SMEs urged to grab slice of £2.5 billion funding pot

Small and medium sized businesses across the UK are being urged to apply for access to a new European Union funding pot.


The fund – totalling £2.5 billion – became available at the turn of the year and is part of the research and development programme named Horizon 2020.


It is available to SMEs wishing to aid product development, with individual businesses able to apply for up to £2.5 million.


According to support organisation Pera Technology, this represents an unprecedented level of support for businesses and is part of a European-wide drive to boost the economy.


Horizon 2020 does not require SMEs to join larger consortiums in order to apply and the application process has been simplified.


The European Commission is obliged to respond to funding applications within six months of submission so that support can be provided as quickly as possible.


This level of support is a major boost to some UK SMEs as it offers an escape route from the need for possible insolvency or company administration measures.


“Never before has this level of funding been made available to small and medium sized business for new product development purposes,” explained Paul Tranter, chief executive of Pera Technology.


“One of the key differences between Horizon 2020, its predecessors and other public funding options is its commercial awareness.


“SMEs receive all of the money to spend as they see fit with a further 15 days of free coaching paid for directly by the European Commission.”


Pera Technology works specifically in product development and Mr. Tranter explained it is those products with clear commercial potential that are most likely to receive funding.


However, he also explained that additional funding would be available for initial research purposes if some SMEs were not in a position to have products ready for market.


As a result, SMEs can receive financial support and expertise that can help develop their businesses during 2014.


By Phil Smith


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