INNOWWIDE, a seed for a new European SME internationalisation funding instrument | INNOWWIDE final event outcomes

INNOWWIDE organised its final conference on July 7th, 2021, online: European INNOvative business solutions in WorldWIDE markets | INNOWWIDE FINAL EVENT

Attended by more than 105 participants, the event  presented and highlighted the INNOWWIDE programme scope, goals, results, achievements and impact in terms of efficiency (appropriateness of the instrument) and effectiveness (actual collaborative product & market development) and setting the basis for future work in this field.  

The final event provided evidence of the high leverage effects of the INNOWWIDE programme and its related VAP (Viability Assessment Project) instrument to a wide range of stakeholders interested in SME innovation internationalization programmes: National Funding Bodies, innovative SMEs, research organizations and innovation support communities and networks. In addition, it represented an opportunity to explore possibilities for scaling up VAPs and further disseminating their results to potential partners and customers abroad.

Facilitated by SPI and EBN, the event was structured along five main sessions aimed at introducing the INNOWWIDE pilot programme and main outputs, discussing the impact achieved by the programme and the VAPs with different stakeholders (including the European Commission (EC), a national innovation funding agency and an EU|BIC Business Innovation Centre located in the South Moravian regional development agency). Jointly they presented key strategic observations and recommendations from INNOWWIDE Advisory Board members, shared stories of four  funded VAPs, and hosted a high-level policy panel between the EC and Eureka Network on the future of INNOWWIDE funding scheme in Horizon Europe.

During the event, ENRICH Global was invited to present on behalf of all ENRICH centres the non-financial support services offered by these programmes for the internationalisation of innovative European start-ups and SMEs, while CUBE-IN addressed a very interesting presentation on the importance of understanding and managing the cultural dimension of the internationalisation processes.


Designed to answer the challenges of the declining share of third-country participation in H2020 compared to FP7, and of the unmet SME needs at the international technological cooperation level, the INNOWWIDE programme was designed according to three  key driving principles:

  1. SIMPLICITY > lump-sum scheme reducing paperwork at submission and monitoring stage.
  2. FLEXIBILITY > customised approach allowing applicants to pick the activities that best met their international cooperation needs.
  3. BOTTOM-UP APPROACH > leaving applicants the freedom to chose the sector of interest, the target country of destination and the activities they wanted to implement with the grant.

INNOWWIDE implemented two calls for Viability Assessment Projects (VAPs), one in 2019 and one in 2020, receiving more than 2000 registrations on the calls portal, 976 total submissions, of which 700 are eligible for the grant. 250 projects scored above the threshold and 120 finally got the grant (a lumpsum of €60,000).

This translated into € 7,2 million distributed to 120 European SMEs (85%) and start-ups (15%) over 2 calls for VAPS, and a balanced allocation per 3rd country distribution (34 countries outside EU).

Danila Conte, Project Adviser, stressed the fact that the innovation brought by INNOWWIDE scheme consists of a new methodology based on its bottom-up approach, the lump-sum granting scheme and the strong emphasis on the co-creation processes between the European grantees and the local partners in the targeted

As stated by Heikki Uusi-Honko, Head of International Networks at Business Finland, “INNOWWIDE proved that there is a high number of SMEs in Europe with strong capabilities to do high-quality work in internationalisation. The VAPs design allowed applicants to chose among a pre-defined set of activities while defining their internationalisation path. In the future, a co-funding by EU Member States the scheme would be beneficial for better use of both national and EU funds”.

This last comment was central in the strategic assessment provided by the Advisory Board representatives, who insisted on the need of integrating INNOWWIDE in ongoing and other initiatives from EC and Member States, as it covers a clear gap in the framework of the current programmes European SMEs can look at.

The programme still needs some improvements, and key areas to address in the future are: how can it better support European companies to overcome cultural and political barriers, and how can it expand its impact by offering non-financial support too? And, how to encourage more start-ups to apply for this programme?

Four successful grantees (Paula Sole-Jimenez, LSAqua; Joaquin Alviz, Renacens Sistemas SL; Sarfarazuddin Syed, Next Generation Sensors B.V; Emanuele Guglielmino, Microturbines) then shared their direct experience with the INNOWWIDE programme.

