Lead Story

Bringing good ideas to life

Robert-Jan SMITS

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.'

Why should it be the EU's job to support companies in such a way?

'We [the European Commission] should get involved as little as possible,' Mr Smits asserts. 'We should only intervene when there are market failures or bottlenecks which need to be addressed at the European level. The Innovation Union is all about creating an environment to let creativity and innovation take place.'

A key part of the Innovation Union is targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 'SMEs are the backbone of the European economy,' continues Mr Smits. 'We have to find ways that allow our small companies to become large companies. This benefits everyone, as bigger companies employ more people, are more sustainable and are better able to compete in the global economy.'

The Framework Programme is one of the key instruments contributing to the objectives of the Innovation Union. However, while the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) is open to all companies and markets, the reality is that over 90% of SMEs will never have anything to do with Brussels or the research programmes. But companies working in the high-technology or research fields are good candidates to participate. This includes (but is not restricted to) the spheres of Biotechnology, Agri-foods, ICT (information and communication technologies)/software and Virtual Reality. It is estimated that 20 000 SMEs will participate in FP7.

Simpler, easier, less red tape

An important aspect of the Innovation Union is to make entrance to the framework programmes simpler and therefore easier for SMEs to gain access to the funding they need. SMEs are particularly disadvantaged here, as many cannot afford to hire consultants to help them complete the application forms. In the future, if you want to work in the Framework Programme, you should not need to hire a consultant; you should be able to complete these forms in yourself. The benefits of participating in this programme stretch much further than the funding though and include a host of other benefits.

'You should never come just for the money,' stresses Mr Smits. 'You should come for the access to new knowledge, to internationalise your business and gain access to new markets and powerful new networks. If you don't need these, the Framework Programme then is not for your company.'

The Innovation Union is about creating the right conditions to allow creativity to take place, and to foster those good ideas so that they bring new products and services to market. Part of creating those better conditions is to agree on the European patent. 'Our current patents system is 15 times more expensive to navigate in Europe than it is in the US. Creating a unified, single patent system would make life so much easier for companies to commercialise good ideas - and a single system is now within reach,' underlines Mr Smits.

Commercial creativity

Innovation is not limited to technological innovation; it also includes social innovations such as new business processes and organisational models. Public procurement in Europe can also play a part in fostering innovative solutions. 'If we can move to a more intelligent system that rewards the most innovative ideas, rather than the lowest cost then this will act as a tremendous incentive to commercialise our collective creativity,' believes Mr Smits.

While the ambitions of the Innovation Union are high, changing cultures and regulatory systems will not happen overnight. 'This is a long term process,' admits Mr Smits. 'We don't just need to improve the innovation climate at a European level; in order to succeed we need to develop it at the national level too. But the Innovation Union brings with it a strong commitment to lead by example, and foster our natural creativity by making it easier for small companies to get on board.'


E-learning Platform to prepare and tutor SMEs


The European Commission will soon launch an E-learning Platform specifically designed for SMEs. The EUR 1 million platform will provide free online training, customised information and a communication forum to help, encourage and prepare SMEs to take part in research under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Participation of SMEs in Framework Programmes is a crucial part of the European Commission's overall goal to improve the EU's competitiveness in global markets. That is why EUR 5 billion has been set aside specifically for SMEs in FP7. And it is why a state-of-the-art E-learning Platform facilitating successful SME participation will soon get off the ground.

'The platform is an interactive learning tool that will help SMEs build a stronger understanding of EU-funded research and, more importantly, acquire the necessary skills to make their research a success,' says Dr Bernd Reichert, head of the SME Unit at the European Commission. 'As a free online platform, the site offers the flexibility and guidance to assist any SME at any time.'

What will it do?

The key role of the E-learning Platform is to provide information and help SMEs learn the skills they need to successfully participate in transnational research. It will cover the entire process, from the formation of an idea and finding partners through to gaining finance and commercialising the end results.

Here is an outline of the E-learning Platform's main features:


It will provide interactive training modules focused on particular subjects that will guide SMEs through specific aspects of research, help build new knowledge and allow SMEs to acquire new skills.

Knowledge management

The platform is a one-stop-shop that aims to tackle issues faced by SMEs such as finding suitable partners and exploiting results. It will therefore feature a knowledge management system for SMEs to find information and guidance specifically tailored to their individual needs.


The platform aims to create a web-based learning community that interacts with one another. It will facilitate two-way communication with contact points and resources (Enterprise Europe Network, IPR Helpdesk, etc.), other SMEs and platform architects so that users can provide feedback on the content and features of the platform.

'As SMEs learn, the European Commission also wants to learn. We want to hear exactly what questions need to be addressed and endeavour to answer them,' Dr Reichert points out.

Game time

The platform will include a game designed as an engaging educational environment for SMEs to learn by experience. Players will have to negotiate different realistic scenarios that incorporate the entire research process, from finding partners to exploiting results.


