May 2016.- Catalonia is receiving the most amount of European innovation funding for small and medium sized companies within Spain. Catalan firms have received €29M of funding from the SME Instrument programme, a European Commission programme designed specifically for SMEs.
Catalonia holds first place with 79 projects financed, followed by Madrid (59) and Valencia (56). In total, 71 Catalan firms have received funding, a number higher than that seen in countries such as Israel, Denmark or Sweden. These figures cover the period from 2014 – the year the programme was set up – up to the end of April, 2016.
The SME Instrument supports innovation projects with a high international growth potential, and has a global budget of €3,000M until the year 2020. This is one of the programmes of the global Horizon 2020 plan, the largest put into practice by the European Commission so far, with a budget of some €80,000M to encourage research and innovation in Europe. As a matter of fact, Catalonia also heads the list for European Horizon 2020 grants within Spain, with a total of €310M for the 2014-2015 period, 28.1% of all received. (ojo, la fecha en el texto original el año era 2024 en vez de 2014).
The SME Instrument has financed 79 projects with non-repayable sums that range from €50,000 to €2.5M. A total of 57 projects have obtained grants of €50,000 to develop viability studies on their business plan for six months and, on the other hand, 22 other projects have received between €1M and €2.5M to carry out innovation and development activity and to perform pilot programmes necessary to bring their technology to market.
To access this funding, ACCIÓ – the public agency for competitiveness in Catalan companies – has become a key partner for Catalan businesses, thanks to the advisory and training services it offers to help companies present to the different programmes.
Núria Betriu, Director-General for Industry, emphasises that, “to access this funding, our companies have to compete with major European proposals”. She goes on to say that, “this instrument allows SMEs to present their own projects individually, without the need to create consortiums with other companies”.