Widen your horizons with EU funding

Fiona Castela from Enterprise Europe Network North West discusses the funding opportunities that can help SMEs grow.

Fiona CastelaUK unemployment figures may now be at a five year low of 2.2 million but, across Europe, there remains a major need to generate business growth and job opportunities.

Here in Lancashire, there is more help at hand for SMEs to achieve that growth than many may think. The EU has a number of funding programmes available to Lancashire businesses, providing the capital needed to put expansion plans into action.

Amongst these is Horizon 2020, a €70 bn research and development fund that will help technology-based SMEs across Europe to achieve their goals over the next six years.

The funding pot is designed to help technology projects that are currently in development to get the boost they need to make it to market. Providing the finance required to help SMEs to drive their ideas to the next level, the funding is focused on generating opportunities for emerging technologies and maximising their commercial value.

Often, businesses still feel that their only option for finance is from traditional lenders or from venture capitalists.

However, while lending levels to SMEs has improved, it is still not an easy option and bringing in a venture capitalist may bring a financial boost to a development project but will also have a financial impact on the long-term revenues it can generate.

SMEs need to keep themselves up to date with the funding options available and Enterprise Europe Network North West (EENW) can help them to do that by flagging up new EU funding schemes and signposting them to the most appropriate option.

When it comes to Horizon 2020 funding, a grant could be used to invest in a product currently in development or to apply a company’s existing technology to a new sector or market, enabling them to diversify. EENW can help companies explore their ideas, identify funding and link up with European partners: Lancashire SMEs need to be more proactive in accessing that help on their doorstep to open new doors to growth.