Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME)



Total Budget: €2,3 billion

Thematic Categories: Trade and Commerce, Economic growth and Competitiveness, Information and Communication Technologies / Education, Finances, Industry, SME, Technologies, Tourism, Environment & biodiversity, Administration, Competitiveness

Beneficiaries: Education and Training Centres,  State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), National Government, Association

Level of Financing (Eu Co-Financing Rate); 40%-90%


Enquiries to;

Standard Eligibility Conditions; Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), as the main target of COSME, in some calls can apply directly as beneficiary Intermediary organisations, that support SMEs can be beneficiaries and participate in calls. There are two types of grants;

- Mono-beneficiary grants: The grant agreement is signed between the EASME and one beneficiary which is entirely responsible for the implementation of the action.

- Multi-beneficiary grants: The grant agreement is signed between the EASME and a consortium of beneficiaries led by a coordinator. The consortium is responsible for the implementation of the action.

Additional Information: No time constrains and no determined project budget. Pre-Financing option is valid depending on the duration of the project (Please refer “Financial Guidelines for Applicants” Priorities of the year can be found in annual work programme.

Tips for Applicants; COSME Programme has the clarity of its work programme descriptions, leading to a relatively small share of ineligible proposals responding to the calls for grants. No major administrative bottlenecks is identified. Competition in some COSME calls can be quite high, especially for the smaller actions.

Programme Details; 

The programme for the Competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs (COSME) aims at encouraging the competitiveness of European enterprises. With small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), current and potential entrepreneurs and business support organisations as its main targets, the programme provides better access to finance, deliver business support services and promote entrepreneurship. It largely continues the activities started under the Competitiveness and Innovation programme (CIP) and also ensures continuity with initiatives and actions already undertaken under the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP), such as the Enterprise Europe Network. COSME supports, complement and coordinate actions by the Member and Candidate States. The programme will specifically address problems of a transnational nature which, by means of economies of scale or by their demonstration effect, can be more effectively addressed at the European level.

Main target audience: SMEs, Entrepreneurs, Business Support Organisations, regional and national Administrations


COSME Programme provide support in the following areas:

  • Facilitating access to finance; 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. In order to achieve this objective, the EU is mobilizing loans and equity investments for SMEs. Through the Loan Guarantee Facility, the programme will provide guarantees and counter-guarantees to financial institutions (e.g. guarantee societies, banks, leasing companies) so they can provide more loan and lease finance to SMEs. Through the Equity Facility for Growth, the programme will provide risk(venture) capital to equity funds investing in SMEs mainly in the expansion and growth-stage phases.
  • COSME Guarantees;  Max. loan amount €150,000, Min. duration of transaction 12 months, Max. guarantee of 10 years, 
  • Strict focus on additionality => guarantees focus on transactions with a higher risk profile.
  • Wide range of interventions => Working capital, investment loans, subordinated loans, bank guarantees, leasing.
  • Duration: min. 12 months (transaction) – max. 10 years (guarantee).
  • SME financing up to EUR 150,000 for any type of SME.
  • EUR 150 000 financing possible if the SME does not fulfil criteria to be eligible under the Risk Sharing Instrument of Horizon 2020 (RSI) – verification through checklist.
  • Securitisation of SME loan portfolios. 

COSME Equity Financing: long-term investments (5 to 15 year positions) • 7,5% - 25% of total VC fund capital • max € 30 mln

  • Supports investments in risk capital funds which in turn invest predominantly into SMEs at the growth and expansion stage.
  • Funds co-operating with business angels are eligible as long as certain criteria are met.
  • Long-term investments (5 to 15 year positions).
  • Funds must contribute to the creation of a pan-European VC market (e.g. make cross-border investments).
  • Possibility of joint investments with the early-stage equity facility of Horizon 2020 into multi-stage funds

Supporting internationalization and access to markets; 

The COSME programme provide SMEs with support to facilitate business expansion in the EU Single Market and in markets outside the EU. International business cooperation will be fostered, in particular, to reduce the differences in regulatory and business environments, between the EU and its main trading partners. COSME provides support to European enterprises so that they can benefit from the EU’s single market and make the most of opportunities offered by mar­kets outside the EU.  COSME funds the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) consisting of over 600 offices in more than 50 countries helping SMEs find business and technology partners, understand EU legislation and access EU financing. COSME also funds web tools specifically designed for enterprises development such as Your Europe Business Portal or the SME Internationalisation Portal. COSME finances the ASEAN, China and MERCOSUR Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) SME Helpdesks that offer advice and support to European SMEs. The programme also provides financial assistance to the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation, to promote all forms of industrial, trade and invest­ment cooperation by disseminating information on how to access the Japanese market. 100% where applicable as those parts of programme that are accessible to individual organisations mainly concern service contracts through calls for tender.

