Catalonia, the first region in Europe attracting innovation resources for SMEs

31 May 2018

Catalonia is the European region that has attracted more resources from the European Commission for innovation projects from small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Specifically, 148 Catalan SMEs have obtained 61.9 million euros to carry out R+D and innovation projects, according to Catalonia Trade & Investment’s data based on the SME Instrument Data Hub. These are competitive funds collected between 2014 and 2017 from the SME Instrument as part of the Horizon 2020 program.

Therefore, Catalonia stands above the regions of South-east Ireland (50.2 ME), Madrid (48.3 ME), Lombardy (45.8 ME) and Île-de-France (35.5 ME), with a similar volume of funds attracted by countries such as the Netherlands (65.6 ME) or Finland (65.3 ME) and above other countries such as Ireland (59.1 ME) or Austria (24, 5 ME).





 (in million euros)





South-east Ireland











 SOURCE: Catalonia Trade & Investment based on SME Instrument Data Hub (2014-2017)


According to the CEO of Catalonia Trade & Investment, Joan Romero, "this highlights the high competitiveness of Catalan businesses, as these grants are accessed through a highly competitive programme". In fact, "Catalan SMEs have attracted 4.8% of the total, although Catalonia accounts for only 1.5% of the population of the European Union", he emphasizes. With regard to Spain, Catalonia has obtained 26.3% of the total funds.

The SME Instrument program of the European Commission promotes innovation projects with a high potential to grow internationally and has a global budget of 3,000 million euros up to 2020. This is one of the programs of the Horizon 2020 initiative, the largest one launched until now by the European Commission, which has about 80,000 million euros to promote research and innovation in Europe.

The SME Instrument, which began in 2014 - and is part of the European Innovation Council calls- will be extended at least until 2020 offering between 50,000 euros and 2,5 million euros for each company. With this help, and depending on the amounts received, the 148 Catalan SMEs that have obtained it have developed viability studies for their business plans during 6 months or have carried out the necessary pilot tests to bring their technology to the market.

To access this financing, Catalonia Trade & Investment -the Catalan Government agency for business competitiveness- has been appointed by the European Commission as the responsible body in Catalonia to analyse the projects’ innovation needs and to facilitate coaching services to help Catalan SMEs increase their access to market opportunities. Catalonia T&I offers this advisory service as a member of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), the organization that provides SMEs with information and advice regarding business policies and opportunities in EU countries.


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