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Research and innovation

Seal of Excellence opportunities - EIC Accelerator

National funding opportunities for Seal of Excellence holders in the area of the EIC Accelerator (formerly the SME Instrument)

National implementation of the Seal of Excellence

Implementation of the Seal of Excellence is on a voluntary basis. It is up to each country or region to establish supporting funding schemes which are specifically dedicated to Seal of Excellence proposals and provide alternative funding, in compliance with national and European rules.

Many national and regional managing authorities already implemented Seal of Excellence schemes and below you can find open as well as past opportunities.

Cyprus

Horizon 2020 - 2nd Opportunity under the RESTART 2016-2020 funding scheme

The Cyprus Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF) is responsible for the Horizon 2020 - 2nd Opportunity under the RESTART 2016-2020 programme.

The call for proposals for this national funding scheme was announced on 16 September 2016 with a budget of EUR 5 500 000. An additional budget of EUR 4 710 000 was announced in April 2020 after the exhaustion of the initial available budget.

The selection process is based on a first-come-first-served basis. The maximum funding per project equals EUR 50 000 for SME Instrument Phase 1 and EUR 700 000 for SME Instrument Phase 2.

Overall, the different Seal support schemes implemented by the RIF approved 4 projects under SME Instrument Phase 1 projects and 6 projects under SME Instrument Phase 2.

More information is available in the “HORIZON 2020 - 2nd Opportunity” Programme description, in the RESTART 2016-2020 Work Programme (in English).

France

New Seal of Excellence working group by French Clusters to support SMEs (closed)

13 September 2016

The French Association of Innovative Clusters (AFPC) recently launched a working group on the Seal of Excellence. The AFPC represents the interests of more than 50 clusters and their members to French and European authorities.

The Seal of Excellence working group will investigate alternative funding possibilities for their SME members, help them navigate the funding landscape and stay involved in European projects.

Afterwards, the French working group will be happy to share its findings and create exchanges with other European intermediary bodies interested in the implementation of the Seal of Excellence. 

More information

French innovation advisors believe in the Seal of Excellence (closed)

10 June 2016

The French Association des Conseils en Innovation, representing 70 advisors committed to enhance innovation, is organising a large conference devoted to the implementation of regional innovation strategies and the Seal of Excellence initiative.

It encouraged policymakers to actively implement the Seal of Excellence initiative with full support of consultant organisations who can play a major role in supporting regions and cities from a European perspective.

Sharing experiences between numerous public and private partners acting in French regions and cities is therefore welcomed. The conference was organised in cooperation with the Auvergne Rhône Alpes region.

Greece

Projects awarded to SoE holders, originating from SMEI proposals (2020)

On March 2019, the Ministry of Economy and Development of the Greek Republic issued a call for proposals under the funding scheme ‘Research – Create – Innovate’, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Greek state as part of Greece’s operational programme 'Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation (2014-2020)', with a total budget of € 542,5 million.

The call for proposals has four modules. The fourth module is addressed to innovative Greek SMEs that have submitted a proposal in the framework of the H2020 SME Instrument, which proposal has been awarded the Seal of Excellence.

Twenty five (25) projects of 28 Greek SMEs – holders of Seal of Excellence are co-financed today (as of July 2020), with a total public budget of 13.1 m€. Thirteen (13) projects originate from Phase I SMEI proposals, while twelve (12) projects originate from Phase II SMEI proposals.

Thematic concentration:

  • materials 3
  • tourism, culture & creative industries 3
  • agrofood 1
  • health and pharma 4
  • transport & logistics 1
  • energy 4
  • ICT 9

For more info, please contact the Management and Implementation Authority for Research, Technological Development and Innovation Actions (MIA RTDI - EYDE ETAK).

Lithuania

SME Instrument Phase 1 Support Scheme (closed)

A novel voucher scheme was launched in 2018 for SME instrument Phase 1 proposals. This Lithuanian scheme is a concrete example of operational synergies between Horizon 2020 and the European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF).

MITA, the Lithuanian Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology, has implemented Seal of Excellence friendly actions Programme and offered the possibility for funding SMEs that submitted high quality project proposals under H2020 but were not funded due to the lack of available budget.

The Seal of Excellence support scheme implemented in Lithuania was launched on 27 April 2018 and ended on 7 January 2020.

The overall budget allocated was EUR 500 000. 14 proposals with Seal of Excellence were funded on a first-in-first-served basis.

More information (in Lithuanian).

Slovakia

State aid scheme for support of projects awarded a Seal of Excellence quality label

On 4 May 2021, the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic launched two calls (with the same conditions) for EIC Accelerator Pilot Seal of Excellence holders. One of the calls is focused on the support of projects implemented in the Bratislava region (more developed region), while the other one focuses on the support of projects implemented in other regions of Slovakia (less developed regions).