Creating an environment favorable to competitiveness

COSME supports actions to improve the framework conditions in which enterprises operate, in particular SMEs, by reducing unnecessary administrative and regulatory burdens. COSME supports the emergence of competitive industries with market potential, by helping SMEs to take-up new business models and integrate into new value chains. COSME promotes the development of world-class clusters in the EU, fostering cluster excellence and internationalization with an emphasis on cross-sectoral cooperation, notably in support of emerging industries. The programme also aims at accelerating the digitalization of the business community and promoting e-skills and e-leadership.

Encouraging an entrepreneurial culture; 

Entrepreneurship. Support will be given to encourage trans-national networks, to exchange good practices and identify scope for expanding business activities. COSME backs the implementation of the Entrepre­neurship 2020 Action Plan through a wide range of activities. These include mobility exchanges, research, best practices diffusion and pilot projects in areas such as entrepreneurship education, mentoring or the development of guidance and support services for new and potential entrepreneurs, including young, women and senior entrepreneurs.  Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is for instance a cross-border exchange scheme which aims to help new and aspiring entrepreneurs acquire relevant skills to run and grow a business by working with an experienced entrepreneur in another country for one to six months. COSME especially focuses on digital entrepre­neurship to help European businesses drive their digital transformation and fully benefit from the unprecedented new opportunities created in the digital era, which are crucial for their competitive­ness and growth. Level of Financing Varying based on the Calls.

Supported activities in a nutshell: COSME provides enhanced access to finance for SMEs in their start-up, growth and transfer phases through instruments:

  • a loan guarantee facility (LGF) i.e. counter-guarantees and other risk sharing arrangements for guarantee schemes, an Equity Facility for Growth (EFG) to enhance the supply of risk capital.
  • COSME provides support to European enterprises and, in particular, to SMEs to benefit from the Single market by establishing business links outside their own country and as well to export outside Europe. An important tool to support SMEs locally is the Enterprise Europe Network with more than 600 offices in the EU and beyond. COSME also provides directly concrete support to SMEs, for example through the ASEAN, China and MERCOSUR IPR SME Helpdesks.
  • COSME funds concrete actions aiming at reducing administrative burden, supporting smart and SME-friendly regulation, strengthening coordination of Member States’ industrial policies and reinforcing the use of the 'Think Small First' principle. COSME  promotes resource efficiency, sustainability and corporate social responsibility. It includes actions to improve the competitiveness of strategic sectors. These actions are aimed at targeting industries which have a strategic importance for the European economy including, among others, tourism.
  • Supporting the implementation of the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, COSME proposes actions to create a more entrepreneurial Europe through entrepreneurship education and training, mobility exchanges, mentoring, and development of materials and support services for new and potential entrepreneurs, including young, women and senior entrepreneurs. A special focus will be given to digital entrepreneurship and e-skills to help businesses reap the benefits of the Digital Single Market that is crucial for their competitiveness. Also, the European mobility programme Erasmus for Entrepreneurs helps new entrepreneurs acquire and build entrepreneurial skills and knowledge and to further develop their business activity by learning from experienced entrepreneurs.

Total budget: 262.530 €

End date: 31/12/2017

Project: Empowering CLUSters management and services in TExtile and Machinery sectors

Project Acronym: CLUSTEM

Project Objective: Framework conditions for enterprises

The activity of clusters is vital for supporting international competitiveness of the European SMEs, through building of collaboration and sharing of added value. The CLUSTEM proposal will be based on the results of European Cluster Excellency Initiative (ECEI), which aims at the improvement of the policy in the field on cluster management; a better management and organisation can address some of the key factors affecting competitiveness in textile and machinery clusters in Europe.

  • M2C Institut fur angewandte Medienforschung GmbH

Total budget: 331.117 €

End date: 30/11/2016

Project: EUMillennialsTOUR

Project Acronym: EUMillennialsTOUR

Project Objective: Framework conditions for enterprises

EUMillennialsTOUR project aims at developing a transnational tourism product mixing together culture, education, knowledge capitalization and entrepreneurship up-skilling.


