The programme for Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) supports the competitiveness, growth and sustainability of businesses in four distinct ways:

Visit Programme Website

EU Budget

€2.3 billion (co-financing rates vary)

  • Access to finance for SMEs in all phases of their lifecycle in the form of equity and loans (through financial instruments operated by intermediary banks) (€1.38 billion).
  • Access to international markets (including via the advisory services of the Enterprise Europe Network) (€520 million).
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial culture (including the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs exchange scheme) (€85 million).
  • Improving framework conditions for the competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises (€200 million). This strand includes support for actions intended to develop new business development strategies on topics such as improving the design, implementation and evaluation of policy actions; cluster and business network management; the development of sustainable products, services, technologies and processes, as well as resource- and energy-efficiency; corporate social responsibility; and the tourism industry (e.g. niche markets, diversification, combatting seasonality etc.). The Commission may also support actions which accelerate the emergence of competitive industries with market potential and may encourage the take-up of new business models and the cooperation of SMEs in new value chains as well as the commercial use of relevant ideas for new products and services.

Project example

  • Tipperary County Council, working alongside UCD and industry partners including Glanbia have accessed COSME to progress an ambitious strategy for the redevelopment of the now disused Lisheen mine as a National Bioeconomy Campus. This is with the aim of attracting new investments in related industrial projects to the site which closed in 2015 – creating significant employment opportunities based on natural resources and a circular economy approach. Through a 2016 call for proposals, 6 partner regions have each been able to avail of significant technical advisory support services from the ‘European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service’ (ESCS) towards assisting plans to develop as a ‘’Model demonstrator regions for bioeconomy’’. This includes guidance on strengthening cross-sectorial cooperation with other industries and sectors including agriculture, forestry, energy-intensive industries, waste management and recycling. In Tipperary’s case this has provided a practical means to plan towards creating a facility to enable industry, entrepreneurs and researchers to scale technologies that convert biomass and bio-waste into products of high value for use in a wide variety of sectors including food ingredients, pharmaceuticals, natural chemicals and biodegradable plastics.

With the aid of the COSME project, the Lisheen site has since progressed to secure Regional Enterprise Development funding of €4.6 million from the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation in support of the development of a Bioeconomy Innovation and Piloting Facility. In April 2018, an expanded consortium including Tipperary were also successful in attracting a further €22 million of EU funding to Lisheen for an innovative bio-economy research and development project (AgriChemWay), to be led by Glanbia. This will address the useful conversion of dairy industry waste (whey permeate) into value-added bio-based products such as fertiliser and minerals for human nutrition. Funded through the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU), this is the largest Irish Horizon 2020 project to date.


EASME Executive Agency for SMEs,

There is no support service for this programme in Ireland.