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Frequently asked questions and answers

Who can help me to find a business partner?

The Enterprise Europe Network is the gateway to competitiveness and innovation for European small businesses. Network partners can help businesses find business partners. They also assist them by raising awareness and by providing access to information needed to develop a business. Promoting transnational technology cooperation and ensuring access to innovative technologies is another priority of the Enterprise Europe Network.

How to protect your creation?

Intellectual property can be protected by formal or informal methods. Formal protection consists in granting to the owners exclusive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) under intellectual property law. Informal protection consists in methods like secrecy, confidentiality, defensive publishing, fast innovation cycle etc

Intellectual property rights are divided into two categories: industrial property, which includes inventions, trademarks, industrial design, and geographical indications of source; and copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, films, musical works, paintings, photographs, and architectural designs.

What is a cluster?

A cluster is a group of firms, related economic actors, and institutions that are located near each other and have reached a sufficient scale to develop specialised expertise, services, resources, suppliers and skills.

What is done at EU-level for eco-innovation and sustainable development?

The EU strives to stimulate eco-innovation and the production of eco-friendly products, technologies, services, processes and management methods across Europe. The most recent initiative is the action plan on sustainable production and consumption and sustainable industrial policy that the Commission adopted on 16 July 2008. Eco-innovation and sustainability are also central aspects of several sectors in the lead market initiative, notably sustainable construction, recycling, and renewable energy. Some of the activities in Europe INNOVA and PRO INNO Europe are directly related to eco-innovation, notably the three Europe INNOVA European Innovation Platforms for clusters, knowledge-intensive services, and eco-innovation.

One of the Commission's major contributions is the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) which is also supported by DG Enterprise and Industry. More information on the Commission's activities in the field of eco-innovation can be found on the web pages relating to environmental policies.

What is innovation?

Innovation is generated not only through research and technology, but also through new marketing and management solutions. There are essentially four types of innovation: product innovation - creation or improvement of a good or service; process innovation - creation or improvement of production or delivery method; marketing innovation - new marketing methods; and organisational innovation - introducing a new organisational method into the firm's business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.

What is the CIP?

The Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) facilitates access to funding for innovation projects and provides business support services. It has a budget of €3.621 billion for 2007-2013.

The CIP is divided into three operational programmes:

  • Enterpreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP)
  • Information Communication Technologies Policy support Programme (ICT PSP)
  • Intelligent Ennergy Europe (IEE)
What is the EU innovation policy?

There are many policy tools to increase Europe's innovativeness, ranging from setting up supportive framework conditions (e.g. human resources, internal market, intellectual property) to facilitating access to finance, policy benchmarking and enabling collaboration or to stimulating demand, for instance, through regulation, standards, and public procurement.

The main Community innovation policy at the moment is the broad-based innovation strategy " Putting knowledge into practice ". It singles out priority actions in a roadmap for action at national and European levels.

What is the Lead Market Initiative?

The Lead Market Initiative for Europe will foster the emergence of lead markets with high economic and societal value. Six markets have been identified as being highly innovative and responsive to customers' needs: eHealth, protective textiles, sustainable construction, recycling, bio-based products and renewable energies. These markets depend more than other markets on the creation of favourable framework conditions through public policy measures. For each market, a plan of action for the next 3-5 years has been formulated. European citizens will benefit both from the positive impact on growth and employment (the identified areas could represent three million jobs and 300 billion EUR by 2020) and from the access to enhanced goods and services of high societal value.

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