It will promote the opportunities that FP7 offers SMEs and highlight the support services currently in place to assist SMEs. It will also help the support networks (Enterprise Europe Network, National Contact Points, etc.) improve the services they offer to SMEs. As a result, these networks are heavily involved in the design, promotion and dissemination of the E-learning Platform.

Breaking news

The platform will include the latest SME-relevant information and news regarding FP7.

'We are totally committed to providing SMEs with the best possible help and training to embark on a successful venture into EU-funded research,' concludes Dr Reichert. 'The E-learning Platform is not some quick fix service; it is being developed for the long term and will constantly be improved and adapted to suit changes to this and future framework programmes.'

Points of View:

Improving exploitation

Hartmut Welck

In 2008, an EU-funded project set out to improve the dissemination of SME project results and bridge the gap between research and exploitation in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The project found that while two thirds of the SMEs under investigation could not exploit their results there is enough help out there to make improvements.

The ECOINNO2SME ('Support SMEs in disseminiating and exploiting research results of eco-innovation') project investigated 117 SME projects funded under the Fifth and Sixth Framework Programmes (FP5 and FP6), and evaluated the methodology and exploitation of their results. It found that 78 of the SMEs under investigation could not exploit their results and needed additional support. This needn't be the case, as the project also discovered that there are enough support programmes available to offer help but that SMEs are often unable to identify the programme best suited to their individual needs.

'Our results show that there is a need to fine-tune current support information to make it more easily accessible to those who need it,' says Hartmut Welck, the project coordinator. 'SMEs produce innovative and interesting research and we must do all we can to ensure their results do not go to waste.'

Over a two-year period, ECOINNO2SME examined the entire lifecycle of a project, not just after its completion, to discover where the success or failure was founded. Here is an outline of the project's key findings.

Start as you mean to go on

To achieve successful exploitation at the end of a project, SMEs must lay a solid foundation and conduct the right groundwork from the start - SMEs must first help themselves. There are a number of ways to do this, including:

  • producing an innovative project idea that is well suited to the SME's core business;
  • establishing a work plan for exploitation before conducting the research;
  • creating a well-defined Intellectual Property (IP) arrangement and secure your interests for the period of exploitation well in advance;
  • incorporating demonstration activities (validation, prototyping, etc.) in the project work plan.

Exploit! Exploit! Exploit!

Exploitation must never be an afterthought. It must be at the forefront of everyone's mind throughout the project, from the earliest stages to gathering end results. Ways to help achieve this include:

  • adopting a strong drive to market approach throughout the project;
  • taking a more strategic role in the project;
  • ensuring you have a well-structured consortium and additional strategic partners in place such as market developers and end-users for testing your results;
  • drafting a market access action plan as soon as possible.

Use what's out there

A crucial aspect of the exploitation phase is the distribution of IP rights. This denotes who gets what and how much they can profit from it. SMEs can get lost in IPR (intellectual property rights) issues they are not prepared to handle effectively.

But help is at hand; a large amount of information specifically designed to help SMEs is currently available. For example, information on IP is available as a guide on FP7 rules - Guide to Intellectual Property Rules for FP7 Projects - and through the IPR Helpdesk, which has its own guide and online courses dedicated to IPR management within FP projects for SMEs. Using such information is crucial for SMEs to progress and achieve success. Please visit:

CORDIS holds another opportunity for SMEs to better disseminate their results. Project partners should share their project's newfound knowledge and experience on CORDIS in more detail than is currently done. The more information you provide, the more likely potential customers and exploitation partners will be interested and wish to learn more.

Room for improvement

Once the evaluation was complete, ECOINNO2SME produced a range of recommendations to increase successful exploitation. These suggestions focused on the extra support the European Commission can provide through policy measures, such as:

  • creating specific calls and funding that target and accommodate SMEs;
  • launching SME calls close to the market to ensuring a strong end-user target;
  • reducing bureaucratic procedures;
  • providing better information on further sources of finance to help develop research results and cover exploitation costs;
  • implementing specific industry and market know-how to ensure a more strategic role and responsibility for exploitation within the project such as work package leader. Those that did were found to have more influence on a project's implementation and were more successful in producing a commercially viable product or service.
  • investing more in the Research for the Benefit of SMEs/SME Association Programme (FP7, Capacities) that supports SMEs in outsourcing research services to RTD (research and technology development) performers and is designed to accommodate the specific needs of SMEs.

'We are working hard to publicise our findings - both the information and recommendations - as widely as possible. We need to reassure SMEs that help is out there and their work will not be wasted,' concludes Mr Welck.

Related article

  • See the 'Actions' story of this SME Update. It covers the new E-learning Platform that will provide free online training, customised information and a communication forum to help, encourage and prepare SMEs to take part in research under FP7.

