From June 2014, since I am involved into this very interesting funding instrument, I met a lot of really interesting people from around EU and came across some realy amazing ideas.
But I also came to the conclusion that this mass of applications would be halved if applicants would actualy read the call and assess situation - objectively andprior submission.
Here is the understanding of the SME Instrument which I meet (to) often:
  • "There are 2 millions waiting just for us! (Sure we are disruptive, whatever that means.)"
  • "I can apply alone. (And that is great, we will subcontract 50%)"
  • "It's only 10 (or 30) pages. (So we can prepare a project in 7 days max)."
  • "We don't have a prototype (yet) but we will present it like we do. (They'll never know right?)"
  • "We will sell our solution to whole world, make millions and employ 2 people."
List could go on but I am sure you get the picture. However, if this 5 bullet points would be explored deeper, many many applicant would at least understand why success rate is so low. Or why they can't win in this call "with left hand".

5 action tips you can implement and save some money and time

Just to clarify already from the beginning - I evalute projects as a consultant and not as an officialy appointed evaluator.
During this period we had some nice successes, projects came through Phase 2 (or got Seal of Excellence) and Phase 1 (or got Seal of Excellence). We are working hard and we study a lot, to improve from cutt-off to cutt-off. And innovators and business owners (mostly) appreciate it.
Let's move to the tips:
Advice#1: Before you apply, explore the meaning of disruptive solution. It might happen that you will discover that your solution isn't such. But no worries, there are other funding possibilites and you will save time and money.
Even this 2-min form Harvard Business Review video will help: The explainer
Advice #2: Single entity proposal is realy an attractive option. But if you need another entity to complete your proposal and which will take e.g 50% of planned work (budget), this option will not serve you. Reconsider partnership.
Advice #3: This will be very tough 10 (or 30) pages to writte. You need a team. You need time as well. Our shortest period of preparation (which was successful) was 3 weeks (Phase 1). 6 people worked hard on it. I am not an optimist we will achieve this again soon.
Advice #4: Trust me, "they" (evaluators) will at least feel there is something wrong (Remeber pertinence factor). Don't underestimate other people, specially those who are intensively involved into evaluation process. If nothing else, you will have problems describing TRL, how you reached it, not to mention the unconvincing comparison with the competitive solutions. Instead pick a different programme like EUREKA/EUROSTARS and develop a prototype.
Advice #5: Did you reconsider how will you protect your solution? How will you prevent others to jump into your niche and take your market share? If you are promoting your business solution with flyers in local area - how will you sell it to the other side of the world? Just being online doesn't mean anything will be sold. Make a plan, identify lead (end) users, show commercialization progress in time.
Will you manage everything with 2 new employees?
Develop meaningfull projects and good luck with submissions!