Last week I was preparing a short speech about the SME Instrument, a Horizon 2020 innovation funding scheme. Then I remembered a recent LinkedIn discussion about the TRL (Technology Readiness Level) requirement for the proposed projects. People were arguing that TRL 4-5 actually sounded reasonable. Although TRL 6 was clearly sought in the proposed projects, these people were unnecessarily trying to convince each other and acting like if all agreed that a lower TRL was sufficient, it would be so. This was both surprising and disappointing since all the procedures were publicly shared on the web. I guess formal references were not much attractive to read and follow through.
So I decided to base my speech on conversations, namely EASME tweets, which were informal but still official! My main intention was to direct people to credible information resources rather than rumours. Hoping to make my presentation more colorful and intriguing, I reviewed several thousands of (re)tweets sent by @H2020SME between late December 2014 and early August 2015. This period covered 3 cut-offs and 2 #AskEASME Twitter chats. Therefore, these conversations were extensive enough to reflect the key aspects of the SME Instrument and what people were most curious about this scheme.
Grasp the essence of SME Instrument in 3 minutes
Focusing on EASME’s replies, I excluded almost all the repetitive applicant questions, private conversations, public announcements, and data visuals. In the end, I came up with 320 tweets that I categorized by keywords in 60 slides. It sounds long but it is a quick read indeed. I ordered the slides in the sequence an applicant would need them during its application process.
There were a few popular subjects emerging again and again in the conversations. For example, applicants were constantly cross-examining EASME on proposal page limits, TRLs, and eligible costs. Maybe, they were hoping to extend the limits and even to become eligible for an exception with regard to the requirements 🙂 But no way, they all had similar answers consistently over time. Besides, the more cut-off days passed by, the more explicitly EASME expressed its high expectations from the SMEs! Eventually, I noticed that EASME was able to share all the crucial tips and clarify many procedural issues that an applicant would need.