Further information:

Success Story:

Let there be sight

Wolfgang G.K. Müller-Lierheim

Transplanting the human cornea (1) can enable a blind person to see. But it requires the perfect human donor match and there are no guarantees of success. A group of EU-funded SMEs and researchers, however, has developed an artificial cornea that offers failed transplant patients a potentially life-changing alternative.

Every year in Europe, more than 40 000 people are added to the cornea transplant waiting list. Various problems related to traditional transplant procedures only add to the number: finding a compatible human donor; success rates being as low as 50%; and many patients rejecting their new cornea and suffering serious side effects.

From 2005 to 2008 , a consortium of 10 European SMEs and research institutes embarked on a research project to help those patients whose traditional transplant procedure failed. The group received EUR 1.18 million in funding under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) to design and produce an artificial cornea implant.

Three years later, the CORNEA ('Development of an artificial cornea for the human eye') research project successfully produced an implant that is now approved as a safe, custom-made medical device.

'Our project was a success because we had a high level multidisciplinary consortium whose abilities complemented each other to contribute to the end goal,' says Dr Wolfgang Müller-Lierheim, the project's coordinator. “We've had to overcome some extreme challenges, constantly question our targets and approaches and make decisions quickly and unanimously - not to mention create something that has never been achieved. You cannot imagine how happy we all are about our achievements.'

Vision for success

Creating an artificial cornea is a scientific and technological challenge. It must have the right physical, chemical and biological properties to match the human eye - an extremely complex organ. The CORNEA project succeeded where many other teams have failed thanks to the range of capabilities and expertise that each of the 10 partners contributed.

The project was coordinated solely by Dr Müller-Lierheim of CORONIS GmbH, an SME based in Germany, and brought together experts from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK. The six SMEs involved brought some key abilities to the project including technical and developmental resources, manufacturing capacity and, crucially, market access.

Each SME partner delivered a different area of expertise to the project:

  • CORONIS used its 30 years' experience in international standards and medical device regulatory affairs to help get past the red tape.
  • IOI International, based in the UK, brought its patented 'flexicornea' design to the project. The final artificial cornea is in fact based on the innovative design.
  • Dr Schmidt Intraocularlinsen, also from Germany, brought more than 50 years' experience in precision mechanics and intraocular lenses to the project.
  • Rockmed, an opthalmic-surgical device marketing company from the Netherlands, used its strong market presence in the Netherlands and Belgium to promote the project.
  • Rhine-Tec from Germany adapted its new automatic video specular microscope to assist the CORNEA project. The specialist instrument helped in preclinical performance testing of the implant.
  • Peschke, a German-based specialised ophthalmic-surgical instrument marketing company, used its strong market presence in Germany to endorse the project.

The next step

The first MIRO CORNEA UR keratoprotheses - to give it its full name - have been implanted in human eyes for over a year and are performing as expected. The team has now initiated a long-term post-market clinical follow-up study on 40 patients.

'SMEs bring their own unique attitude and standing to the research process,' concludes Dr Müller-Lierheim. 'They must be more cost effective than larger organisations, which can mean they are more driven and efficient; and they provide hands-on management, clear targets and realistic expectations. In short, SMEs are driven by the need to succeed and that ambition often leads to their success.'

  • Contact:
    Dr Wolfgang G.K. Müller-Lierheim
    Project Coordinator, CORONIS GmbH
    Tel: +49-89-5203 2880
    E-mail: ml@coronis.net


Investing in help

Policy Update

In addition to financing research projects, the European Commission invests in Coordination and Support Action (CSA) projects that aim to improve framework programmes and help SMEs overcome the barriers of participation. These projects evaluate past programmes and support structures, and analyse lessons learnt from completed projects to find new and better ways of assisting SMEs. Here, we take a look at some of the six CSAs currently underway. The last three CSAs focus on the Research and Development and Innovation programmes at national and regional level.

'We are constantly working to improve the systems and support we offer to bring more SMEs to the world of research and to help those already involved achieve their goals,' says Dr Bernd Reichert, Head of the SME Unit at the European Commission. 'By looking back at past efforts, we can understand what areas need work and what areas must be developed further.'

CSAs have three main aims:

  • to support the implementation of the Seventh Framwork Programme (FP7);
  • to help prepare future framework programmes;
  • to stimulate, encourage and facilitate the participation of SMEs.

Here is a look at some recently concluded CSAs and some that are still underway.

EcoInno2SME - concluded

The European Commission is aware of the fact that many SMEs complete their research successfully but find it difficult to get their results to market. The EcoInno2SME project set out to close the gap between conducting research and exploiting results.

Over the course of 2 years, the project partners investigated 117 SME projects from the Fifth and Sixth Framework Programmes (FP5 and FP6) and found that two thirds of those SMEs under investigation could not exploit their results but that enough help is available to make improvements.

