A European porgramme for facilitating the recruitment of PhDs by SMEs

Bérénice Kimpe

30.06 is the deadline to submit the application (10 pages) for the SME Innovation Associate call, the new initiative launched this year under Horizon 2020 by the EASME – the EU Agency for SME – to support the spin-in of specialised knowledge into small European companies.
An overall budget of 7.2 million euro will support the exploration of up to 90 innovative business ideas. The support will cover the costs of recruiting and training a top class researcher from all over the world for a period of 12 months.

The attractiveness of the programme is on the very early stage support provided, the openness to all sectors of business and the flexibility in terms of the assistance provided.
For the first time ever the European Union will support single enterprises selected on the basis of a business idea instead of mature projects submitted by complex international consortium. The SME Innovation Associate may be seen as an 'ideas check mechanism' which is a great opportunity for a company to submit a new business idea to an independent scientific evaluation before investing.

The call is open to all sectors of business without any restriction. A completely bottom-up approach that will benefit companies active in as many sectors as ICT, robotics, healthcare, chemicals, energy efficiency, buildings, agro food and more.

The last element is the flexibility, starting from the financial support provided. In fact the call is not prescriptive in terms of budget but leaves the company to evaluate the salary level needed to attract the required skills. This principle of self-evaluation also applies to the tailored trainings that the company is asked to develop in order to make the researcher fully operational.

Finally, if the costs related to the research position are eligible only from September 2017 and until August 2018, there is flexibility in relation to the starting date of the contract between the company and the researcher. In fact by taking the 'Fast Lane' companies willing to start working on their business ideas earlier than September 2017 are able to recruit as from March 2017 but at their own costs.

To conclude, the most convincing argument to take part in this pilot action is probably the fact that applicants are estimated to have one chance over three to be granted a support evaluated between 60.000 and 120-150.000 euro per project.

>> more information on the programme

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