Who are the SME Instrument Innovators?


We get a lot of questions from curious entrepreneurs, puzzled by the sheer amount of information and the complexity of the EU Funded Programmes. One of the most common questions we receive is whether the SME Instrument prefers certain industries, stages of growth or certain countries. The answer is: it depends.

First of all, it would be good to have a general look at ‘Who are the SME Instrument Innovators?’ A report from the European Commission on “Accelerating Innovation in Europe” offers us some interesting data.

The report shows that the SME Instrument has attracted both young, market challenging startups aiming for fast scale-up as well as family businesses existing since many years, where the new generation of owners bet on innovation to remain competitive.

Take a look at the main data we extracted from the report:

  • 47% of all SMEs participating in the SME Instrument come from Spain, Italy and UK while SMEs from Iceland, Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden are the most effective in applying for the Programme;
  • SME Instrument geographical distribution matches main innovation hubs in Europe;
  • Each year SME Instrument attracts more and more micro companies (less than 10 employees) that represent 50% of funded companies;
  • Each year SME Instrument attracts more and more startups (less than 6 years old companies) which overall represent 50% of SMEs;
  • 22% of SMEs are in an up scaling stage, already conquering new markets;
  • Most funded companies are active in medical/healthcare and cleantech industries;
  • 77% of SME Instrument companies address B2B users.


We hope we have encouraged you to further explore the possibility of applying to the SME Instrument.

In the past 2 years, more than 2000 startups have been funded through the SME Instrument. The results clearly show that being funded from the SME Instrument has a net positive effect on your startup.

Contact us if you have any questions related to your application. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, check out our free eligibility check tool from EU Startup Services.

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