Are you an innovative SME company interested in applying to the SME Instrument but feel insecure about which topic best fits your innovation project? Don’t worry! Below, you will find a short guide on how to choose the right topic in order to boost your chances to win the valuable EU-funding your company needs.
Define your innovation project
Choosing the right topic is crucial, as the correspondence of your proposed work in the project with the topic description is a criterion you must meet, when evaluators assess the excellence of your project. Moreover, in the application, you must show to what extent the project outputs will contribute to the expected impacts of the call and the relevant topic. (Read more about this in the self-evaluation form.)
“You must have a clear understanding of the technology behind your innovation and its area of application”
Before learning about the topics, you must first define your innovation project in terms of: type of innovation, type of technology and the area of application. For example, is your innovation a new product or service? Or maybe, it’s a new drug delivery method or perhaps, it’s a new business model of how to deliver and charge for given products and services? This information is of significant importance since it can help you choose the right topic. For instance, there are topics that specifically address business model innovation rather than product development.
You must have a clear understanding of the technology behind your innovation and its area of application since some calls are more specific than others. For instance, there is one topic supporting ICT solutions in general (the Open Disruptive Innovation Scheme), and another which also supports ICT solutions but within the area of Health, Well-Being and Ageing Well specifically.
Get familiar with the topic(s)
After you have identified the keywords of your innovation project, it’s time to start having a closer look at the topics. There are 13 topics to choose from in the 2016-2017 Work Programme for the SME Instrument call. A list and description of them all can be found here: Work Programme 2016-2017 for the SME instrument.
Begin with scanning the titles of the topics. Is there any title that catches your eye and contains one or several of the keywords you have defined? Most times, it is obvious which topic to choose, but occasionally it can be a bit tricky to frame which topic you should go for. Once you have made your choice of one or more topics that seem fitting or convenient, it’s time to get to know them more closely.
“One of the biggest traps for applicants is their failing to address the scope of the call and the specific challenge(s) highlighted in the given topic”
Highlight all the important keywords
One of the biggest traps for applicants is their failing to address the scope of the call and the specific challenge(s) highlighted in the given topic. It is important to identify which challenges must be addressed and what impacts must be made within both the overall call and the chosen topic.
Start by printing out the description of the call (you can find a nutshell description of the SME Instrument call here) and the topic(s) of interest. Read them through once or twice, then highlight all the important keywords reflecting the challenges that must be addressed and the impacts required by the European Commission. Ultimately, choose the one which corresponds more to the challenges you meet and expected impacts you envisage.
Emma Johannisson, Research and Innovation Funding Specialist, GAEU Consulting