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SME TechWeb supports - European innovation

Background description

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a crucial role in Europe’s economic competitiveness. They account for 99.8% of all EU enterprises and two-thirds of all employment, but they are also a primary source of dynamism and change, particularly in technological fields. Although they form a heterogeneous community, all SMEs are confronted with increased competition resulting from expanding EU and global markets and the need to innovate constantly and to accommodate advances in technology. Because of their economic importance and the particular difficulties they face, national and regional governments, including the EU, work hard to foster small business, although many European SMEs are still unaware of the opportunities that exist under the Union’s Research Framework Programmes.

Profile

Launched under the EU’s Fifth Research Framework Programme (FP5), SME TechWeb is the on-line R&D gateway for European SMEs, offering a range of information on how to take part in EU-funded research activities. SME TechWeb is designed to help technology-oriented companies with fewer than 250 employees, and especially those with an interest in innovation and internationalisation. Using clear, simple language and presenting numerous concrete examples of successful projects, SME TechWeb is of particular value to those applying for research funding. Interested parties can read about SME participation in the Sixth Research Framework Programme (FP6) and download the latest versions of working documents that explain support for SME participation. Calls for proposals, workshops and special events are announced regularly.

Full title: SME TechWeb
Project coordinator: Martina DALY, Research and SMEs Unit
Website

Science in society significance

The European Union attaches great importance to the participation of SMEs in its Research Framework Programme. Under FP6, where at least 15% of funding is now dedicated to SMEs, the main routes for their participation are the Networks of Excellence, Integrated Projects and Specific Targeted Research Projects, in seven priority thematic areas. Aiding, counselling, assisting and protecting the interests of small businesses is now seen as an important part of maintaining and strengthening the European economy, helping small and often family-run enterprises to survive and prosper. For members of the SME community who are working hard to keep ahead in today’s competitive and expanding markets but who do not know enough about research opportunities, SME TechWeb provides an invaluable means of tapping into EU R&D funding and support.

Results/outcomes

SME TechWeb aims to increase the participation and success of European SMEs in EU-funded research. It provides:

  • News, information and announcements of interest to SMEs in European research;
  • Advice for SMEs seeking support for research activities;
  • Specific information on opportunities under the current EU Research Framework Programme;
  • Step-by-step instructions for EU-funding applicants, from identification of needs to the commercial exploitation of results;
  • Shared knowledge and experiences of small business with respect to growth management;
  • Examples of ongoing and completed projects.

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