Brussels, 07 Jun 2006
A new study reveals that the Chief Financial Officers of many small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the new EU Member States may be preventing their companies from taking part in EU research projects due to perceived financial burdens of participation.
The study was funded under the information society technologies (IST) strand of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), and was carried out by a consortium led by EFPConsulting. It looked at the reasons why many SMEs in the new EU Member States are apparently unwilling to apply for EU research funding, particularly in the IST field. They interviewed senior staff from SMEs in all ten new Member States, with a view to finding out what had influenced their decision on whether or not to become involved in FP6 IST research proposals.
The researchers discovered that for SMEs, the potential financial burdens of participating in EU research projects were often a key factor in decisions not to get involved. Furthermore, they found that the Chief Financial Officers of SMEs regularly play a major role in these decisions. Yet all too often the financial staff of companies were found to be unaware of the financial benefits of taking part in EU projects, and had misconceptions about the financial and administrative burdens involved, particularly with reference to issues like co-financing and complex EU reporting requirements. This had led them to advise their companies against applying for funding.
The study's authors recommend better education of the financial community on the financial benefits of participation in EU research programmes, and improved dissemination of information in order to clear up misunderstandings over issues such as co-financing.