Industrial Leadership

This pillar aims to speed up development of the technologies and innovations that will underpin tomorrow's businesses and help innovative European SMEs to grow into world-leading companies.

It consists of three specific objectives:

a) "Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies" supports research, development and demonstration and, on information and communications technology (ICT), nanotechnology, advanced materials, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and processing and space. Read more...
  b) "Access to risk finance" will aim to overcome deficits in the availability of debt and equity finance for R&D and innovation-driven companies and projects at all stages of development. Together with the equity instrument of the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (COSME) (2014 2020) it will support the development of Union-level venture capital. Read more...
c) "Innovation in SMEs" will provide SME-tailored support to stimulate all forms of innovation in SMEs, targeting those with the potential to grow and internationalise across the single market and beyond. Read more...

a) Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies

The emphasis for Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEIT) actions will be on:

  • Research and innovation to strengthen Europe's industrial capacities and business perspectives, including SMEs
  • Public-private partnerships (PPPs)
  • Cross-cutting KETs
  • Seizing the ICT opportunities
  • Contributions to solving Societal Challenges and to Focus Areas
  • Cross-cutting aspects, like international cooperation and responsible research and innovation.
The involvement of industrial participants, and of SMEs in particular, is crucial in maximising the expected impact of the actions.



Contractual Public-Private Partnerships (cPPPs)
They will be used extensively for the implementation and deployment of the KET. They will allow industry to directly participate in the definition and implementation of research and innovation priorities.

The three cPPPs for this part programme are:

European Green Vehicles Initiative (EGVI)

By LEIT Focus on:

  1. Information and Communication Technologie
  2. Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials Manufacturing and Processing, and Biotechnology
  3. Space

1.  Information and Communication Technologie

Six main activity lines have been identified in the ICT-LEIT part of the Work Programme:

  1. A new generation of components and systems
  2. Advanced Computing
  3. Future Internet
  4. Content technologies and information management
  5. Robotics
  6. Micro- and nano-electronic technologies, Photonics

In addition, the Work Programme features several cross-cutting topics addressing cyber-security, Internet of Things and research on a Human-centric Digital Age. All activities are complemented with support to innovation and take-up, international cooperation and a dedicated action for SMEs to propose bottom-up innovative ideas, using the SME instrument.


2. Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials Manufacturing and Processing, and Biotechnology

This part of the programme covers different areas:

Activities of the work programme will address the whole innovation chain with technology readiness levels spanning the crucial range from medium levels to high levels preceding mass production, and helping to bridge the gaps ("valley of death") in this range. These activities will be based on research and innovation agendas defined by industry and business, together with the research community, and have a strong focus on leveraging private sector investment.

  For the higher technology readiness levels, dedicated support will therefore be provided for larger-scale pilot lines and demonstrator projects to facilitate industrial take-up and commercialisation. There will be a strong focus on the contribution of Key Enabling Technologies to societal challenges.

3. Space

Space research has its main objective and challenge to foster a cost-effective competitive and innovative space industry (including SMEs) and research community to develop and exploit space infrastructure to meet future Union policy and societal needs.

The work programme has been structured to address these challenges by:
  • Prioritising the existing two EU Space flagships of European Global Navigation Satellite System (EGNSS) and Earth Observation reaping the benefits they can generate in the coming years and ensuring their state-of-the-art also in the future;
  • Ensuring support for the third  priority of the EU space policy: the protection of space infrastructure, and in particular the setting up of a Space Surveillance and Tracking system (SST) at European level;
  • Ensuring support to EU industry to meet the objectives defined in the Commission communication on Space Industrial Policy, notably to maintain and enhance industry’s competitiveness and its value-chain in the global market;
  • Ensuring that Europe’s investments made in space infrastructure are exploited to the benefit of citizens; as well as supporting European space science; and
  • Enhancing Europe’s standing as an attractive partner for international partnerships in space science and exploration.

b) Access to risk finance  

Under the 'Industrial Leadership' pillar, this section will help companies and other types of organisation engaged in research and innovation (R&I) to gain easier access, via financial instruments, to loans, guarantees, counter-guarantees and hybrid, mezzanine and equity finance.

  • Horizon 2020's financial instrument facilities will operate in conjunction with those of EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) on: SME Finance Initiative, launch of a pilot facility supporting the technology transfer process, and a new focus on improving access to risk finance by larger midcap firms.
  • Advice on how to make companies of all sizes, more attractive to banks and potential investors.
  • Debt and equity facilities.



Financial institutions
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) will play an important role, as entrusted entities, in implementing each financial instrument facility on behalf of and in partnership with the European Commission. For EIF, this role includes conducting calls for expressions of interest for selecting the financial intermediaries, such as banks and risk-capital funds, that will make the actual loans to or investments in SMEs and small midcaps.

While EIB will make large loans directly, it will also be able to use financial intermediaries as well, particularly when supporting medium and large midcaps. Exploratory talks with other financial institutions of comparable stature are underway, and in future one or more may join EIB and EIF in running facilities for the European Commission.

COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020 with a planned budget of €2.3bn. COSME will support SMEs in the following area:

  • Better access to finance
  • Access to markets
  • Supporting entrepreneurs
  • More favourable conditions for business creating and growth

Read more…

c) Innovation in SMEs 

Horizon 2020 actively supports SMEs by providing both direct financial support, and indirect support to increase their innovation capacity. 'Innovation in SMEs' aims at creating a bridge between the core of the framework programme - support to research, development and innovation projects - and the creation of a favourable ecosystem for SME innovation and growth. Overall budget: approx 251 million for 2014 and 264 million for 2015.

Main goal is to attract more SMEs to Horizon 2020, provide support to a wider range of innovation activities and help to increase the economic impact of project results by a company-focused and market-driven approach and to promote growth champions in all sectors. The SME instrument consists of three separate phases and a coaching and mentoring service for beneficiaries.

  1. Feasability study (6 months, funding lump sum of € 50.000)
  2. R&D / demonstration (12-24 months, funding max. 70% proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between € 0.5 and 2.5 million would allow phase 2 to be addressed appropriately)
  3. Commercialisation (support but no funding)

Subsidy for phase 1 and 2 can be granted to individual SMEs or a consortium of SMEs established in EU Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020 (described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme). Cooperation with other partners, in different countries is advised.




  • Only SME can apply for subsidy
  • In the case of two or more SMEs submitting a proposal, in line with the Rules for Participation and the Model Grant Agreement, participants are required to conclude a consortium agreement prior to grant agreement.
  • Projects are innovative internationally oriented and aim to implement high-risk and high-potential innovation ideas.
  • Projects with a European dimension that lead to radical changes in how business (product, processes, services, marketing etc.) is done.
  • The project will launch the company into new markets, promote growth, and create high return on investment.
'Innovation in SMEs' funds additional activities intended to support entrepreneurship, internationalisation, and improving access to markets (through the COSME program).

Furthermore, this challenge supports the second EUREKA/Eurostars Joint Programme Initiative (2014-2020), that provides funding for market-oriented transnational collaborative R&D projects. Eurostars pools together national resources, with the aim of strengthening integration and synchronization of national research programmes contributing to the achievement of a European Research Area.

Eurostars is a programme that supports research-performing small and medium enterprises, which develop innovative products, processes and services, to gain competitive advantage. Eurostars does this by providing funding for transnational innovation projects; the products of which are then rapidly commercialized. Read more...




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