Investment programs

Subsidezed programs for the establishment and development of your enterprise

Programs directly managed by the European Commission

The European Union supports entrepreneurs and businesses with a wide range of EU programmes providing financingthrough local financial institutions. Every year the EU supportsmore than 200,000 businesses.

Funding is available for start-ups, entrepreneurs and companies ofany size or sector. A wide range of financing is available:Loans, guarantees, equity funding and other.

What conditions apply?

Grants provided directly by the Commission:

  • serve as complementary financing, the EU does not finance projects up to 100%
  • are meant to help projects break even financially; they cannot result in a profit for the grant beneficiary
  • cannot be awarded retroactively for projects already completed
  • are awarded on a one-grant-per-project basis

Who is eligible?

Businesses or related organisations (business associations, business support providers, consultants, etc.) running projects that promote the interests of the EU or contribute to the implementation of a EU programme or policy. Projects should have a transnational character, be well thought out and offer added value.

Some of the basic financial programs through direct handling of the EU are:


Horizon 2020 is the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. It supports the development of activities from idea to market, with a focus on excellent projects regardless of geographical location. It is divided into three pillars corresponding to its main priorities:

1. Scientific excellence: The Excellent Science pillar supports world-class science in Europe, by developing, attracting and retaining research talent and supporting the development of the best research infrastructures . In this direction EU has a range of financing tools that amount to 24,441 billion euros.

Total funding for 2014-2020 € million
European Research Council (ERC) | Frontier research by the best individual teams 13,095
Future & emerging technologies | Collaborative research to open new fields of innovation 2,696
Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) | Opportunities for training and career development 6,162
Research infrastructures (including e-infrastructure) | Ensuring access to world-class facilities 2,488

2. IndustrialLeadership: The Industrial Leadership pillar supports key technologies, such as microelectronics, and advanced manufacturing across existing and emerging sectors. It also aims at attracting more private investment into research and innovation (R&I) and supporting innovative SMEs in Europe.

Total funding for 2014-2020 € million

Leadership in enabling & industrial technologies (LEITs) | (ICT, nanotechnologies, materials, biotechnology, manufacturing, space)

Access to risk finance | Leveraging private finance & venture capital 2,842
Innovation in SMEs | Fostering all forms of innovation in all types of SMEs 0,616

3. Societal Challenges: Societal Challenges support R&I in areas such as climate, environment and transport that impact citizens and the wider society. This pillar aids the development of breakthrough solutions coming from multi-disciplinary collaborations, which include social sciences and humanities.

Total funding for 2014-2020 € million
Health, demographic change & wellbeing 7,472
Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine/maritime/inland water research and the bioeconomy 3,851
Secure, clean & efficient energy 5,931
Smart, green & integrated transport 6,339
Climate action, environment, resource efficiency & raw materials 3,081
Inclusive, innovative & reflective societies 1,310
Secure societies 1,695

As well as the three pillars outlined above, two specific objectives have also been defined underHorizon 2020.

Total funding for 2014-2020 € million
Specific objective: Spreading excellence and widening participation 0,816
Specific objective: Science with and for society 0,462

Horizon 2020” is the largest EU project for research and innovation that has ever been scheduled. It will lead to more achievements, discoveries, and world preeminence. Almost 80 billion euros will be disposed, in funding form, for seven years (2014-2020)-in addition to private and national public investment that will attract this money.


COSME (Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises)

«COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020 and has a budget of EUR 2.3 billion. It will support SMEs in four areas:

  • Facilitating access to finance for SMEs: One of COSME’s main objectives is to provide enhanced access to finance for SMEs in different phases of their lifecycle: creation, expansion or business transfer.
  • Support of internationalization and access to markets: COSMEprovides support to European enterprises so that they can benefit from the EU’s single market and make the most of opportunities offered by marketsoutside the EU.
  • Creating an environment favourable to competitiveness: COSME supports the appearance of competitive and commercially strong industries, helping SME s to adopt new enterprising models and helps to incorporate into new value chains. The project complements the activities of the member states in sectors with high growth potential such as tourism.
  • Encouraging an entrepreneurial culture: COSME backs the implementation of the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan through a wide range ofactivities. These include mobility exchanges, research, best practices diffusion and pilot projects in areas such as entrepreneurship education, mentoring orthe development of guidance and support servicesfor new and potential entrepreneurs, including young, women and senior entrepreneurs.

