The European Commission has undoubtedly paid special attention to the funding for SMEs under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) so far, and intends to continue to do so. In addition to the SME-specific measures under the Capacity programme (through the scheme Research for the benefit of SMEs), the Decision establishing FP7 as a matter of fact provides for a target of at least 15% of the funding of the Cooperation programme to go to SMEs.
The aim of the SME progress reports is to monitor the participation of SMEs in the Cooperation Programme within FP7. This ninth SME progress report analyses SME participation in grant agreements that have been signed up to the end of September 2012.
In the previous report – the eighth SME progress report published in January 2012 – it was reported for the first time that the 15% target had been reached with 15.2% of the total Cooperation Programme used budget going to SMEs. This figure has further increased, to an extent that today the percentage of used Cooperation programme budget going to SMEs has
reached 16.3%, which represents about 3 Billion Euros total.
By the end of September 2012, SMEs made up 18.5% of all participations on the Cooperation programme, as will be detailed in Chapter 2 of this report.
This report also provides in-depth statistics about the composition of project consortia: 74.5% of all the grant agreements involve at least one SME and 11.1% of all the projects have an SME as its coordinator. The average EU contribution going to SMEs participating in thematic research projects so far has been about €275000 per project.
When looking at FP7 in its entirety – including Research for the Benefit of SMEs and the MarieCurie Actions – the conclusion is that of the about 91000 participations, 16000 are SMEs, receiving an average EU contribution of €253000. The SME participations represent 10807 individual SMEs out of the 27549 individual organisations participating in FP7.
This trend can be attributed to the increase and strengthening of measures in favour of SMEs under the two most recent work programmes, and is particularly visible for the themes HEALTH, KBBE, ENV and SSH. SME-specific measures taken range from the selection of topics of particular relevance to SMEs to calls ring-fencing specific SME budgets; another measure
specifies the requirement for project participation that an SME must be the overall coordinator. These statistics suggest that SMEs have responded very positively to these specific measures, and have considerably stepped up their participation in projects as a result.