Enabling technologies and EU calls: opportunities for industries


EU calls and enabling technologies: is it true that only big industrial players can have access to them? 

When talking about EU calls and financing, one of the most common clichés is that they are only accessible to large and structured industries, with specific knowledge and big turnover. 

This is not the case! 

For sure, having access to EU calls is not a walk in the park, but it’s an opportunity which many companies can take. And above all, those companies which carry out projects related to enabling technologies. 

Let’s now see why.

KET Key Enabling Technologies and Horizon 2020

What does “Key Enabling Technologies” mean?

The EU Commission has a clear and precise definition : “KETs are knowledge intensive and associated with high R&D intensity, rapid innovation cycles, high capital expenditure and highly-skilled employment.

The Enabling Technologies are nowadays one of the greatest topics of interest for the financing policies of the Commission. The Horizon 2020 programme (for more details click here) has among its key objectives turning Europe into an excellence area for Research and Innovation, providing companies with the support they need for their projects.


The support is not provided to the largest and most structured companies, but to companies with innovation potential and projects linked with Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0. The aim is to encourage the growth of these companies by financing programmes and helping them setting a position in the global markets.


So which companies can enjoy the benefits of the EU calls?


Following you can find two of the key categories.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

In the last ten years digital technologies, infrastructures and ICT services have had an increasingly significant impact on the life of people, and in the years to come this impact will be even deeper and wider.

Consequently, companies active with innovation projects in the ICT sector will see a growing number of opportunities. The EU calls have indeed the objective to develop and enhance the opportunities from projects implemented thanks to the ICT for citizens, companies and scientific communities. In 2020 the budget available will be of 990 million Euros (from Horizon 2020 programme only). 

The topics of Horizon 2020 are the following:

  • Technologies for the digital transformation of European Industry and Enterprises
  • European Data Infrastructure: HPC, Big Data and Cloud technologies
  • 5G Applications and Technologies
  • Future Internet
  • Horizontal activities (pre-commercial procurement, start-up Europe and innovation radar, fin-tech, starts)
  • Supporting Hub Digital Innovation
  • Digital platforms
  • Cyber-security
  • Coordinated joint call of international cooperation with Japan and South Korea

Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology, Advanced manufacturing and Processing 

 The position of Europe in global economy is intertwined with Advanced materials, Biotechnology, Nanotechnologies and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing: competitiveness in the next ten years will rely on these sectors. 

Nanotechnologies are used more and more frequently in every field, from medicine to green tech, with main evolutions and changes in every aspect of our daily life. The same happens for Biotechnology, which nowadays forms the basis of all the long-term sustainability projects.

Thanks to the research on Advanced materials it is possible to develop new functions and improved features, adding value to existing products and processes.

Eventually, the interest of the European Commission for Advanced manufacturing and Processing is a sign of manufacturing comeback in the EU as part of a new sustainable economy – in technical, environmental and social terms.

Everybody has a chance!


Indeed, the world of EU calls for enterprises is complicated, it requires language skills, project management skills and a deep and specific knowledge of bureaucratic procedures. 

Anyway, the turnover, history or credit of a company are not crucial parameters to have access to them. 

The first step for any industry which is willing to benefit from European financing is to start collecting information and rely on the professional services of an expert with a specific experience, who can guide the company in every stage of the bureacratic procedure. 

Sara Canella

Sara Canella

EU Funding, Innovation & Marketing

I am a freelance consultant specialized in applying for and managing European funding for companies and start-ups active in the field of research and innovation.

My work includes the creation of business plans, development plans and marketing plans aiming at applying for European calls for proposals.

My objective is to provide companies active in innovation with some concrete tools to start their projects and with my know-how to convert them into real business opportunities.