SMEs interested in testing and implementing digital innovations can apply to open calls from EU projects related to Digital Innovation Hubs
These hubs act as one-stop-shops where companies, especially SMEs and start-ups, can get access to technology-testing, financing advice, market intelligence and networking opportunities.
The EU SME Strategy
for a sustainable and digital Europe, launched in March 2020, aims to create more DIHs, accelerate growth of high tech SMEs and provide them with information on solutions to sustainability challenges.
There are also opportunities being created through the European Green Deal,
the EU’s roadmap for tackling climate change and making the economy sustainable.
The Green Action Plan
(GAP) has been set up to help SMEs take advantage of these new opportunities being created by the EU’s transition to a green economy.
Start-up and develop
If you’re just starting out with a small business venture you might be able to take part in the EU’s young entrepreneur exchange scheme.
Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs
is a cross-border exchange programme that gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other Member States.
Businesses looking to grow and develop need to be familiar with consumer regulation
as it boosts confidence and trust in products and services as well as encouraging spending.
To help businesses comply with EU and national consumer law, the European Commission has set up the Consumer Law Ready
Entrepreneurs or SME staff can learn how to provide the key pieces of information that must be given to consumers before a sale or contract is completed.
This helps businesses that are unsuccessful in a funding application to understand their financial position and see how they might get financed in the future. The European Commission website has links to institutions
where Irish businesses of all sizes can apply for capital.
Europe’s programme for SMEs, COSME,
is also designed to make it easier to access finance in all phases of business development, from creation to expansion.
Innovative Irish companies can also apply for EU funding and support for breakthrough projects with a market-creating potential under the EIC Accelerator
(previously called the SME Instrument).
The EIC Accelerator allows Europe's brightest and boldest entrepreneurs to step forward and request funding for breakthrough ideas with the potential to create new markets or revolutionise existing ones.
The European Fund for Strategic Investments(link is external) (EFSI) has a dedicated SME window offering up to a total of €5.5 billion of either funding resources or guarantee capacity.
Financing tools and advisory services for innovators are also provided by InnovFin,
a joint initiative launched by the European Investment Bank Group
(EIB) and EIF
in cooperation with the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation.
The Employment and Social Innovation
(EaSI) programme is another EU financing instrument that’s designed to combat social exclusion and poverty by supporting vulnerable groups, micro-enterprises and social enterprises.