The lack of access to skills, latest knowledge and the capacity to manage innovation processes effectively have been identified as major barriers for innovation in SMEs.

As a continuation of a pilot action of the "Innovation in SMEs" work programme 2016-2017, the European Commission has published a new call: SMEs can now apply for funding in a new Horizon 2020 Innovation Associate programme. This capacity building action provides a grant at European level to visionary SMEs that can demonstrate that the skills required for a particular innovation idea are not within reach for them at national level (for example because the required skills are not available or not affordable for them).

The selected SMEs are supported to employ a highly skilled experienced researcher (referred to as an 'innovation associate') for a continuous period of one year. The associate's task will be to explore, during the course of his/her contract, the potential of their innovative idea and turn it into an innovation project

The whole indicative budget of € 4 million is intended to support a total number of 115 assignments. These will be spread over two cut-offs, one for projects starting in 2019 and one for projects starting in 2020.

Proposals must be submitted electronically using the submission system of the Participant Portal. Please that if you want to participate in a project proposal, your organisation needs to be registered in the Beneficiary Register of the Participant Portal and have a 9-digit Participant Identification Code (PIC).

The application deadline is 15 January 2020.