Brussels, 12 Mar 2003
An EU funded project that aimed to increase the participation of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in energy research projects resulted in the submission of 41 proposals for participation under the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5).
The INTENSE project (intelligence on economic and technological opportunities for SMEs through networked service on energy) was a two year initiative funded under the 'promoting innovation and encouraging the participation of small and medium sized enterprises' programme of FP5. The initiative involved six consulting companies from the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy, four of whom had previously worked together on a similar project.
The consortium used various means to involve SMEs active in energy-related areas in the project. These included the organisation of 14 introductory workshops, which attracted the participation of over 300 enterprises, technology audits of 98 SMEs to provide them with an analysis of potential technological solutions and collaborations, and five brokerage events aimed at establishing international project partnerships.
As Rob Smeets of project coordinators PNO Consulting told CORDIS News: 'This was a project that sought to proactively increase the participation of SMEs with no previous experience of collaborating in the framework programmes. The aim was to get them involved in energy-related projects either to improve the energy efficiency of their industrial processes, or to increase the overall number of SMEs taking part in Community energy research.'
In each of the areas of activity, the INTENSE project exceeded its predicted results. Using a methodology created within the economic and technical intelligence (ETI) scheme, a total of 41 proposals for participation in FP5 were submitted. Given the multinational coverage of the partners, most proposals involved international consortia.
Alongside the 'bottom up' initiatives within the project, the INTENSE partners in each country also created contacts between SMEs and the relevant national institutes for energy research, in order to build a mutual awareness and lasting relationships.
Therefore, asserts Mr Smeets, even if enterprises did not participate under FP5, a large number of SMEs were made aware of the opportunities for participation under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), and contacts with the energy research community has built awareness of the benefits of renewable energy technologies.
The INTENSE partners feel they have helped to create many diverse and long lasting relationships, between SMEs and research institutes, between national SME groupings, and within international project consortia, and they are planning to continue with their efforts under FP6.
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