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Capacity-building for National Contact Points (NCPs) for SMEs and Access to Risk Finance under Horizon 2020
Deadline: Jan 19, 2016  

 Entrepreneurship and SMEs
 International Cooperation
 Horizon Europe

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Facilitate trans-national co-operation between NCPs focused on the Horizon 2020 specific objective "Innovation in SMEs" and "Access to Risk Finance" – including those established in countries associated with Horizon 2020 and interested third countries – with a view to identifying and sharing good practices and raising the general standard of support to programme applicants, taking into account the diversity of the research and innovation-driven SME community, and complementarity with other support entities and networks, for instance the Enterprise Europe Network.


Support will be given to a consortium of formally nominated NCPs in the areas of "Innovation in SMEs" and "Access to Risk Finance", and support to SMEs in Horizon 2020 at large. The activities should be tailored according to the nature of the areas, and the priorities of the NCPs concerned. Various mechanisms may be included, such as benchmarking, joint workshops, enhanced cross-border brokerage events, and specific training sessions linked to Access to Risk Finance, Innovation in SMEs and SMEs in Horizon 2020. Special attention should be given to enhance the competence of NCPs, including helping less experienced NCPs rapidly acquire the know-how accumulated in other countries.

The focus throughout should be on issues specific to "Innovation in SMEs" and "Access to Risk Finance" and supporting SMEs in optimising participation to Horizon 2020, while ensuring complementarity with activities of other NCP networks and the Enterprise Europe Network in the domain of SME support. The project should promote coordination with other NCP thematic networks, in particular in relation to the NCP network project for quality standards and horizontal issues. The proposal should show how this will be achieved.

Only NCPs who have been officially appointed by the relevant national authorities are eligible to participate in and receive funding for this action. In line with the objectives of the EU strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, participation of NCPs from third countries is welcome.

The consortium should have a good representation of experienced and less experienced NCPs. Submission of a single proposal is encouraged. NCPs from EU Member States or Associated Countries choosing not to participate as a member of the consortium should be identified and the reason explained in the proposal. These NCPs are nevertheless invited and encouraged to participate in the project activities (e.g. workshops), and the costs incurred by the consortium for such participation (e.g. travel costs paid by the consortium) may be included in the estimated budget and be eligible for funding by the Commission.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

The Commission will only fund one proposal under this topic, for an initial duration of 30 months.

Expected Impact:
  • An improved and professionalised NCP service across Europe, thereby helping simplify access to Horizon 2020 calls, lowering the entry barriers for newcomers, and raising the average quality of proposals submitted.
  • A more consistent level of NCP support services across Europe and in connection with the rest of the world.
Delegation Exception Footnote:

This activity directly aimed at supporting National Contact Points is excluded from the delegation to EASME and will be implemented by the Commission services.

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