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Special Report 02/2020: The SME Instrument in action: an effective and innovative programme facing challenges

English icpdf.png 2 MB
22/01/2020

With €3 billion for 2014-2020, the EU’s SME instrument strives to support innovation in SMEs and start-ups by filling the gap in funding and increasing commercialisation of research results.

We assessed whether the SME instrument delivers the expected benefits.

Overall, we concluded that it provides effective assistance to SMEs in developing their innovation projects and that having the EU branding helps companies to attract additional investment. The Commission competently manages the instrument. However, we recommend improving the targeting of beneficiaries, the geographical outreach and the selection of projects. Also, more can be done to attract additional funding that would help bring innovation projects to market.

As the SME Instrument has been redesigned for 2021-2027 as part of the European Innovation Council (EIC), we make recommendations in particular for preserving aspects of its design, improving project selection, enhancing business acceleration services and creating synergies with other financial instruments.

ECA special report pursuant to Article 287(4), second subparagraph, TFEU.