The budget allocated is of EUR 31 100 000 and 17 Seal projects were eligible to be supported within this scheme. The calls are open and will be closed when all eligible SoE holders submit their proposals or cancel the interest to ask for the support.

On 25 June 2018, the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic had launched two similar calls to support over 12 holders in SME Instrument Phase 1. Both calls closed on 31 December 2020, with a total budget allocation of EUR 2 050 000. Overall, 38 projects have been supported from this scheme.

More information (in Slovak).

Spain

Support of SME Instrument Phase 1 – Seal of Excellence holders (closed)

The CDTI, Spanish Innovation Agency, has published three calls (status now closed) targeting Seal holders of SME instrument, Phase 1, under the HORIZONTE PYME’ Programme (Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial):

  • HPYME 2015 (Pilot): EUR 8.5 million – 141 Seals funded
  • HPYME 2016: EUR 3.7 million – 48 Seals funded
  • HPYME 2017: EUR 3 million – 63 Seals funded

The HPYME programme offered a clear added value to national and regional authorities as a reliable selection of promising companies with international ambition, meriting an European funding but unable to be funded by the EU budget, but still worth to be supported.

Overall, the Spanish National Scheme’s allocated budget of EUR 15.2 million and funded 252 Seal of Excellence projects.

More information (in Spanish).

Funding available for Seal of Excellence holders in Asturias

SMEs based in the Spanish Region of Asturias that received the Seal of Excellence for Phase 1 of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument were able to apply for a regional grant.

The grant would partially finance the requested budget but no more than EUR 60 000. The ceiling for the co-financing rate on eligible expenditure is 70%. Applications were open until 3 November 2020.

More information (in Spanish).

Sweden

Building on the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument to support innovation champions (closed)

VINNOVA believes it's very important to encourage Swedish SMEs to apply for EU funding.

So, the agency has established the Runner-up programme. The programme is funded nationally and targeted exclusively at positively evaluated proposals under Horizon 2020.

When results of phase 1 of the SME Instrument are published on the Horizon 2020 website, VINNOVA invites companies that have scored 13 or above, to apply for the Runner-up programme.

Applicants receive a link to a simplified application form, requiring a summary of the project and a budget, supplemented by the original Horizon 2020 SME Instrument application and its Evaluation Summary Report. Applicants also need a statement confirming they are not above the limits of the de minimis rule under state aid.

VINNOVA accepts the outcome of the Horizon 2020 evaluation and applications are not evaluated for a second time. After the proposal has been granted funding, the project will follow the same rules and reporting as all the other projects supported by VINNOVA.

VINNOVA also has an agreement with the Enterprise Europe Network (co-funded by the COSME programme) that SMEs awarded funding from the Runner-up programme will receive coaching from the Enterprise Europe Network managament capacity team.

A support office is also financed by VINNOVA and Tillväxtverket - the Agency for Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth Finance. The office helps all SMEs that want to participate in an application to Horizon 2020.

More Information

Archived schemes

Czechia

National scheme for SME Instrument - phase 1 holders in  Czechia

10 April 2017

First call for SME Instrument - phase 1 Seal of Excellence holders from the Czechia to apply for funding. The technology agency of the Czech Republic will finance projects in the frame of the GAMA programme with a maximum of 55% of the total costs. Seal of Excellence holders from the 2016 cut-off dates and the first 2017 cut-off date were eligible. The call closed on 2 May 2017. 

Seal of Excellence holders from South Moravian region of Czechia invited to apply to SME Instrument Brno programme (closed)

5 September 2016

Brno City Municipality invites Seal of Excellence holders who submitted to Phase 1 of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument and who are located in the South Moravian region of Czechia, to apply the SME Instrument Brno programme. Successful applicants will receive a grant of €50,000 in addition to business coaching. This will help them develop feasibility studies and create a market validation plan.

France

New opportunities for Phase 2 Seal of Excellence holders in Ile de France (closed)

15 December 2016

The French region started implementing the Seal of Excellence through its ERDF-ESF Regional Operational programme 2014-2020 by opening the eligibility to the annual call for RDI projects to those regional SMEs that have been granted the Seal of Excellence. The first call closed on 31 January 2017. 

Germany

Business Support Opportunity for Seal of Excellence Holders (closed)

12 December 2016

Young Seal of Excellence start-ups were invited to apply for the German Climate-KIC accelerator to receive support for developing their business. The Seal of Excellence standard would be favoured in the applicant review process as it indicates the high quality level. The start-ups should have a commercially viable and scalable business model with a clear and demonstrable climate impact. Support is provided to high-tech, young start-ups in the fields of renewable energy, resource and energy efficiency, mobility or other green sectors. Application deadline was 6 February 2017.

