New network to assist and advise small businesses on EU policies, programmes and funding.
Small businesses looking for partners in another EU country, seeking advice on how to develop an innovative idea or on how to apply for European research funding can get help from the new Enterprise Europe network.
The new network brings together around 500 organisations, including chambers of commerce, regional development agencies and university technology centres, and 4000 experienced professionals.
"The network provides support to encourage SMEs, especially in their early stages, to become more innovative and strengthen their technological capacity," explained enterprise and industry commissioner Verheugen.
Enterprise Europe extends beyond the EU to include Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Norway, Iceland, Armenia, Israel and Switzerland. With fewer than one in ten small businesses venturing outside their own country (even though national barriers have come down) the network wants to encourage collaboration across borders.
Keeping up with changes in EU rules and policy can be difficult for small companies, so the new network will be a source of information and advice about opportunities and potential implications. It will also raise awareness of the many different sources of EU funding – regional, social, research, environmental – and keep the Commission informed of whether EU policies and initiatives suit companies’ requirements and leave competitiveness and innovative potential unhampered.