Turning EU research into successful business: four case studies

March 21, 2005

Brussels, 18 March 2005

Four projects showcasing SME involvement in European research programmes are presented today at a press briefing in Celje, Slovenia. The projects illustrate the full range of EU research tools at the disposal of SMEs from a broad variety of industries. They also underscore the strong regional dynamics in European research for and by SMES, and the compelling benefits which these companies can derive from EU Research programmes.

Research, a key to commercial success.

If we compare electronics made ten years ago and today we quickly notice that new models are a lot smaller. Staying in business very often comes down to the ability of the components manufacturers to design and produce miniature devices. The Varsi company, a surge protector maker from Ljubljana, built on support from the scientific community to develop their new product. The company gained access to the research they required through the VARESTER PROJECT, which brought together industry and scientists from France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Slovenia. The co-operation paid off and now its miniature surge protectors are sold all over the world.

Green technology, the future for electronics manufacturers in Europe.

Electronic devices are an integral part of our daily lives. As technology advances we quickly replace older models with faster, smaller and more powerful new ones. However, growing production of new electronics, accompanied by the disposal of massive quantities of older models, is potentially a serious threat to the environment. To address this growing concern, a group of SME electronics manufacturers formed a partnership with researchers to develop technologies free of hazardous substances. The objective of the GREENROSE PROJECT, which gathers 28 partners from 8 countries (Poland, UK, Germany, Slovenia, Norway, Sweden, Latvia and Italy) is to disseminate their “green” processes for environmental technologies to SMEs across Europe.

How to match up 2500 biotech SMEs with 400 potential research partners.

SMEs often have a strong drive to innovate but lack the partners, or simply cannot handle the burden of administrative procedures required in European projects. SMES GO LIFESCIENCE is an initiative designed to help SMEs overcome these obstacles and take full advantage of the two new 6 FP funding instruments: Integrated Projects (IP) and Networks of Excellence (NoE).

The project has two major objectives: to offer SMEs information and training on managing different aspects of EU funded projects and to create a comprehensive database of biotech, pharmaceutical, and other life science SMEs across Europe. Teaming up SMEs with research consortia has already substantially increased the number and quality of small business involvement in the 6FP.

How to help companies share information, best practices.

Companies flourish in some regions and struggle in others, but a good business environment is a function of many factors that are not always easily defined. The NEKS PROJECT assesses relationships between knowledge based companies and local authorities in order to identify and share information and best practices. The first group of case studies include the multimedia sector in Italy, 3D imaging in France and marine engineering in the UK.

SMEs in the current Framework Programme

A budget of €2.3 billion is allocated in the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Development to research activities for and by SMEs. Effective participation of research performing SMEs is being encouraged in collaborative research projects across the various thematic areas. In addition there is support through the SME specific measures: “cooperative” and “collective” research.

SME specific measures include:

In “cooperative research” projects a group of SMEs from different countries assign a significant part of the required scientific and technological research to RTD performers. The SMEs retain the ownership of the results.

In “collective research” projects RTD performers undertake scientific and technological activities on behalf of Industrial Association Groupings in order to expand the knowledge base of large communities of SMEs. The Industrial Association groupings retain the ownership of the results.

See also IP/05/338

Item source: MEMO/05/101 Date: 18/03/2005

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