Our Experience With Horizon2020 – SME Instrument

Tuesday, 28 July, 2015

We participated in Horizon2020, carried out by the European Commission with the goal of making good ideas market faster, create jobs and improve the quality of life in the European Union.

Research Program Horizon2020

For those of you who hear about Horizon2020 for the first time, it is a 7-year research program, simplified and easier to access. Bigger, simpler and smarter, EU is investing 80 billion Euros with financing ideas in becoming innovations. Read more about it.

SME Instrument – Open Disruptive Innovation

The Open and Disruptive Innovation scheme aims to foster the development of fast-growing, innovative SMEs with promising ideas bearing high disruptive potential in terms of products, services, models, and markets. This scheme is popular for ICT projects.

One of our internal ideas matched the scheme goals so we started researching and working on it with the help of a European Commission Evaluator, Ana Pavičić Kaselj from Frank Ventures. It sure sounded easy, a 10-page form to explain why your product is worth investing in.

Phase 1

We applied in Phase 1, where the Commission gives €50.000 for Feasibility study with the ultimate goal to put new products into the market. This includes activities such as risk assessment, design or market studies, and intellectual property exploration.

Duration: six months

Phase 2

If you have a product with a clear plan, market and sales strategy, you can apply to Phase 2, which finances prototyping, miniaturization, scaling-up, design, performance verification, testing, demonstration, development of pilot lines, validation for market replication, including other activities aimed at bringing innovation to investment readiness and maturity for market take-up with a sum of €500,000 – € 2.5 million or more (covering up to 70% of eligible costs, or in exceptional, specific cases up to 100%).

Duration: one to two years years

What makes this program great is the fact that you won’t waste time on paperwork, sending tons of papers in envelopes, reorganizing the budget when your project gets selected and so on. The process is really simple, all you need is a really innovative idea and someone to explain it well to the Commission.

We had certain misconceptions about this, due to a lack of experience:

Misconception #1

Limitation in the number of pages makes writing very hard. We spent endless hours in reorganizing sentences, to say more in less. And we thought; it’s just 10 pages, how hard can it be? Not easy at all.

Misconception #2

We had to forget all the things we worked so far, and with this I mean all eyes on product and research. This project does not allow multitasking we were used to.

Misconception #3

The form is ruthless, it easily makes you see what aspects you haven’t thought enough. And you think you have a product ready for financing. Yeah right. Think again what is the problem you are solving, who are your customers, what markets, costs, what is the final product price… These questions bring a lot of details you have to be sure in, or you won’t be able to convince Comission to finance your product.

Misconception #4

We planned our time well, but at the end we submit-ed our application in the last hour of the last day for submitting. Certain unexpected situations always come up (for example, online application form stops working at the worst possible moment). Pro tip: make sure you finish everything at least a day before the deadline.


In 2015 one project from Croatia was financed on Phase 1,  Company Rimac automobili and their Hybrid Battery Pack project, a unique electrical power source in a topic Stimulating the innovation potential of SMEs for a low carbon energy system. 

In this round of financing, the company Amphinicy Technologies was the only one that satisfied the criteria.

Our project was scored with 11,4/13 needed points. We are satisfied with the result considering our lack of experience, it surely mean we are on the right track. The evaluation scores will help us improve application and be ready for the next round of applications in September!

Sanja Radić

Sanja is a Project Manager. She graduated in Faculty of Economics in Osijek, specialized in Business Informatics. She loves social media, new technologies, journalism, blogging and travel.

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