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Evaluation criteria for SME Instrument Proposals

The SME Instrument proposals are evaluated by 4 external experts under three criteria: Excellence, Impact, Implementation.

Evaluation criteria SME InstrumentThe experts give scores on a scale of 0-5:

0 — The proposal fails to address the criterion or cannot be assessed due to missing or incomplete information.

1 — Poor. The criterion is inadequately addressed, or there are serious inherent weaknesses.

2 — Fair. The proposal broadly addresses the criterion, but there are significant weaknesses.

3 — Good. The proposal addresses the criterion well, but a number of shortcomings are present.

4 — Very Good. The proposal addresses the criterion very well, but a small number of shortcomings are present.

5 — Excellent. The proposal successfully addresses all relevant aspects of the criterion. Any shortcomings are minor.


  • SME Phase 1: The threshold for individual criteria is 4. The overall threshold, applying to the sum of the three individual scores, is 13. The Impact criterion has the highest weight of 1.5.
  • SME Phase 2: The threshold for individual criteria is 4. The overall threshold is 13. The Impact criterion is assigned a weight of 1.5.

Evaluation criteria

  1. Impact: This is the main evaluation criterion. For both SME instrument Phases 1 and 2 the score for the criterion ‘impact’ will be given a weight of 1.5.
  • The economic impact of the innovation on company growth and scalability
  • Convincing commercialisation plan
  • Potential to create new markets
  1. Excellence: The ‘excellence’ criterion focuses on the quality and specifically the disruptive nature of the innovation.
  • Game changing innovation that clearly advances beyond state-of-the-art
  • Clarity of the objectives
  • Realistic description of the current stage of development and feasibility of the innovation
  1. Implementation:
  • Quality and effectiveness of the work plan
  • Technical/scientific knowledge/management experience of the team
  • A good description of subcontracting is essential

For further information please consult the self-evaluation form on the Participant Portal.

Interview Dates

From 2018, the evaluation for the Phase 2 applications will also include a face-to-face interview in Brussels. The notification to attend the interview is usually at short notice, so please ensure that you are available for the following weeks if you submit an application to one of the cut-off dates in 2018:

  • interview week for 1st cut-off date: February 12-16;
  • interview week for 2nd cut-off date: April 16-20;
  • interview week for 3rd cut-off date: June 25-29;
  • interview week for 4th cut-off date: November 12-16.

Time to grant

The European Commission aims for a time to grant of 3 months for a Phase 1 application and 6 months for Phase 2.

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