The H2020 SME Innovation Associate is a new pilot action under the EU Research and
Innovation Framework Programme ‘Horizon 2020’ supporting European SMEs and Start-ups
to recruit post-doctoral research associates from other countries to explore an innovation
The action aims at overcoming barriers for EU SMEs and Start-ups to the recruitment of
highly qualified specialists (PhD or equivalent) that are not available on the national job
market (either because the required skills are not available or because they are not affordable),
but whose knowledge would be crucial to open up opportunities for innovation and significant
growth for the enterprise.
Innovation in SMEs is often hampered by a lack of access to specialised skills and
knowledge. At the same time, many companies find it difficult to manage innovation
processes effectively and struggle to recruit specialised knowledge as they don’t tend to have
extensive international Networks or the well-known brand names of large enterprises.
The H2020 SME Innovation Associate Programme is a first step to change this and to
develop an enterprise-led mobility programme in the EU, helping European SMEs recruit
expertise and get better access to scientific excellence. This call is an experiment to test the
feasibility of an European measure to increase access to talent for SMEs and Start-ups by
Because of this experimental nature it applies a fixed period for the
recruitment of the researcher aligned to Academic year in most European countries. This
allows the European Commission to organise training in industrial innovation management to
the group of innovation associates and to monitor better recruitment success, employment
conditions and impact. These feed the evaluation and eventual scale-up of the action.