The CSA project produced a range of recommendations to improve the situation and help SMEs find the assistance they need to further their results.

For more information: please see the Points of View article of this SME Update, which covers EcoInno2SME in more detail.

USEandDIFFUSE - concluded

USEandDIFFUSE aimed to develop a best practice manual covering the exploitation and dissemination of research results involving SMEs.

The project, which ended recently, carried out an in-depth review and analysis of SME-related research and technological development (RTD) projects to identify those projects that were most successful in disseminating and exploiting results. This review highlights best practices and provides a solid foundation upon which future projects can build and develop successful exploitation strategies.

'This has been a very timely and worthwhile project as Europe understands the very significant role that research and development (R&D) can play in raising the competitiveness and added value of our SME sector,' says Ms Anna Stachowicz, coordinator of the USEandDIFFUSE project, based at Cracow University of Technology in Poland.

For more information, please visit: http://www.useanddiffuse.eu/.

PRESTO - concluded

Collaborations between European Technology Platforms (ETPs) and SME associations (SMEAs) are crucial for raising awareness about the activities and objectives of both groups. PRESTO set out to build a better understanding and coordination of efforts between SMEAs and ETPs. It also aimed to engage SMEs and SMEAs in the European RTD policymaking process.

Now complete, the project produced a simple conclusion: although dialogue between ETPs and SMEAs took place, in the absence of external incentives (specific cooperation instruments and financial support) and a formal framework (regular meetings between key bodies), it is unlikely that a fruitful and sustainable cooperation between ETPs and SMEAs can happen.

'SMEAs are the ideal platform to bring ETPs and SMEs together,' says Eduardo Herrmann, the project's manager. 'They are a valuable source of information on what affects the way SMEs behave and what SMEs expect from an ETP. By creating a dialogue between both groups, we can aid the European Commission's policymaking process to facilitate stronger cooperation between ETPs and SMEs.'

For more information, please visit: http://www.steinbeis-europa.de

Three projects studying R&D&I at regional/national level

Recently, three CSAs focusing on Research and Development and Innovation (R&D&I) programmes collaborated to share information and insights, and to discuss potential improvements to SME policy. These projects set out to examine regional/national programmes to benchmark the support they offer and create a definitive set of characteristics for an effective SME programme. These projects included:


The Making Progress and Economic enhancement a Reality for SMEs (MaPEeR SME) project is analysing existing SME R&D and, in particular, environmental research programmes as well identifying and overcoming barriers blocking SMEs wishing to innovate. Operating at the EU, national and regional level, the comprehensive 2-year project aims to identify key SME-friendly programme characteristics based on benchmarking some 200 support programmes from 28 countries; this is no small feat.

The project is also launching the European SME Experts' Panel, which develops recommendations to help align research programmes with the needs of SMEs and to identify synergies between different policy measures.

'SMEs make up 99% of all European companies and their involvement in research should be a natural consequence of their importance in European economics,' says Dr Julián Seseña, the project's coordinator. 'The aim of the Experts' Panel is to create recommendations that will advise on future design of regional, national and European level research programmes to generate more active involvement of SMEs.'

The project is now in the final phase of analysis and has already generated some initial findings, including the need to further exploit current R&D platforms, such as technology platforms, and for more flexibility in R&D programmes. The project team will present its findings in detail at an annual event on 16 November 2010.


The Rapport project aims to identify the different needs of SMEs by assessing the effectiveness of current knowledge and technology transfer initiatives (also in the private sector) at fulfilling those needs. Many believe current policies and programmes focus too much on R&D-intensive and high-tech SMEs, thus neglecting the vast majority of SMEs that are lacking technological know-how. After all, a company can innovate without undertaking research.

'We need to tailor innovation policy towards general SMEs which are not specialist technical geniuses but just a normal company of enthusiastic and talented individuals who have a good idea [of what] they wish to explore,' says Dr George Tsekouras, the project's coordinator. 'These SMEs tend to have low absorptive capacities; they do not know how to make connections with research institutes and must acquire new skills in order to create an innovation plan and knowledge transfer.'

The first interim results of the project are expected in early 2011.

Good Practices in Innovation Support Measures for SMEs

The GPrix project is undertaking a study on public support measures for SMEs from traditional sectors - often thought to be inactive in innovation. The project aims to answer the question: which support measures help local communities prosper in the ever-changing global economy?

Launched in December 2009, the project will provide a comprehensive insight into the design and implementation of SME research and innovation support measures, actions, services and networks at national and regional level, and the impact they have on SMEs from traditional sectors, which represent the vast majority of companies in Europe.

'Despite their recent decline, traditional sectors are still a major source of wealth and employment in regional economies,' explains Pedro Soutinho, the project's coordinator.. 'But they are occasionally overlooked by public support programmes in favour of high-growth companies from high-tech sectors. Our project will assess the status of public support for those sectors to understand what really works.'

