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€3bn of new product development funding available to UK SMEs

Following the release of the largest amount of money ever devoted to new product development for SMEs, the UK’s 4.8 million small firms will have a chance to claim up to €3 million to spend as they see fit.

The funds come from the Dedicated SME Instrument, which forms part of the European-wide innovation programme Horizon 2020. As of January 1, businesses have been invited to submit an application to the European Commission.

In an effort to streamline the process compared with previous public funding programmes, the application has been simplified and a response is guaranteed within six months. For the greatest chance of success, firms should demonstrate strong market demand for their products. It is thought that products in the furthest stages of development will receive the highest vote of confidence.

In addition to the funding, businesses may be eligible for up to 15 days of coaching to help take their product to the market. This comprehensive initiative is hoped to boost the profitability and absorb some of the financial risks of SMEs, eventually kick-starting new hiring activity in 2014.

Even minor growth for the 20 million EU SMEs could make a dramatic impression on the economy and the EU hopes to fuel these likely engines of growth as we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off from the recession.

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