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Policy Update:

Enhancing the impact of SME participation in research

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The small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) Unit is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to optimise SMEs' participation in and benefit from Community research Framework programmes. The first wave of activities is the implementation of three projects funded under the call FP7-2007-SME-3.

The USEandDiffuse and ECOinno2SME projects will identify good practice for disseminating and then exploiting research results. USEandDiffuse is targeting the health and information and communication technologies (ICT) sectors. A central component of the project will be the creation of a Best Practice Manual which will illustrate the most effective ways of presenting and exploiting RTD results. A series of methodologies should also evaluate their market potential.

ECOinno2SME has as its focus the ECO-innovation segment, more specifically life sciences (biotechnology and agriculture), environment and energy. It will evaluate completed FP5 and FP6 projects, emphasising SME involvement to identify why these companies performed successfully, and then explore ways of publicising the findings effectively.

The aim of the third project - PRESTO - is to identify priority research topics for SME Associations by establishing a close and sustainable dialogue with European Technology Platforms (ETPs). These help industrial and academic research communities to coordinate their research and tailor it to a common strategic research agenda (SRA) which sets out research and development goals.

PRESTO will address the construction sector, especially three construction-associated domains - energy, ICT and new materials - and encourage SME Associations to create ETP working groups.

All three projects started on 1 February 2008 and meetings kicked off at the end of February, involving 21 participants from 10 different countries.