Are you an innovative small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in the biotechnology, IT, or project management field? You may want to consider applying for one of our Calls for proposals. On this page you will find a summary of information on SME involvement as well as advice for applicants.
A diverse international community
SMEs are key players in the European pharmaceutical research and development landscape, and we strongly encourage their participation in our projects.
- there are about 200 SMEs involved in our projects
- the majority of these SMEs are biotech companies; of the rest, most are IT/data management companies, and a few work in project management
By bringing in their innovative ideas, products, services and expertise, SMEs are helping our projects achieve outstanding results. Interested in who they are, where they are located and which projects they are participating in? Find out with the help of our interactive map tool.
The benefits of collaboration
SMEs already participating in our projects tell us that they are benefitting from IMI in a number of ways, including:
- Forming new networks and partnerships. In IMI consortia, SMEs are working alongside academia, industry, patients, and regulators. This helps build mutual understanding, creating new spin out projects and funding opportunities.
- Building reputation and visibility. IMI project achievements often get recognised and promoted on an international level (e.g. in big conferences, top journals and international media). This allows SMEs to build reputation and visibility, helping them win the trust of their customers.
- Perfecting innovative services and products - and being able to pitch them. By participating in IMI projects, SMEs get access to the entire value chain of drug discovery which helps them develop and improve their technology, products and services. Thanks to direct contacts with industry partners, they also get opportunities to pitch their ideas and results to potential customers in industry.
- Access to knowledge and resources. Thanks to the open sharing of knowledge and data in IMI projects, SMEs gain access to large biobanks, laboratories, clinical centres and databases. This helps them test their products, gain expertise and develop new ideas.
- Accelerating business expansion. Participation in IMI has enabled a number of SMEs to grow in size, attract new customers and expand into new markets.
- Access to funding. In IMI projects, SMEs get 100% of their eligible costs reimbursed.
SME case studies and testimonials
European Lead Factory - A number of SMEs are involved in the European Lead Factory, and Germany-based Taros Chemicals plays a leading role in the project. Find out more about how the project has impacted Taros's business in this video and article.
PRISM - Drug Target ID, an SME partner in our PRISM project, has pioneered and developed a unique and highly innovative approach to build ‘molecular landscapes’ for complex genetic disorders. In addition to providing insights into the biological processes underlying such disorders, these landscapes reveal novel, disorder-specific diagnostic biomarkers and drug targets.
Interested in learning more? Read testimonials from SMEs already participating in our projects.
Get involved and apply for funding
IMI publishes a number of Calls for proposals throughout the year.
- Learn about the application procedure and find out about the latest Call for proposals, including specific opportunities for SMEs
- Check out the indicative subjects of future Calls for proposals
- Stay up to date – sign up to the monthly IMI Newsletter
- For immediate notifications of IMI news, join the IMI LinkedIn group or follow us on Twitter
Some on-going IMI projects also have opportunities for SMEs:
- European Lead Factory - IMI’s European Lead Factory project provides researchers in European universities, SMEs and patient organisations with the opportunity to access an industry-like platform for the identification of compounds that could potentially be developed into new medicines. To find out more, visit the project website.
- ENABLE - ENABLE is creating a platform to help organisations, including SMEs, progress through the challenging early stages of antibiotic development. A number of SMEs have had programmes accepted by ENABLE, including France-based Nosopharm. Details of how to submit a programme to ENABLE can be found on the project website.
Getting to grips with intellectual property
Intellectual property (IP) represents a challenging area for collaboration involving so many diverse stakeholders. IMI’s IP policy has proven effective at protecting project partners’ interest while encouraging the sharing and exploitation of knowledge. The IP policy’s strength lies in its flexibility; this allows it to be readily adapted to the needs of each project. Thanks to the IP policy, project partners are sharing compounds, data and knowledge with one another in an unprecedented way.
Visit our testimonial page and see what our SMEs participants say about it
SMEs, mid-sized companies and funding eligibility
To be eligible for IMI funding, SMEs must meet the EU’s official definition of an SME. Under IMI’s rules, SMEs that meet the EU definition when the project starts remain eligible for IMI funding throughout the project, even if they lose their SME status during the project.
In addition, in projects funded under the IMI2 programme, mid-sized companies are also eligible for funding. For the purposes of IMI2, to receive funding mid-sized companies must:
- have an annual turnover of €500 million or less;
- not be affiliated entities of companies with an annual turnover of more than €500 million;
- be established in the EU or countries associated to the Horizon 2020 programme.
Details of the rules for reimbursement for IMI2 projects and the types of organisations that are eligible for funding can be found in the IMI2 model Grant Agreement
- Questions about our Calls for proposals, application procedures, and funding rules: e-mail the IMI SME Infodesk
- Read our tips for finding project partners
- Looking for local support? Contact your local States Representatives Group member, your local National Contact Point (NCP), or your local Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) contact point
- Need more help with the application process? Visit our tips for applicants page