Brussels, 07 Jun 2004
The Innovation Relay Centre (IRC) network of trans-national technology cooperation agents is holding its 8th annual meeting in Vienna from 7-9 June 2004. Building on the Commission's recently renewed commitment to the network as a key element in the strategy to bridge the innovation gap between the EU and the US, the meeting is planning how to encourage exchanges between businesses and institutions for the next few years.
Just as service providers open the door to the internet, so IRCs are the gateway for enterprises to access a wider world of innovation and the technological breakthroughs that can make their businesses more competitive. By encouraging greater use of the centres, building up their professional expertise, and developing more interlocking networks, Enterprise Directorate-General is making it easier for small firms in particular to benefit from the latest innovative techniques.
Small businesses, due to their limited financial and human resources, are often unable to conduct their own internal R&D and have to rely on external resources. But a lack of experience and culture in networking and technology absorption is a major hurdle preventing them from benefiting from the opportunities available. The IRC network can help small firms transfer knowledge, commercialise research results and take new technologies on board.
The first IRCs were established by the European Commission in 1995. Today 71 IRCs, with around 250 offices located in 33 countries provide a specialized trans-national technology brokerage service for knowledge-based SMEs, large companies, research institutes, technology centres and innovation agencies.