The European Funds for Spanish companies

The European Commission has established as a priority the promotion of the competitiveness of R&D intensive SMEs in order to accelerate the arrival of highly innovative technologies and products to the market. Within the European initiatives for financing the development of technologies and products close to the market with a high degree of innovation, three instruments stand out, which have European funds for companies. In this article we will review each of them:

EIC Accelerator

The EIC Accelerator program, and its previous version SME Instrument, aims to promote those small and medium sized companies that want to lead their sector in Europe with an idea with great potential for innovation and growth. This instrument is one of the most successful in Spain and the country’s Europe thanks to its financing conditions: SME instrument supports 70% of the project budget is lost to SMEs (up to 2.5 million euros). In addition, and as a novelty, this program allows a capital contribution of up to 15 million Euros in Equity format after the completion of the
development. This Equity phase is designed to support R&D intensive SMEs in activities of scaling, internalization and access to large markets in order to to ensure their competitiveness and guarantee a return on investment. In fact, Spain is the country with the highest volume of companies benefiting from this subsidy. Since the start of the SME Facility phase 2 in 2015, until June 2020 the Program has financed 172 Spanish companies (17% of the total) In total the European Commission has invested more than 330 million euros in Spanish SMEs within the Instrument SMEs, mainly for ICT, Energy and Transport, and Health projects The work programme for the period (2021-2027) is expected to consolidate the mixed financing model (grant + equity) and even be eligible for equity financing only.

These changes aim to improve the competitiveness of European SMEs, as well as aligning with calls for equity-backed financing from risk or private investments, for which the investment process occurs from a very similar way.

Fast Track to Innovation:

The objective of this program is to accelerate the development and arrival to the market of innovative projects led by multidisciplinary consortia.
These open-ended business grants are aimed at companies that have the ambition to grow, develop and internationalize through a business project of European dimension. FTI aims to reduce the time to market of a product, service or process to less than three years. To this end, this program supports beneficiaries in validating their products, services or innovative business processes that have the potential to revolutionize existing markets or create completely new markets. The FTI program promotes the development of innovation activities close to the market and led by industry by providing non-refundable subsidies, 70% of the budget to companies and 100% to Technology Centers or Universities.

With a budget of 300 million Euros, the program aims to reward those innovation projects developed in collaboration between three and five entities The participation of the industrial sector is mandatory to ensure the rapid assimilation by the market. For this purpose, an allocation of at least 60% of the budget to the industrial participants in the consortium Since the beginning of FTI in 2015, until June 2020 the Program has funded 100 participating partners Spain (12.7% of the total), with a total subsidy of more than 48.5 million for Spanish partners.

EUROSTARS

EUROSTARS is a program to support R&D intensive SMEs in the development of market-oriented transnational projects. This funding program has the participation of up to 34 European countries that are members of the EUREKA network, and from 2016, Canada and South Africa will participate. The EUROSTARS budget for the period 2014-2020 is 1150 million Euros, of which 25% corresponds to the contribution of the European Commission, and the remaining 75% corresponds to contributions from EUROSTARS countries through their corresponding financial agencies, as is the case of CDTI in the case of Spain.

Since 2014, 1199 R&D projects have been financed for more than 177 million of euros, with a success rate of 28.5%. Regarding the typology of the participants, up to 72% corresponds to R&D intensive SMEs, which can participate universities, research centers and large companies, with a minimum of participation in consortium of at least two partners from two countries of the EUREKA network.

So far 197 projects have been funded with the participation of partners Spanish. The projects to be financed must involve clear technical disruption and have a clear market orientation, with a maximum of 2 years of market entry since the completion of the development project. This means that projects that are in a state of development will be funded technological corresponding to a TRL4-6 at the beginning of the project.

The project preparation process consists of the following steps:

1. Submission of applications, including a technical report segmented in the sections of excellence, implementation and marketing and market together with administrative documentation required by the EUREKA secretariat and the national funding agency.
2. European evaluation phase, including a technical assessment by an international panel of experts and an assessment of the financial capacity of the companies.
3. After passing the European assessment phase, each partner will apply its corresponding national financial agency, for the financing of its
corresponding part in the budget of the consortium.