As of November 2018, the SME Instrument and Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) have become the central part of the European Innovation Council (EIC), which has meant several changes for SME Instrument specifically. These modifications are as follows:
- Full bottom-up selection approach: the removal of pre-defined topics -as foreseen in previous Work Programmes- shall help foster the process of developing market-creating innovations, by linking different technologies, industry sectors and scientific disciplines, of different domains.
- Revision of the submission forms, to simplify the submission process and to adopt a more business-friendly language.
- Pool of Expert-Evaluators: the number of expert-evaluators in the pool with an investor profile has been significantly increased in order to better consider market and investment related elements in the evaluation. This shall also comply with the next change in SME Instrument Phase 2 evaluation procedure.
- Pitch deck for selected Phase 2 proposals – applicants that have passed SME Instrument Phase 2 dynamic threshold will be invited to a face-to-face interview in Brussels, during which the applicant is posed questions to clarify aspects of the proposal. The introduction of this additional step after the remote evaluation will give expert-evaluators a better grasp of the proposals and make sure that only the best and most disruptive innovation ideas pass the cut.