The recently published ICT workprogramme within the EU 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) features a new continuously open funding scheme for high-tech SMEs to take the lead in research on future and emerging technologies (FET objective ICT-2011.9.2).
High-tech research intensive SMEs can be the essential bridge between novel ideas from science on the one hand, and marketable ideas on the other. They are best placed to open visionary and radically new directions for information and communication technologies within future markets. In this spirit, the strategic objective of this call is to allow high tech research intensive SMEs to diversify and strengthen its scientific and technological asset bases on which to build their future commercial success, several years down the line.
This call is not for any SME. It targets SMEs who know they have a chance to capture the future, and want to work alongside some of the brightest minds in science and technology to make it happen. FET does not seek short-term commercial outcomes. This call will therefore not support, for example, the incremental improvement of state-of-the-art technology, mainstream research aimed at short term product or service development, the incremental improvement of existing lines of business activity, research aimed to catch-up with the competition, forsighting or market studies, or the mere development of new business models or business plans.
The call uses a light and deadline-free two-step submission process. A consortium must have at least one research intensive high-tech SME with an established and proven in-house research capacity and that will play a driving role in setting and executing the research agenda of the project. Proposals are expected as off now for relatively small STREP projects, each with a funding in the order of EUR 1 million, where the largest share of the resources is allocated to the participating SME(s).