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FAQ: Prepare for a successful SME Instrument application

October 25 2017

To ensure a smooth and successful Horizon 2020 SME instrument application process, ttopstart has listed the most frequently asked questions that we have come across with our clients.

Does SME Instrument fund start-ups?

New start-ups (younger than 2 years, 0-2 fte) have been funded for both SME Phase 1 and 2 in the past. Although limited, some of these start-ups have managed to get funded. In section 4, where you discuss your company in more detail, there is a specific section dedicated to providing more information on this. We highly recommended using this for all recently established companies.

How are SME Instruments evaluated and scored?

SME instrument proposals are evaluated by four independent experts, on the basis of the award criteria “impact”, “excellence” and “quality and efficiency of the implementation”. For each criterion, evaluation scores are up to 5 points. The overall score of a proposal (Evaluation Summary Report, ESR score) is then calculated by adding up the median scores of all three criteria. This score serves to decide if proposals are above or below threshold (13 for Phase 1 and 12 for Phase 2). It should be noted that the ranking list is established based on the normalized score, which gives a weight of 1.5 to the score for the criterion “impact”. The normalized score is calculated by multiplying the “impact” by 1.5, plus score for “excellence”, plus score for “implementation”. Proposals are then selected for funding according to the available budget.

Can I resubmit my SME Instrument application?

An SME instrument proposal can be resubmitted and there is no limit on the number of times a proposal can be resubmitted. The proposal can be resubmitted with the same acronym and even without making any changes (although not recommended; see next question).

Are SME Instrument reviewers aware of the previous score in case of resubmission?

The moderator of the consensus group (i.e. group of the four individual experts) may give a copy of the previous ESR to the experts in case if the work program topics and criteria were comparable. It is thus highly recommended to improve sections that scored lower, either by presenting the content better or by making (slight) changes to your plans.

Will my chances reduce with the new Horizon 2020 work programme (2018-2020)? 

As extensively discussed in one of our previous news messages, the SME instrument funding scheme will undergo significant changes with the new work programme. Compared to previous work programmes, this work programme will benefit from a larger budget, it will shed its topic constraints (no longer will there be any set topics), and will mirror the private investment analysis of the business proposition (e.g. an in-person pitch is now part of the assessment). Chances will thus not necessarily reduce, especially since there will be more room for certain business cases that encountered fierce competition in the past. However, it should be noted that any type of business case can be submitted, which will most likely increase the total number of submitted proposals. It is good to note that the total available budget will increase, come January.

Request assistance

Are you interested in constructing strong and competitive SME instrument proposal or need help in writing an SME instrument proposal from scratch? Do not hesitate to contact us and see how we can help.

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