Topic: Erasmus for young entrepreneurs

Total budget: 554.193 €

End date: 31/01/2020

Project: Entrepreneurial Network of Growth Initiatives for New Entrepreneurs 2

Project Acronym: ENGI4NE-2

Project Objective: Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial culture

ENGI4NE-2, acronym for Entrepreneurial Network of Growth Initiatives for (4) New Entrepreneurs II, aims both at: supporting new entrepreneurs (NEs) with a clear business idea to start up or grow their business;


Total budget: 546.008 €

End date: 31/12/2019

Project: Improving competitiveness of Serbian SMEs trough implementation of integrated services focused on innovative capacities, productivity and internationalization

Project Acronym: EEN SERBIA

Project Objective: Access to markets

EEN is present and active in Serbia for 10 years now and in its course, Consortium partners will continue to provide the highest quality business support services to Serbian SMEs. The main objective of EEN Serbia is to continue improving competitiveness of Serbian SMEs trough implementation of integrated services focused on innovation capacities, productivity, internationalization as well as to assure information flow about EU market, measures and programs, available EU and national R&D support programs.


Total budget: 473.372 €

End date: 15/10/2020

Project: European Automotive Cluster Network for Joint Industrial Modernization Investments

Project Acronym: EACN

Project Objective: Framework conditions for enterprises

The European automotive industry, crucial for Europe’s economy, faces today several challenges regarding their product (e.g. need for electrification of cars, autonomous vehicles), competition (with new arrivals: Google, Tesla...) and data becoming more important than the cars. Traditional pyramidal supply chain value networks will not work anymore, collaboration between the different actors becomes necessary. Joint investments in industrial modernization is a chance for SMEs to improve their and the automotive sector's competitiveness while minimizing the risk of bad decisions. The European Automotive Cluster Network for joint Industrial Modernization Investments (EACN) aims at initiating joint R&D projects and investments teaming partners from different European regions.

Examples of Open Calls as of today

  • COS-ENTRECOMP-2018-3-01: Support for the Implementation of the Entrepreneurship Competence Framework
  • The maximum grant per project will be EUR 500.000.
  • EASME expects to fund two (2) proposals.
  • The grant is limited to a maximum reimbursement rate of 90% of eligible costs
  • The duration of projects is 36 months.

The overall goal of this call for proposal is to turn EntreComp as an idea into action to bring value to communities of users at local, regional national level. This initiative aims to get together relevant players in a number of countries to create a collaborative community that will explore how the framework can function as a catalyst and a tool, to foster the entrepreneurial skills of young people and citizens in general.

Activities supported by this call for proposals aim to encourage a systemic use of the Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (EntreComp) in order to support the development and assessment of entrepreneurial mindsets and skills, and to facilitate further progress in the spread and effectiveness of entrepreneurship education and training.

Applicants must be legal entities forming a consortium.   The consortium must be composed of a minimum of six (6) legal entities located in at least three (3) EU member states or COSME participating countries

Such entities may include:

  • Public authorities and public administrations (at the national, regional or local level);
  • Chamber of commerce and industry or similar bodies;
  • Business associations and business support collaborative communities;
  • Training and educational institutions;          
  • NGOs, non-profit organisations, associations and foundations; and
  • Other public and private entities specialised in education, training or employment.

  • COS-TOURCOOP-2019-3-01: Boosting sustainable tourism development and capacity of tourism SMEs through transnational cooperation and knowledge transfer

  • The consortium must gather a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 10 members/partners – different legal persons – covering at least 5 eligible countries. 
  • The project's duration must be between 25 months and 36 months.
  • The maximum grant per project will be EUR 1 000 000.

The general objective of this Call is to boost sustainable tourism development and capacity of tourism SMEs through transnational cooperation and knowledge transfer.

The action aims at: reinforcing transnational and cross-border cooperation to enable sustainable growth of tourism SMEs, fostering SMEs’ capacities and skills to explore and uptake solutions, which would improve their sustainable management and tourism sustainability in general and fostering innovative solutions for sustainable tourism through cross-sectoral cooperation

Applicants must be legal persons forming a consortium. The following is a list of non-exhaustive types of legal persons that may apply:

  • non-profit organisations (private or public)
  • non-governmental organisations
  • public authorities and their networks or associations at European, international, national, regional and local level, or organisations acting on behalf of a public authority, responsible for or active in the fields of tourism, economic affairs, industry, business support or related fields
  • international organisations
  • private and profit making entities including micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) active in tourism and business support
  • chambers of commerce and industry
  • training and educational institutions, including universities and research centres active in tourism and business support