The companies have been selected in the latest round of the SME Instrument, which is part of the recently launched European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. The funding of €12.65 million in total comes from Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme.
Examples of the projects selected to receive EU funding include solar street lights, software that uses augmented reality to help industrial plants monitor their production chain, a diagnosis tool for sleep apnoea, an innovative mobile payment technology, a custom-made paint vending machine, and a wrapping machine for sustainable packaging. In this phase of the SME Instrument (the so-called Phase 1), each project will receive €50 000 to draft a business plan. There are 253 projects in total as several companies can team up to propose one project. The companies will also get three days of free coaching and business acceleration services. Most companies selected for funding work in the field of health, engineering, and information and communication technology (ICT). Most companies are based in Spain (45), Italy (28), and Israel (23). The European Commission received 2009 proposals for this first Phase 1 cut-off of the SME Instrument this year. The next application deadline for SME Instrument Phase 1 is in May 2018.
The six funds will take stakes in a number of smaller investee funds and cover projects in at least four European countries each. These investee funds will help finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps from a range of sectors such as information and communication technologies (ICT), digital, life sciences, medical technologies, and resource and energy efficiency. The EU investment in Venture EU will be managed by the EIF under the supervision of the Commission and rolled out via six professional and experienced fund managers ensuring a fully market-driven approach.