The project expects its first results in January 2011 and will conclude in December 2011.

For more information on all three of these R&D&I project, please visit:


Building knowledge and networks for SMEs


The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) organises a wide variety of networking events across Europe. These brokerage events are designed specifically to help SMEs find research partners, discuss opportunities, exchange technologies and services, and provide general assistance in the undertaking of EU-funded research.

Here is a guide to upcoming matchmaking events, including the SME Conference taking place in November under the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Special Event – November

SME Conference 2010

Event type: Policy conference
Event date: 17 - 18 November 2010
Location: Brussels, Belgium

The SME Conference is unique among SME-targeted events and is a world first*.

Organised by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in collaboration with the European Commission, the SME Conference focuses entirely on the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises and allows the SMEs themselves to discuss improvements to framework programmes with some of the most senior individuals involved in policymaking.

HRH Prince Philippe de Belgique will open the conference, which around 400 organisations are expected to attend.

The two-day event will focus on three key areas:

  • What makes a good idea?
  • How to transform a good idea into a viable proposition?
  • How to tackle current societal challenges and different markets?

Each session at the event will be chaired by a 'visionary and well-known' speaker whose role will be to moderate proceedings, but also to stimulate new discussions and develop conversations and ideas that enter new horizons.

One of these moderators/agitators is John Wolpert. Best known for his work at IBM's Extreme Blue incubator for talent, technology and emerging business, Mr Wolpert has spent the past several years running innovation programmes in Europe and Australia. Today, he's in California, US, building Team upStart LLC., which helps large companies develop top entrepreneurial talent while executing high-speed, low-cost projects that prove new business opportunities.

The aim of the SME Conference is to bring some conclusions to the European Council so that changes and improvements can be made.

So if you wish to air your views and opinions on framework programmes and the support available to SMEs, this is your chance to be heard.

*The SME Conference is a world first because both a press briefing and the closing session, which will provide a summary of all the arguments debated so far, will be broadcast live on the Internet with simultaneous interpretation in six different languages.

The SME Conference 2010 will take place in Brussels, Belgium on 17 and 18 November 2010.

So far, more than 160 organisations have registered to attend the conference. If you wish to take part, please register at: www.smeconference2010.be

For further information and to view the full agenda for the event, please visit:


October 2010

SIAL Match 2010

Event date: 18 - 21 October 2010
Location: Paris, France

EEN is organising an international brokerage event to take place during SIAL (Salon International de l'Agroalimentaire), a global marketplace for all those involved in the food industry. Around 5 500 exhibitors are expected at the event, which provides an opportunity for SMEs to develop new business relationships, exchange experiences and learn more about the global food market.


TEHNOMA Partnering 2010

Event date: 19 October 2010
Location: Skopje, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The Tehnoma Fair is a marketplace of more than 500 exhibitors involved in the metal industry, metallurgy, electrical engineering, building materials and non-metals. The European Information and Innovation Centre is organising a brokerage event during the international fair for SMEs to develop business relations and exchange technologies.


NEXT 2010
Date: 19 - 21 October 2010
Location: Turku, Finland

New Exploratory Technologies (NEXT) 2010 is an international conference for organisations working in biotechnology, LED-technology and new exploratory technologies. EEN is organising a matchmaking event during the conference for companies interested in these subjects based in Europe and South Korea.


b2fair 2010
Date: 20 - 21 October 2010
Location: Liège, Belgium

The b2fair is a two-day matchmaking event specifically designed to promote bilateral business relations and encourage business cooperation. It offers the perfect platform for SMEs to discuss ideas and opportunities with ICT enterprises, ICT users, subcontractors, R&D partners and more. The event takes place during the Forum des Entrepreneurs by Initiatives trade fair.


Date: 21 October 2010
Location: Brno, Czech Republic

Gate2BrnoBiotech is a biotechnology conference that acts as a platform for companies and research institutes to strengthen the exploitation of research results in the industrial sector. The event provides information on the latest biotechnology and biomedical research projects and organises face-to-face meetings and interaction between potential partners.


B2B @ SASO Fair
Date: 22 October 2010
Location: Split, Croatia

EEN is organising a B2B matchmaking event during the international SASO Fair. SASO is a major construction technology, metal industry and electrical engineering fair. More than 2 400 exhibitors are expected to attend, providing SMEs a perfect opportunity to establish new business relations and technology transfers.


Salon Pyme
Date: 22 October 2010
Location: Santiago, Chile

Outside of Europe, the EEN operates an office in Chile - the only one in Latin America. This office is organising a matchmaking event for companies and institutes operating in the tourism and food sectors. The event will be an opportunity for participants to meet suppliers and customers of European and Latin American companies that require new technologies and services to develop their businesses.


