This priority of the 'Horizon 2020' programme aims to speed up development of the technologies and innovations that will underpin tomorrow's businesses and help innovative European SMEs to grow into world-leading companies. It consists of three specific objectives:
(a)"Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies" provides dedicated support for research, development and demonstration and, where appropriate, for standardisation and certification, on information and communications technology (ICT), nanotechnology, advanced materials, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and processing and space. Emphasis is placed on interactions and convergence across and between the different technologies and their relations to societal challenges. User needs are taken into account in all these fields. A major component of this specific objective is Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), defined as micro- and nanoelectronics, photonics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, advanced materials and advanced manufacturing systems. ICT plays an important role as it provides the key basic infrastructures, technologies and systems for vital economic and social processes and new private and public products and services. Space is a rapidly growing sector which delivers information vital to many areas of modern society, meeting its fundamental demands, addresses universal scientific questions, and serves to secure the Union's position as a major player on the international stage. The specific objective of space research and innovation is to foster a cost-effective competitive and innovative space industry (including SMEs) and research community to develop and exploit space infrastructure to meet future Union policy and societal needs.
(b)"Access to risk finance" aims to overcome deficits in the availability of debt and equity finance for R&D and innovation-driven companies and projects at all stages of development. Together with the equity instrument of the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (COSME) (2014-2020) it supports the development of Union-level venture capital [see section 17.1.3]. The broad lines of the activities of "Access to risk finance" are: (i) the 'debt facility' providing debt finance for R&I: 'Union loan and guarantee service for research and innovation', aiming to improve access to debt financing – loans, guarantees, counter-guarantees and other forms of debt and risk finance – for public and private entities and public-private partnerships engaged in research and innovation activities requiring risky investments; (ii) the 'Equity facility' providing equity finance for R&I: 'Union equity instruments for research and innovation', in order to contribute to overcoming the deficiencies of the European venture capital market and provide equity and quasi-equity to cover the development and financing needs of innovating enterprises from the seed stage through to growth and expansion. The focus of these activities is on supporting the objectives of Horizon 2020 and related policies.
(c) The specific objective "Innovation in SMEs" provides SME-tailored support to stimulate all forms of innovation in SMEs, targeting those with the potential to grow and internationalise across the single market and beyond. This objective aims to stimulate sustainable economic growth by means of increasing the levels of innovation in SMEs, covering their different innovation needs over the whole innovation cycle for all types of innovation, thereby creating more fast-growing, internationally active SMEs. The broad lines of the activities of the 'innovation in SMEs' objective are: (i) mainstreaming SME support especially through a dedicated instrument; (ii) support for research-intensive SMEs; (iii) enhancing the innovation capacity of SMEs; and (iv) supporting market-driven innovation.