General Information

Why should I apply for SAE Funding

You are a European start-up, SME or mid-cap and would like to benefit from digital innovations to

  • upgrade your products and 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 SmartAnythingEverywhere Initiative

  • provide access to advanced digital technologies and competences
  • Offer project funding ranging typically from 20.000 to 100.000 EUR
  • Take Funding decisions quickly (typically a few weeks)

Call for proposals in the areas (by project)

  • Customised Low Energy Computing powering Cyber-Physical Systems and IOT (SMART4ALL)
  • Cyber-physical and embedded systems (DigiFed, DIH4CPS, HUBCAP)
  • Flexible and wearable electronics (SmartEEs)
  • Widening (BOWI)

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 project (guidance and a proposal template are provided), which is in general to
  • 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 project ideas are ranked following selection criteria like concept & technology, business model, expected impact and exploitation plan

If your project idea is selected, you will get access to

  • 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 technology provider, without entering into a complex contract with the European Commission
  • Your company signs a lean contract with one of the technology providers
  • Paper work is quite limited between 10 and 20  pages per application
  • Criteria for evaluation is Excellence, Quality and Impact with a focus on sustainability/ business plan perspectives.

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.

Commission recommendation of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises
(click here for the original recommendation)

Click here to open the user guide to the SME definition


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.
Find here a list of countries eligible for funding.

Furthermore, legal entities from associated countries can participate under the same conditions as the member states.


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 offers the following advantages for SMEs:

  • Funds from the EU passed on to the SMEs directly by the technology provider
  • No entering into a complex contract with the European Commission
  • Lean contract with one of the technology providers


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%

Overview of all competitive calls and calls for third parties

Click here to open the overview