Facts & Figures:
Trend shows EUR 1 billion could be available to SMEs annually in the Co-operation programme.
The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) is designed to support a wide range of participants, but first indicators on small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) participation show organisations are enjoying increased access to community-funded research programmes.
The first report on SME participation in FP7, which focuses on the Cooperation programme, reveals that increasing numbers of SMEs are participating in the various themes of FP7 compared with its immediate predecessor, FP6. This also means that consortia are increasingly disposed to including SME participants in their research.
It seems that FP7's simplification procedures have contributed to SMEs increasing their share of the research pie. Such procedures include less frequent reporting, the reduced need for audit certificates and bank guarantees, and increased funding levels for research - with the upper funding ceiling for SMEs being increased to 75% from the 50% that was available under FP6.
Throughout the seven years of FP7, the Community will have allocated over EUR 32 billion to collaborative research projects under the banner of the Cooperation programme. Divided into 10 distinct themes, the programme supports all types of research activities carried out by different research bodies in transnational cooperation. Within each theme, there are a variety of SME-targeted topics in which research-intensive SMEs should play a leading role.
If this positive trend continues, it is estimated that on average, EUR 1 billion in research funding will be made available to SMEs annually throughout the lifespan of FP7.
The 10 themes reflect the most important fields of knowledge and technology where research excellence is particularly important to enhancing Europe's ability to address its social, economic, public health, environmental and industrial challenges of the future.