The Report on the Assessment of the Performance of the First Finalised Phase II Projects measured the performance of 70 companies that have finished their SME Instrument project and concluded that two out of three of the funded companies have put their innovation out on the market and met commercial success thanks to the grant. The independent report found that the SME Instrument delivers growth and market creation with large spill-over effects on society – all thanks to its flexible grant scheme, its exclusive acceleration support and its unique design.
The SME Instrument has generated an increase in turnover in 2 out of 3 companies, all of which have created jobs following the grant, according to the report. In addition, the SME Instrument strongly facilitates the investment process by minimising the risk for private investors and by its unique networking effects. Despite the short time-span following the funding, 27% of companies reached a highly positive commercial success, usually illustrated by outstanding market performance or additional funds raised from investors (venture capital, acquisitions, IPOs etc.) following the Phase 2 support. In addition, another 31.4% have reached the market, an achievement that was the target of the Phase 2 grant, but don’t show outstanding commercial results yet, albeit promising signs.
Overall the SME Instrument played a critical role in supporting small innovative companies in the demonstration phase of their technology, says the report. This long and costly stage is what gets many start-ups stuck in the “Valley of Death” – the difficulty to recover negative cash flow in the early stages of commercialisation before the product sales bring real revenue. The reasons for this are mostly that the SME Instrument grant helps accelerate technology development and builds the capacity of the funded companies to deploy their innovation on the market. The SME Instrument funding also helped the companies secure the necessary investments, the human capital or the equipment to develop their technology and get it onto the market. Companies could also build demand capacity and secure intellectual property rights thanks to the funding.
The SME Instrument has a unique “label effect”. EU branding and the programme’s notorious competitiveness is a real European added value. The programme has an international reach targeting international markets compared to other public funding schemes that stick to the local or regional level.
The full report is available at https://ec.europa.eu/easme/sites/easme-site/files/sme-i_assessment_report_final.pdf