Frequently Asked Questions about EU Startup Services


What is EU-definition of SMEs (max. number of employees, revenue)?

The SME instrument is open to all companies meeting the definition of an SME. It has been particularly designed for Startups.  The Phase 1 is specially focused on funding feasibility studies including prototype development, i.e. helping startups develop of ideas into products.

Does the SME-instrument focus on already existing enterprises with good track record, the potential for growth and global relevance? What about very young StartUps without existing product yet, what are their chances?

The SME instrument is open to all companies meeting the definition of an SME. It has been particularly designed for StartUps.  The Phase 1 is specially focused on funding feasibility studies, including prototype development, i.e. helping StartUps develop of ideas into products.

If I decided to apply for the SME-instrument, what is asked for: Business and Financial plan for six months / application form? What else?

This is another objective of the workshop. We will help you understand what is required to write a successful proposal and train you on how to do it.

What are the most important criteria applying for “Phase 1″ to get in? What do the European Assessors look for (e.g. competition on the markets, technological USP, economical perspectives, business-Team)?

This is one of the objectives of the workshop. We will help you understand what is required to write a successful application and train you on how to do it.

How does a typical feasibility study looks like (interviews experiments, already prototype-testing)? Is it possible to give examples, though it will be different depending on the product?

This is one of the objectives of the workshop. We will help you understand what is required to write a successful application for your specific idea/product/and train you on how to do it.

What are the most important criteria to pass from Phase 1 to Phase 2? When do I have to apply for Phase 2/Phase 3)? What will be funded in Phase 2/Phase 3 (prototype)? Will the whole budget be covered by the SME-Instrument or do I need to pay parts on my own? What are the main criteria to pass in Phase 3?

The SME instrument has been designed specifically for single or groups of highly innovative SMEs with international ambitions, determined to turn strong, innovative business ideas into winners on the market. The instrument provides full-cycle business innovation support from the stage of business idea conception and planning (Phase 1) over business plan execution and demonstration (Phase 2) to commercialization (Phase 3). Participants will be able to call on business innovation coaching for the duration of their project.

  • Phase 1 (proof-of-concept): Explore the scientific or technical feasibility and commercial potential of your new idea in order to develop an innovation project, with the help of a € 50,000 grant, and receive more support in case of a positive outcome.
  • Phase 2 (development & demonstration): Develop your sound, ground-breaking business idea further with the help of a grant in the order of € 500,000 to 2, 5 million into a market-ready product, service or process.
  • Phase 3 (go-to-market): Take advantage of additional EU support to enter the market successfully (no grants).

On what depends how much money you get?

The stage of your StartUp (ideas, early stage, growth stage) and how well you can make your case by writing the grant proposal. This is what the workshop teaches you, all within one day!


When do I have to pay back the grant? Which part is not required to be paid back?

Compared to traditional investors from the private sector, EU funding does not require entrepreneurs to surrender any ownership of their idea or shares of their StartUp. Further, they do not need to offer any security or asset guarantees to access the funding, nor is there any interest charged. Finally, should the idea not work out or the Startup fail, no part of the funding needs to be paid back.


Some Do’s a d Don’ts

  • Dont’s

    Apply at Will: the most common is mistake is to apply at will to several instruments without understanding the intention and objective of those instruments vis a vis your Startup / SME’s innovation, objective, roadmap and needs. This results in a wasted time and effort and ultimately, frustration

    Apply while Unready: another common mistake is to apply just because you think you have a great idea or innovation or business plan and without the necessary supporting content and structure. Evaluators read such applications as ”great ideas” but unfortunately not elaborated and explained enough and hence not ready to be funded

    Overstate: on the other end of the spectrum, don’t overstate your objectives, expected impact and / or present a shortened roadmap to success in a bid to over impress the evaluators. The overall impression of your application must be that it is feasible, credible and that you know what you are doing, in particular the risks you face and how to deal with them and that you are not just a brilliant creative person and dreamer

    Mess-up the financials: entrepreneurs like to do things sharp and brief, including the financials! Winning proposals however do need to have the financial part correctly elaborated. This does not mean that we need a 10 page business plan, less is more indeed, but do make sure to include all the relevant information, particularly on costs.

    Apply in a Hurry: it’s important that the final package is completed and clean. From spelling and grammar, to headers to page numbers to figures to consistency checks, these little details do make a difference, so don’t wait till the last minute to submit in a rush, take the time to check and double-check your application before the final submit.

  • Do’s


    Match: be sure about which EU Funding scheme for Entrepreneurs. StartUps, SMEs are applicable for you based on the stage of your startup (ideas, early stage, growth stage), so that you apply at the right time, to the right instrument

    Prepare: collect and organise the information expected in the application, and how it must be structured so that when you are applying, you have all that you need, in the correct formats, ready to be packaged properly into a winning proposal

    Understand: understand clearly how EU funding works, the process and roadmaps and in particular what types of EU Funding schemes apply for Entrepreneurs, StartUps and SMEs, so you don’t waste your time on irrelevant instruments

    Write: Describe your idea, the innovation it represents, the business plan and the expected impact, correctly, comprehensively and in line with the expectations of the EU scheme, within the page limits, so that it meets all the checks and criteria the evaluators look for

    Package: Ensure that your application is correctly packaged, both in terms of the expected content and structure but also, most importantly, in terms of the overall flow and narrative, the story that you want to tell, that it’s coherent, consistent and credible from beginning to end