First steps of seal implementation in Germany (closed)

22 September 2016

The European Investment Fund states that the Seal of Excellence proves SMEs are innovative.  This means that companies with the Commission's Seal of Excellence can apply for the InnovFin SME guarantee Facility. The InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility will be set up by eligible local banks, leasing companies, guarantee institutions, etc. which are selected after the launch of a call for expression of interest. Once selected by the EIF, these local partners act as financial intermediaries.

Italy

Advantage for Seal of Excellence SMEs when applying to Friuli-Venezia Giulia region support scheme

10 April 2017

The regional scheme supports Seal of Excellence holders within existing calls for proposals by giving SoE SMEs additional marks in the evaluation. The 3 calls are detailed below. Innovation in specialised areas: agrifood, strategic industrial clusters, maritime technologies or smart health. Cooperation in the fields of industrial research and experimental development. Specialisation areas include agrifood or strategic industrial clusters Public and private partnerships. Call for proposals for standard and strategic projects in the  specialisation areas of smart health and maritime technologies.

Italian Ministry of Economic Affairs published call to co-fund Seal of Excellence Phase 2 proposals with ESI Funds in southern regions (closed)

17 July 2016

The Italian Ministry of Economic Affairs published a call for proposals which included among others funding for Seal of Excellence SME Instrument Phase 2 proposals. The funding was reserved to SME Instrument proposals which received the Seal of Excellence, The call would only fund  proposals submitted to Phase 2 of the SME Instrument. Eligible proposals are the ones which have been submitted by SMEs located in less developed regions (Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Puglia e Sicilia) and regions in transition (Abruzzo, Molise e Sardegna). The call was launched in the framework of the Operational Programme Competitiveness which is co-funded by the European Structural and Investments Funds (ESIFunds).

Open call for SME Instrument Phase 1 Seal holders in the Lombardy region

22 September 2017

The region of Lombardy renewed its scheme for SME Instrument Phase 1 Seal of Excellence holders who were awarded between the September 2016 and September 2017 cut-off. SMEs were able to apply under the regional research and innovation call Innodriver (Misura B), submitting the same Horizon 2020 SME Instrument proposal, the seal certificate and the evaluation summary report. The grant of €30,000 was intended to support the further development of the business plan and related feasibility activities. Deadline for application was October 31st 2017.

Funding available for Seal of Excellence holders in Italian Marche Region

1 March 2017

SMEs who received the Seal of Excellence for Phase 2 of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument and are based in the Italian Marche Region can now apply for a regional grant. The project needs to be in line with the regional Smart Specialisation strategy, has to start 30 days after the funding request and the duration should not exceed 24 months in total. Applications open on 2 May 2017 at 09:00.

Opportunities for Seal of Excellence Phase 2 proposals in Regione Piemonte with ERDF Regional Programme (closed)

16 November 2016

Regione Piemonte published a call for proposals which includes among others funding for Seal of Excellence SME Instrument Phase 2 proposals. The call was launched in the framework of the regional operational programme co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and supported experimental development and industrial research projects submitted by companies associated to the Piedmont Innovation Clusters.

Poland

New series of workshops for Polish Seal of Excellence holders (closed)

27 October 2016

The Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) organised a series of workshops in November and December 2016 for Polish Seal of Excellence holders who submitted to Phase I of the SME Instrument. This scheme was developed under the policy lab which is a part of the inno_LAB project, launched in partnership with the Polish Ministry of Economic Development.

Slovenia

Phase 2

Seal of Excellence holders for Phase 2 based in Slovenia were offered co-funding by the executive agency Spirit with an overall budget of 17.075.000 EUR. The same categories of costs were considered eligible as in the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2. There was no re-evaluation of project proposals as only previous assessment by the European Commission were taken into account. Throughout the entire duration of the call there were three deadlines for submission of project proposals: 29 September 2017, 12 September 2018 and 12 September 2019. A total of 13 projects were supported with 14.171.835,02 EUR funds approved.

Phase 1

SME Instrument Phase 1 Seal of Excellence holders located in Slovenia were offered a €35,000 lump sum to co-finance their feasibility studies by the executive agency Spirit with an overall budget of 1.050.000 EUR. There was no re-evaluation of project proposals as only previous assessment by the European Commission were taken into account. Throughout the entire duration of the call there were four deadlines for submission of project proposals: 13 January 2017, 15 May 2017, 2018 and 2019. A total of 19 projects were supported with 665.000 EUR funds approved.

Spain

Financial aid for Seal of Excellence holders from Madrid (closed)

14 December 2016

The Community of Madrid grants financial aid for Seal of Excellence holders from Phase 2 of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument. Mono-beneficiary Seal of Excellence holders who did not yet receive funding in the regional priority areas i.e. nanotechnology, advanced materials, industrial and space technologies; health, biotechnology, water and agri-food; energy, environment and transport (including aeronautics) and ICT. This aid is funded by the ESI Funds and will be available until funds run out.