Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) offer huge opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) but measures are needed to allow them to exploit these opportunities. The European Commission offers funding in this area and is researching how to better help small businesses access technology platforms.
A Belgian small business uses a unique pilot plant (a technology platform co-financed by European funds, Belgium’s Flanders region, and the Netherlands) to test a new process on a semi-industrial scale, resulting in a doubling of their turnover and the creation of new jobs.
Access to technology platforms by SMEs can increase their ability to innovate by allowing them to test their ideas and transform them into innovative goods and services.
The Commission is working on some preliminary actions in this area.
The SME instrument of the Horizon 2020 programme (the EU Framework programme for Research and Innovation) can be used by SMEs to facilitate their access to technology platforms. Horizon 2020 funds high-potential innovation through the instrument, offering seamless business innovation support under the section Societal Challenges and the specific part Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEITs).
Several studies show that SMEs often cannot find technological services simply due to lack of awareness. The Commission has created a web tool to help SMEs find technological service centres active in the field of KETs. These centres can help SMEs to speed up the commercialisation of their innovation ideas.
The centres have been selected according to a set of capacity and quality criteria. They provide services to enterprises, such as help with prototyping, testing, upscaling, first production and product validation. The tool provides details for 187 technology centres active in the area of KETs. For each centre, an SME contact person has been identified and contact details are provided.