Business Development, Innovation and SMEs

Woman in a laboratory


The Business Development, Innovation and SMEs programme area focuses on strengthening competitiveness of European businesses through investments in innovation.

The Challenge

Europe‘s growth and competitiveness depend on European businesses’ capacity in developing sustainable green solutions to emerging challenges, such as:

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Economic and social inequalities

Inequality is a rising challenge in Europe, both between and within countries. It affects Europe‘s population and threatens future growth. Income, health, education, demographic and opportunity inequalities affect Europe‘s labour markets and overall competitivity. As a result, many Member States are rethinking their economic and development strategies towards more sustainability and increased wellbeing.

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Climate change

Climate change related effects such as extreme weather events and its impact on resources, as well as infrastructure, affect all areas of our lives, including private sector. To mitigate risk, more and more businesses are looking into ways to transform their processes and adopting green digital technologies.

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Access to finance

SMBs represent 99% of businesses in the EU and employ two thirds of the active working population. However, accessing finance remains one of the biggest challenges they’re faced with. This leads to SMBs missing out on growth opportunities, reduced entrepreneurship and innovation - and represents a critical obstacle to business creation in many European countries.

Our Approach

Our goal

We aim to increase value creation and foster sustainable economic growth in Europe.


By investing in new technologies, processes and services, we help build a dynamic, green and competitive European economy. These aims are in line with the Europe 2020 strategy, which emphasises the need for a green, innovative and sustainable approach to growth. For that purpose, and within the areas of green industry innovation, blue growth and ICT, we support:

  • the development, commercialization and implementation of innovative technologies, processes, products and services
  • sustainable business development
  • greening of existing businesses and processes

Around 75% of the funding will be allocated to SMEs and around 50% of the funding will support green industry innovation.

Download the overview of our support to business development, innovation and SMEs to see the full list of suggested activities.

Creating partnerships

Business development and innovation are key areas for bilateral cooperation between donor and beneficiary countries. Challenges related to Europe‘s competitivity and sustainable growth can be stimulated through sharing of knowledge and business cooperation across sectors and borders.

Innovation Norway is the donor programme partner in this area and can facilitate partnerships for Norwegian entities that wish to become partners in projects.