Small and medium-sized enterprises are characterised by a low level of innovation, mainly due to their limited financial resources. Supporting innovation in this sector by the means of the EU funds can contribute to an increase in expenditures on the implementation of R&D. The Smart Development Operational Programme provides such an opportunity as its main objective is to increase the level of innovativeness and competitiveness of the Polish economy through the development of innovativeness of enterprises. In the framework of this programme, a proposal concerning financial instruments, including debt instruments for financing innovativeness of SMEs, has been prepared. The aim of the paper is to evaluate the role of loans in support of innovative activity of small and medium-sized enterprises within the framework of the Smart Development Operational Programme (OP SD). The realisation of this goal has required an assessment of previous experience in the use of loans to support SMEs’ innovative activity and an evaluation of the proposed debt instruments for support of innovative activity of SMEs.