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.
  • SME Phase 2: The threshold for impact is 4. The threshold for the other 2 criteria is 3. The overall threshold is 12.

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 to determine the ranking of proposals.
  • The economic impact of the innovation on company growth
  • The relevance of the project to the relevant topic of the work programme
  • European added value and other societal benefits
  1. Excellence: The ‘excellence’ criterion focuses on the quality and specifically the breakthrough nature of the innovation.
  • Clarity of the objectives
  • Soundness of the concept and approach
  • Advances beyond state-of-the-art
  1. Implementation:
  • Quality and effectiveness of the work plan
  • Technical/scientific knowledge/management experience of the team
  • Appropriate allocation of tasks and resources

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

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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