BioFIT: Fostering Innovation and Transfer
Date: 26 - 27 October 2010
Location: Lille, France

BioFIT has one goal: to stimulate and facilitate technology transfer and collaboration in the life science sector. The event offers participants a partnering platform, hands-on guidance on technology transfer and information on license opportunities.


Biotech 2010
Date: 27 October 2010
Location: Milan, Italy

Running alongside Biotech 2010, the international event and conference on biotechnologies, this matchmaking event offers SMEs the opportunity to meet companies and research centres from the biotech sector. The event will focus on nutraceutics and cosmetics. Attendees are expected from Europe, Canada, the US and India.


Aachen Membrane Kolloquium 2010
Date: 28 - 29 October 2010
Location: Aachen, Germany

Aachen Membrane Kolloquium is an international conference on industrial membrane applications that attracts membrane manufacturers, developers and end-users. A matchmaking event will take place during the conference. This will be a good opportunity for participants to establish new contacts and develop transnational synergies to expand research activities.


November 2010


Event date: 02 - 05 November 2010
Location: Paris, France

MIDEST is the world's largest exhibition exclusively dedicated to industrial subcontracting and face-to-face meetings. The event offers a comprehensive sourcing platform for international suppliers of industrial subcontracting and aims to create partnerships among the metal working, plastics, electronics and industry services.


AgroFood and Logistics

Event date: 03 - 05 November 2010
Location: Györ, Hungary

This brokerage event focuses on the AgroFood and Logistics sectors and invites companies from Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands to take part. Organised by EEN and the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce, it offers a unique opportunity to build new business relations with key organisations.


Extremadura AgroFood Marketplace 2010

Date: 04 November 2010
Location: Don Benito, Spain

This matchmaking event presents an international, technological scenario for the latest European creations in food technology and AgroFood. It offers participants the chance to hold bilateral meetings and establish cooperative agreements on technology transfer. The free event takes place alongside FIAL, the major AgroFood fair.


Ecobusiness Cooperation
Date: 04 - 05 November 2010
Location: Rimini, Italy

This free cooperation event is aimed at companies, universities and research institutes involved in energy recovery and sustainability. It affords participants the chance to meet potential partners, as well as to evaluate business opportunities and technological transfers through pre-arranged face-to-face meetings. The event takes place during ECOMONDO, the largest Italian trade fair for the environmental industry.


HERVEX (Hydraulics, pneumatics, sealing systems)
Date: 10 - 12 November 2010
Location: Calimanesti-Caciulata, Romania

Since 1992, HERVEX has established itself as a meeting place for engineers in the hydraulics, pneumatics and sealing system industries. The event is designed for manufacturers, scientists and end-users to present and discuss future developments, services and product innovations.


ITN – Infrastructure, Telematics and Navigation
Date: 12 November 2010
Location: Turin, Italy

The ITN exhibition is the first event of its kind dedicated to smart infrastructure, infomobility and information systems. During the expo, a matchmaking event will take place for companies and research institutes to meet and discuss partnering opportunities. The event is aimed at specialised builders, system integrators and service providers involved in the development of ICT solutions.


SICUREZZA 2010 (Security)
Date: 17 - 18 November 2010
Location: Milan, Italy

SICUREZZA is one of the world's leading international security exhibitions. EEN is organising a matchmaking event during the exhibition for organisations involved in anti-intrusion, fire detection, passive defence systems, building automation, territorial protection and terrorist attacks. More than 500 exhibitors and 21 000 visitors are expected to attend the exhibition.


MEDICA 2010 (Medical)
Date: 18 - 19 November 2010
Location: Düsseldorf, Germany

MEDICA is the world's largest fair in the medical sector. During the exhibition, a healthcare matchmaking event will take place offering scheduled meetings with potential business and research partners. Last year, 510 meetings took place with 160 participants from 21 countries.


denkmal (Conservation, restoration, renovation)
Date: 19 November 2010
Location: Leipzig, Germany

Since 1994, denkmal has been a platform for heritage conservation, restoration and building renovation that attracts trade, professional and private visitors. CONTACT International Business Meetings will take place alongside the event, which offers a unique communications platform for networking with national and international suppliers and providers.


MATCHING 2010 at ECO4B (Environment)
Date: 22 - 24 November 2010
Location: Milan, Italy

Environment Cooperation for Business (ECO4B) is a project co-funded by the European Commission to promote new international business opportunities in the fields of energy, renewables and the environment. MATCHING 2010 takes place during ECO4B and is an opportunity for SMEs to meet, discuss and partner with businesses and research institutes to innovate and internationalise their activities.


Cooperation forum on eGovernment
Date: 22 November 2010
Location: Vienna, Austria

This matchmaking event gives participants the chance to meet and connect with Austria's leading eGovernment providers and to gain access to technological expertise and new business channels. The event is free and offers pre-arranged meetings to establish potential cooperation.


