Information for Newcomers
Why should I apply for SAE Funding
How does it work?
Who can apply for the Open Calls?
Eligible countries for Funding
Financial Support to Third Parties
Facts & Figures
Explanation of used acronyms
Competitive EC Calls
You are a European start-up, SME or mid-cap and would like to benefit from digital innovations to
- Upgrade your products or services
- Improve your processes or
- Adapt your business model to the digital age
then you probably need technical and financial support for your digital innovation activities.
Open Calls of the Smart Anything Everywhere Initiative
- Provide access to advanced digital technologies and competences
- Offer funding through the Innovation Actions especially for SMEs, ranging typically from 20.000 to 100.000 EUR
- Take funding decisions quickly (typically a few weeks)
Call for proposals in the areas (Innovation Action)
It is rather easy to apply for Funding when following the next steps:
- Check the Open Calls of the technology area you are in and find a suitable Open Call (click here)
- Follow the instructions given by the Innovation Action, they will also provide you with a proposal template and guidance through the application process
- Submit a description of your project idea (in English): How do your products, processes or services become more competitive through the adoption of latest digital technologies
- Submitted your project idea
- Innovation Action ranks submitted ideas following certain selection criteria such as “Concept & Technology”, “Business Model”, “Expected Impact” and “Exploitation Plan”
If your project idea is selected, the Innovation Action usually provides you with
- Digital technologies and competences to implement your idea
- Infrastructure to test your digital innovation in an application environment
- Financial support from the European Commission (Horizon2020)
Advantages for your as an SME
- The financial support through the new scheme “Financial Support to Third Parties”:
- This so-called “cascade funding” allows funds from the EU to be passed on to the SMEs directly by the Innovation Action, without entering into a complex contract with the European Commission
- Your company signs a lean contract with a representative of the Innovation Action
- Paper work is quite limited between 10 and 20 pages per application
Start-ups, SMEs as well as mid-caps can apply for the Open Calls if the fit into the given scheme.
What companies are able to participate in the Open Calls?
Tech (innovative companies) as well as non-tech companies (traditional companies) from various application domains are welcome to apply to the Open Calls e.g. Smart cities, smart transportation, smart health & well-being, smart agriculture, smart industry, smart energy, etc.
‘The category of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is made up of enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million.’
(Extract of Article 2 of the annex to Recommendation 2003/361/EC)
Click here to open the user guide to the SME definition
Commission recommendation of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises
(click here for the original recommendation)
From which countries are companies allowed to apply?
Legal entities established in the following countries and territories will be eligible to receive funding through Horizon 2020 grants:
- The Member States (MS) of the European Union (EU), including their outermost regions; the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) linked to the Member States:
Anguilla, Aruba, Bermuda, British Antartic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Territories , Greenland, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles (Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten), New Caledonia, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Barthélémy, Saint Helena, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Wallis and Futuna.
- The associated countries (AC): Association to Horizon 2020 is governed by Article 7 of the Horizon 2020 Regulation. Legal entities from Associated Countries can participate under the same conditions as legal entities from the Member States. Association to Horizon 2020 takes place through the conclusion of an International Agreement.
As of 01 January 2017, the following countries are associated to Horizon 2020 (see original document):
Iceland, Norway, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Israel, Moldova, Switzerland, Faroe Islands, Ukraine, Tunisia, Georgia, Armenia
- The latest information on which countries are associated, or in the process of association to Horizon 2020 can be found in the online manual (check page3/39 pdf document)
Financial Support to Third Parties also known as “Cascade Funding”
This funding scheme aims at simplifying the administrative procedures, creating a light, SME-friendly application scheme and is used by all Innovation Actions aligned to the SAE initiative. It offers the following advantages for SMEs:
- Funds from the EU passed on to the SMEs directly by the Innovation Action
- SMEs are not entering into a complex contract with the European Commission but
- Lean contract with a representative of the Innovation Action
Having completed phase 1 and phase 2 covering the years between 2015 and Q1 2020, it can be announced that
- 208 projects have been supported and cascade funded with more than 18 M€
- more than 25 countries were involved and
- around 30 open call / cut-off date calls were organized during that time
- with an average Success Rate of 20-25%
Q: What is SmartAnythingEverywhere all about?
A: The overall goal of Smart Anything Everywhere (SAE) is to let SMEs, start-ups and mid-caps enhance their products and services through the inclusion of innovative digital technologies. Further information on Learn more
Q: What is a Digital Innovation Hub (DIH)
A: DIHs support the faster adoption of latest digital technologies notably by SMEs, start-ups and mid-caps. They act as a one-stop-shop, providing customers with access to digital technologies and competences, infrastructure and training to test digital innovations, financing advice, market intelligence and networking opportunities (Link to a catalogue of European DIHs).
Q: What is stated in the Digitising European Industry initiative (DEI)?
A: The Digitising European Industry initiative (DEI) was launched by European Commission in April 2016 and it’s a key element of the Digital Single Market Strategy, which aims at reinforcing the European Union’s competitiveness in digital technologies and ensuring that business of any size, in any sector and country can fully benefit of digital innovation.
DEI will support and link up national initiatives and boost investment through strategic partnerships and networks and consist of five main pillars:
- European platform of national initiatives on digitising industry.
- Strengthening leadership through partnerships & industrial platforms.
- Digital innovations for all: Digital Innovation Hubs.
- A regulatory framework fit for the digital age.
- Preparing Europeans for the digital future. (Information by courtesy of I4MS)
- AENEAS: Association for European Nano Electronics Activities
An Industrial Association in Europe providing networking opportunities, policy influence and supported access to funding. Focus areas are micro- and nanoelectronics in in applications where Europe is strong, high growth rates are expected or a changing landscape opens new opportunities (Link to AENEAS Homepage)
- ARTEMIS / ARTEMIS-IA
AENEAS is one of three private members of the ECSEL JU. Advanced Research and Technology for Embedded Intelligence and Systems – Industry Association
An Industry Association in Europe with multidisciplinary nature providing a network for the exchange of technology ideas, cross-domain-fertilisation and large innovation ideas. Focus areas are embedded and cyber-physical systems, Internet of Things and digital platforms (Link to ARTEMIS-IA Homepage).
ARTEMIS-IA is one of three private members of the ECSEL JU.
- CLEC: Customized low-energy computing
- Coordination and Support Action(CSA)
A funding scheme for projects (“type of action”) without own research or development actions. CSA can concentrate on e.g. road mapping, networking, dissemination and exploitation activities or standardisation. The CSA aligned to the SAE initiative is Smart 4 Europe2.
- CPS: Cyber-Physical System
CPS link the “real” world (physical) with the world of information processing (cyber). Defining the term at the level of a simple FAQ is a huge task, so we refer to the Website of the European Commission.
Design and realisation of innovative CPS products are regarded as key enabling technology for digitisation.
- Digital Innovation Hub
DIHs support the faster adoption of latest digital technologies notably by SMEs, start-ups and mid-caps. They act as a one-stop-shop, providing customers with access to digital technologies and competences, infrastructure and training to test digital innovations, financing advice, market intelligence and networking opportunities (Link to a catalogue of European DIHs).
- ECSEL / ECSEL-JU: Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership – Joint Undertaking
ECSEL is an EU-driven, public-private partnership, empowering innovation in electronic components and systems. ESCEL is shaping digital innovation by funding research, development and innovation projects in key enabling technologies.
The private members of the partnership are AENEAS, ARTEMIS-IA and EPoSS (Link to ECSEL Homepage).
- EPoSS: European Technology Platform on Smart Systems Integration
A product and industry driven European Technology Platform, defining research and development and innovation needs as well as policy requirements related to Smart Systems Integration (Link to EPoSS Homepage).
- Horizon 2020: HORIZON 2020 is a research and innovation programme of the European Union (Link to the Participant Portal).
All projects aligned to the SAE initiative have received funding from the European Union´s HORIZON 2020 research and innovation programme.
- I4MS: ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs
I4MS is an initiative of the European Commission that is seen as key activity to invest in the establishment of Digital Innovation Hubs to foster European leadership in manufacturing. The I4MS initiative is characterised by many parallels to the SAE initiative (Link to I4MS Homepage).
- Innovation Action (IA): A funding scheme for projects (“type of action”) primarily consisting of activities directly aiming at production plans and arrangements or designs for new, altered or improved products, processes or services. Solutions shall be demonstrated in an operational (or near to operational) environment (i.e. high technology readiness level is required!).
The SAE initiative uses this type of action for eight running projects.
- ICT: Information and Communication Technologies
All projects aligned to the SAE initiative have received funding from the European Union´s HORIZON 2020 research and innovation programme via different ICT-calls (for open and upcoming calls see the Work Programme Part: Information and Communication Technologies).
- IoT: Internet of Things
The IoT is the vision of a network that might connect sensors, actuators, electronic devices and other items in an “internet”-like style, where every individual “thing” is intended to be identified by a unique address. Application specific variations address e.g. an “Industrial Internet of Things” (IIoT), “Smart” home, farming, medicine and so on.
- OLAE: Organic Large Area Electronics
Electronics made from organic materials (e.g. polymers) that show advantageous properties, e.g. the manufacturability of large area electronic components like displays.
OLAE as a part of materials science is regarded as key enabling technology for smart applications that can be used “everywhere”.
- SAE: Smart Anything Everywhere
Frequently used in the phrase „SAE initiative“. Smart Anything Everywhere is an initiative of the European Commission that is seen as key activity to invest in the establishment of Digital Innovation Hubs to accelerate the broad digital transformation of the European industry.
- SME: Smart and Medium-Sized Enterprises
Actually, SME is defined as the group of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. This group represents 99% of all business in the EU. The definition of an SME is important for access to finance and EU support programmes:
Head count < 250, Turnover ≤ € 50 million or Balance sheet total ≤ € 43 million.
- SSI: Smart Systems Integration
Smart Systems are self-sufficient intelligent technical systems (or subsystems) with advanced functionality, enabled by underlying micro- nano- and bio- systems and other components. SSI comprises all enabling technologies to develop, manufacture and integrate these systems.
Overview of all competitive calls and calls for third parties
Click here to open the overview