10 m
Micro < 10 ≤ € 2 m  ≤ € 2 m

For more information on the current cut-off dates for 2016-2017 and the specific calls please check out the Factsheets below.

Factsheet 1: Clinical Validation of Biomarkers and Medical Devices (previously PHC12)
Factsheet 2: Cell Technologies

Note: It is important to note that the SME Instrument phase II for the Clinical Validation of Biomarkers and Medical Devices will only return once in 2017 and application for Phase I grants for the SMEs in the healthcare biotechnology sector will no longer be available in 2017 .

How to write a winning SME instrument grant proposal

Writing a convincing and appealing SME instrument proposal is of utmost importance in order to convince the European Commission to provide your company with the required funding to take your innovative idea to the next level. Within this article, we provide you with 5 essential tips that will help you to write a winning SME instrument proposal.

So many grants, too little time

Do you want to find the right information for applying to SME Instrument? Subcribe to our e-mailing and we will send you information about the grant and tips from our expert writers.


Patrick de Boer, MSc
+31 (0)653897487