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Robert-Jan SMITS

Bringing good ideas to life

A key part of the Europe 2020 strategy is the Innovation Union initiative which was launched on 6 October. Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General for Research in the European Commission, explains how it will help SMEs prosper.

'Europe can't compete with the rest of the world on its low wages or on its natural resources - or at the expense of its natural environment,' says Robert-Jan Smits, the incoming Director-General of Research at the European Commission, 'The only way we can compete is with our knowledge. And that means that we need to invest in research, education and innovation.'

Innovation is a key element in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy - how to do things smarter and greener. One of the new strategy's seven main flagship initiatives is the Innovation Union, which was launched in Brussels on 6 October. The Innovation Union aims to foster an environment that is conducive to not only developing good ideas, but deploying and commercialising them for the benefit of Europe as a whole.

'A lack of good ideas is not the problem,' believes Mr Smits. 'Europe has a tremendous amount of creativity - the issue lies in how to transform those good ideas into new products and processes. If you compare Europe with the US, we have the same amount of company start-ups, but while ours tend to stay small, in the US a much higher proportion grow to become multinational success stories.'


Latest Information

Calls for Proposals

Title  Specific calls for SMEs
Title  General open calls
  • Lead Story:

    Bringing good ideas to life

    The Innovation Union is a major new initiative under the Europe 2020 strategy. Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General for Research, highlights how this initiative will help SMEs.

  • Actions:

    E-learning Platform to prepare and tutor SMEs

    The European Commission will soon launch an E-Learning Platform that will provide free online training and information to help, encourage and prepare SMEs for research.

  • Points of View:

    Improving exploitation

    An EU-funded project recently set out to improve the dissemination and exploitation of project results. It produced some key findings and recommendations to help SMEs.

  • Success Story:

    Let there be sight

    Group of SMEs develops artificial cornea that could give blind people a second chance to see.

  • Policy:

    Investing in help

    Coordination and Support Action (CSA) projects play a key role in improving framework programmes and helping SMEs get more from their research. Here, we look at some important projects currently underway.

  • Events:

    Building knowledge and networks for SMEs

    Whether looking for new partners or new inspiration, industry and matchmaking events are an invaluable resource for SMEs. Here is a look at the key events taking place in the next few months.

  • Facts & Figures:

    Big investment package puts small businesses first

    A EUR 6.4 billion investment in research and development (R&D) in Europe has been announced and almost EUR 800 million is dedicated to SMEs. Here are the main calls for proposals that focus on SMEs.

    SME funding reaches 14.6%

    The latest progress report on SME participation in the Seventh Frameowrk Progrmme (FP7) reveals that funding levels for SMEs has almost reached the 15% target - a highly encouraging result.

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