ENERGETICS 2010 (Energy services)
Date: 24 November 2010
Location: Lublin, Poland

A brokerage event made up of bilateral meetings will take place during the international ENERGETICS fair. The meetings aim to create discussions and partnerships between businesses and research institutes involved in all forms of energy services and technology. A total of 135 meetings took place last year and even more are expected in 2010.


RENEXPO 2010 (Renewable energy)
Date: 24 - 25 November 2010
Location: Bucharest, Romania

RENEXPO is an international trade fair and conference for renewable energy and energy efficient construction and renovation. A brokerage event will take place during the fair for companies interested in collaborating with Romanian research or business representatives.


ECOMEDIU 2010 (Quality control)
Date: 24 - 26 November 2010
Location: Arad, Romania

ECOMEDIU is an international exhibition of equipment and machinery used for the analysis and quality control of water, air, soil, urban hygiene and sanitation equipment. EEN is organising a matchmaking event during the exhibition for participants to make contact with business partners and research centres from all over Europe.


POLEKO 2010 (Environmental protection)
Date: 24 November 2010
Location: Poznan, Poland

EEN is organising a Transnational Technology Transfer Day to take place during POLEKO, one of the largest environmental protection and municipal service exhibitions in Europe. More than 900 exhibitors from 23 countries are expected to take part, providing SMEs with the opportunity to discuss business and research opportunities.


Polymeric Composites Exhibition
Date: 26 - 28 November 2010
Location: Izmir, Turkey

The Polymeric Composites Exhibition attracts industrialists and academia involved in polymeric composites. As well as informing visitors of the latest applications and technologies, the exhibition includes a brokerage event to help establish new commercial collaborations and technology transfers within the sector.


Natural Stone
Date: 26 November 2010
Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Natural Stone is the second largest marble fair in the world. It covers marble and natural stone products and processing technology. EEN is organising a brokerage event to take place during the fair, giving participants the chance to make new contacts with potential business and research partners.


9th ETAP Forum on Eco-innovation

Financing the eco-innovators
Event date: 29 - 30 November 2010
Location: Plaza Hotel, Brussels


December 2010

AgroMatch (Biomass, Bioenergy)

Event date: 01 - 02 December 2010
Location: Herning, Denmark

AgroMatch is an international matchmaking event for organisations involved in biomass and bioenergy. The event provides more than 150 participants from all over Europe the opportunity to find new technologies and partnerships. Attendees can take part in up to 20 meetings at the 2-day event.


Pro'energy (Renewable energy)

Event date: 08 - 10 December
Location: Montpellier, France

Pro'energy Technological Business Meetings is set to take place during Energaïa, the international renewable energies exhibition. Organised by EEN, Pro'energy offers organisations involved in renewable energy the chance to participate in B2B and technological meetings to discuss potential innovation and research partnerships.


January 2011

BE2WEEN – Terratec / Enertec (Environment)

Event date: 25 - 26 January 2011
Location: Leipzig, Germany

The BE2WEEN project aims to improve cooperation among SMEs and their development in foreign markets by hosting matchmaking events at key industry fairs. Teratec and Enertec are dual trade fairs that take place at the same time. Together, they are one of Germany's largest environmental trade fairs covering energy technology, supply and service. BE2WEEN will host a brokerage event at the dual trade fairs.


Facts & Figures:

EUR 6.4 billion - Big investment package puts small businesses first

Facts & Figures

The largest ever investment in research and innovation in Europe has been announced. The EUR 6.4 billion package calls for new research proposals and gives top priority to SMEs with close to EUR 800 million dedicated to them. Here we highlight some of the calls for proposals that are most relevant to SMEs.

The record-breaking EUR 6.4 billion investment covers a vast range of scientific disciplines, public policy and commercial sectors. It targets around 16 000 participants from research institutes and industry, including some 3 000 SMEs, and aims to create more than 165 000 jobs.

'Investment in research and innovation is the only smart and lasting way out of [the] crisis and towards sustainable and socially equitable growth,' says Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. 'This package will contribute to new and better products and services, a more competitive and greener Europe, and a better society with a higher quality of life. This is a huge and efficient economic stimulus and an investment in our future.'

Here is a look at some of the calls for proposals that are of particular relevance for SMEs.

Capacities Programme

Research for the benefit of SMEs and SME Associations

Budget: EUR 189 million
Deadline: 8 December 2010

This call is aimed at innovators who wish to solve technical problems and acquire technological know-how to produce new products and services. It is for SMEs and their associations that do not have the necessary in-house expertise and must outsource research to a research performer.

A new Demonstration Action specifically for SMEs

Budget: EUR 15 million
Deadline: 8 December 2010

To be eligible for this call, the project must match the following criteria:

  • At least three participants must be independent SMEs established in at least three Member States or Associated States.
  • These three SMEs must be/have been participants together in a Cooperative Research project under the lat FP6 call (FP6-2004-SME-COOP) OR in a Research for SMEs project in FP7.
  • SMEs who were members together of the ‘SME core group’ in the FP6-2004-SME-COLL call OR who are members together of the ‘other enterprises or end users’ in a Research for SME Associations project in FP7 may also participate.
  • At least 75% of the declared costs must be carried out by the SME(s).