“Amazing experience, we learned a lot and we created a technology! INNOWWIDE allowed us to learn along the way by encouraging co-creation approaches to international cooperation with local partners”. Joaquin Alviz, Renacens Sistemas SL

“INNOWWIDE helped us to get out of national borders! It was instrumental to start-up our activity in Latin America, that otherwise wouldn’t have been so easy”. Emanuele Guglielmino, Microturbines

“INNOWWIDE is a network of people and organisations. Open your eyes and keep your mind open”. Sarfarazuddin Syed, Next Generation Sensors B.V

“Thanks to the INNOWIDE granting we had the chance to open the market in Indonesia since it facilitated and accelerated the process. In parallel, it allowed us to discover the procedures and methodologies for product adaptation and innovation, making industrial collaborations smoother through co-creation approaches”. Paula Sole-Jimenez, LSAqua

Luis González Souto, Deputy Director of Technology Cooperation at CDTI and project coordinator, opened the policy dialogue between the EC and Eureka by saying that INNOWWIDE could be a precursor of a more established funding instrument for internationalization of EU SMEs under Horizon Europe. A seed for a new European SME internationalization funding instrument

Ms Anna Panagopoulou, Director, Directorate J – DG Research and Innovation, European Commission, announced that INNOWWIDE will be integrated into the Horizon Europe partnership programme with a budget of € 25 million (10% of the total contribution to Horizon Europe partnerships).

INNOWWIDE scheme proved to strengthen international collaboration by establishing win-win international collaboration partnerships. The European Commission is therefore very much willing to reinforce and capitalize on INNOWWIDE programme results.

INNOWWIDE final event agenda and speakers’ presentations

Welcome & introduction


Francisco Rocha, Senior Project Manager at SPI

The INNOWWIDE programme essentials. Viability Assessment Projects (VAPs), international technological cooperation, innovative product-market development, co-creation and future bilateral RTDI


  • Carlos García Delgado, Head of Sector at CTA 
  • Isabel De Vera, Project Monitoring Coordinator at Eureka Secretariat 


The INNOWWIDE VAPs as a door opener for the internationalisation of European SMEs. INNOWWIDE programme results and metrics and panel discussion on the programme impact, leverage effect, efficiency, and effectiveness


  • Oliver Rohde, DLR 


  • Heikki Uusi-Honko, Head of International Networks at Business Finland
  • Danila Conte, Project Advisor, Unit REA C1- Inclusive Society 
  •  Monika Vrbková, Head of Technological Cooperation Team at JIC, Brno (EU|BIC South Moravian Region)


The INNOWWIDE programme Strategic Assessment. Views from the INNOWWIDE External Expert Advisory Board (EEAB)


  •  Carlos García Delgado, Head of Sector at CTA


  • Brigitte Ecker, Managing Director of WPZ Research 
  • Jana Kolar, Executive Director of Central European Research Infrastructure Consortium


The INNOWWIDE reality – Focus on  European SMEs International Outreach. Views from VAP beneficiaries


  • Faith Blakemore, International Project Manager at Steinbeis 2i GmbH 


  • Paula Sole-Jimenez, LSAqua
  • Joaquin Alviz, Renacens Sistemas SL
  • Sarfarazuddin Syed, Next Generation Sensors B.V.
  • Emanuele Guglielmino, Microturbines


INNOWWIDE: innovation and international cooperation policy. Views from the EC and the Eureka Initiative


  • Luis González Souto, Deputy Director of Technology Cooperation at CDTI


  • Ms Anna Panagopoulou, Director, Directorate J – DG Research and Innovation European Commission
  • Mr Miguel Bello, EUREKA Chairman – Portuguese Presidency
  • Mr Ulrich Schuh, EUREKA Chairman – Austrian Presidency


Taking European Innovation Global with the ENRICH centres and CUBE IN


  • Francisco Rocha, SPI


  • Svetlana Klessova, Director, Research and Innovation Partnerships G.A.C. Group – Innovation & Performance for Impact 
  • Egbert Schram, CEO of Hofstede Insights 

Conclusions and closing remarks


  •  Luis González Souto, Deputy Director of Technology Cooperation at CDTI
  • Danila Conte, Project Advisor, Unit REA C1- Inclusive Society


The event has been recorded, and the full video is now available both on the INNOWWIDE website (https://innowwide.eu/resources/videos/) and YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbI2ZcdQiSc).