COSME is a programme implementing the Small Business Act (SBA), which reflects the Commission’s political will to recognise the central role of SMEs in the EU economy.

COSME is a EU programme for the Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). A significant part of the COSME programme is dedicated towards financial instruments managed by the European Investment Fund (EIF) under a European Commission mandate.

The COSME financial instruments aim at improving access to finance for SMEs and encouraging the competitiveness of European enterprises. The COSME financial instruments run from 2014 to 2020 with a planned budget of EUR 1.3bn.



LIFEis the only EU instrument focused on the environment and climate change.

With a budget of EUR 3.4 billion, the general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation.




LIFE project has specifically the following targets:

  • to contribute to the shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, to the protection and improvement of the quality of the environment and to halting and reversing biodiversity loss, including the support of the Natura 2000 network and tackling the degradation of ecosystems
  • to improve the development, implementation and enforcement of Union environmental and climate policy and legislation, and to act as a catalyst for, and promote, the integration and mainstreaming of environmental and climate objectives into other Union policies and public and private sector practice, including by increasing the public and private sector’s capacity
  • to support better environmental and climate governance at all levels, including better involvement of civil society, NGOs and local actors
  • to support the implementation of the 7th Environment Action Programme

In pursuing those objectives, the LIFE Programme shall contribute to sustainable development and to the achievement of the objectives and targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy and of relevant Union environment and climate strategies and plans.

The general aims set out above shall be pursued through the following subprograms:

a) Subprogram “Environment”, total budget 2,6 billion euros. It contains three priority areas:

  • Environment and Resource Efficiency
  • Nature and Biodiversity
  • Environmental Governance and Information

b) The subprogram “Action for the Climate” with total budget 864 millions euros. This program contains thress priority areas:

  • Climate Change Mitigation
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • Climate Governance and Information

The financial envelope for the implementation of the LIFE Programme for the period from 2014 to 2020 is set at EUR 3 456 655 000 in current prices.



Creative Europe supports the cultural and creative sectors and has a total budget of some EUR 1.54 billion. It also enables them to contribute to the Europe 2020 goals of sustainable growth, jobs and social cohesion. Crucially, it opens up new international opportunities, markets and audiences to these sectors. The programme consists of:

  • the MEDIA sub-programme dedicated to the audiovisual creative and cultural sectors.
  • the Culture sub-programme for the non-audiovisual creative and cultural sectors.
  • a cross-sectoral strand, which includes a EUR 121 million creative and cultural sector loan guarantee facility, providing relevant SMEs with opportunities to access finance.

The program:

  • Safeguards and promotes European cultural and linguistic diversity, and fosters Europe’s cultural richness.
  • Contributes to Europe’s goals for smart, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
  • Helps the cultural and creative sectors to adapt to the digital age and globalisation.
  • Opens up new international opportunities, markets and audiences.
  • Builds on the success of the MEDIA, MEDIA Mundus and Culture programmes.

What does it support?

  • Cross-border cooperation projects between cultural and creative organisations within the EU and beyond.
  • Networks helping the cultural and creative sectors to operate transnationally and to strengthen their competitiveness.
  • Translation and promotion of literary works across EU markets.
  • Capacity building and professional training for audiovisual professionals.
  • Development of fiction, animations, creative documentaries and video games for European cinema, television markets and other platforms.
  • Distribution and sales of audiovisual works in and outside Europe.
  • Film festivals that promote European films.
  • Funds for the international co-production of films.


EaSI (Employment and Social Innovation)

The EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) is a financing instrument for promoting quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions. Its total budget stands at EUR 919 million.

EaSI includes three axes:


  • the modernisation of employment and social policies through the PROGRESS axis
  • job mobility through the EURESaxis
  • access to micro-finance and social entrepreneurship through the Micro-finance and Social Entrepreneurship axis

The PROGRESS axis (61 % of the budget) helps Member States improve policies in three areas:

  • employment, in particular to fight youth unemployment
  • social protection, social inclusion and the reduction and prevention of poverty
  • working conditions

The EURES axis (18% of the budget) aims to strengthen EURES, a European job mobility network that provides information, guidance and recruitment services to employers and jobseekers. It covers three areas:

  • transparency of job vacancies
  • job applications
  • development of services for the recruitment process
  • cross-border partnerships

The Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship axis (21 % of the budget) supports:

  • microcredit and microloans for vulnerable groups and micro-enterprises
  • social entrepreneurship

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