  • For further information:

Cooperation Programme

There are five key 'themes' within the Cooperation Programme that emphasise the participation of SMEs. Within these 'themes', between 5% and 50% of the EU contribution for each project, depending on the call, has been earmarked for SMEs.

The relevant SME calls include:

Nanoscience, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies

Budget: EUR 40 million
Deadline: 4 November 2010

Four topics targeting SMEs:


Two calls have been published under the Health theme:

  1. The Call: FP7-HEALTH-2010-single-stage
    Budget: EUR 160.5 million (indicative)
    Deadline: 10 November 2010
  2. The Call: FP7-HEALTH-2011-two-stage
    Budget: EUR 498 million (indicative)
    Deadline: 13 October 2010 (for stage 1 proposals)

Within these calls, there are eight topics that target SMES:

  • Developing tools and technologies for high-throughput research.
  • Genome-based biomarkers for patient stratification and pharmacogenomic strategies.
  • Tools, technologies & devices for application in regenerative medicine.
  • Development and production of new, high-affinity protein scaffolds for therapeutic use.
  • Development of multi-analyte diagnostic tests.
  • Development of tools to control microbial biofilms with relevance to clinical drug resistance.
  • Evaluation and validation studies of clinically useful biomarkers in prevention and management of cardiovascular disease.
  • New methodologies for clinical trials in personalised medicine.

The EU contribution ranges between 15% to 50% of the total budget of the project, depending on the particular call.

Food, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Biotechnology Research (KBBE)

Budget: EUR 240.27 million
Deadline: 25 January 2011

Three topics targeting SMEs:

  • Sustainable production and management of biological resources from land, forest and aquatic environment.
  • Fork to farm: Food (including seafood), health and well-being.
  • Life sciences, biotechnology and biochemistry for sustainable non-food products and processes.

In the 30 SME-targeted topics of the main KBBE call, the total EU contribution allocated to SMEs in the consortia ranges between 10% and 50%.

For the above call budget, EUR 3 million concerns the topic KBBE.2011.1.3-06 Development of next generation European system for cattle evaluation, which uses the same funding scheme of the Capacities Programme: Research for the benefit of SMEs. The FP7-KBBE-2011-5-SME call containing this one topic is part of the main KBBE call FP7-KBBE-2011-5.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

FP7 ICT WP 2011-2012 foresees two calls targeting SMEs:

  1. Objective ICT-2011.9.2 High Tech Research Intensive SMEs in FET research, part of the call FP7-ICT-2011-C.
    Budget: EUR 9 million (indicative 2011 + 2012 budgets)
    Deadline: 11 September 2012
  2. Objective ICT-2011.4.1 SME Initiative on Digital Content and Languages, call FP7-ICT-2011-SME-DCL.
    Budget: EUR 35 million (indicative 2011 budget)
    Deadline: The call is set to be published on 1 February 2011.


The Call: FP7-ENERGY-2011-1
Budget: EUR 74 million
Deadline: 16 November 2010

This call includes two topics where SME participation is explicitly encouraged:

  1. ENERGY.2011.3.7-1: Development of new or improved sustainable bio-energy carriers.
  2. ENERGY.2011.1.4.1-1: Revisiting solar-thermal systems for using breakthroughs in scientific and technological fields.

In order to maximise industrial relevance and impact of the research effort, the active participation of relevant industrial partners, including SMEs and research organisations, is seen as essential to achieve the expected impact.

The Call: FP7-OCEAN-2011
Budget: Ranges from EUR 9-14 million.

The Energy Theme will contribute a further EUR 5 million to the Ocean call.

A composition of multi-sector partners, industrial partners and relevant end users, particularly SMEs, is essential for the implementation of the project and will be considered during the evaluation of the criterion related to 'implementation'.

Match your needs

To find the Call that best matches your innovation needs and R&D interests, please contact your FP7 contact point in your country:

National Level

National Contact Point:

Regional Level

Enterprise Europe Network:

SME funding reaches 14.6%

The 6th progress report on SME participation in FP7 is soon to be published and the first details are starting to come in.

The key result is that on average 14.6% of EU funding in the various themes of the Cooperation Programme has gone to SMEs. That is just below the overall target of 15%, and an increase on the previous progress report.

'This is great news and shows that investment in SMEs continues to grow,' says Dr Bernd Reichert, head of the SME Unit. 'The fact that four themes have exceeded the 15% target is even more encouraging. But we must continue to work on the remaining themes and lift overall contribution above and beyond our ambitions.'

See graph below: