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Success Stories:

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Organised by the French SME support agency, OSEO, DG Research and the French government, this month’s two-day debate - ‘EU, Research and SMEs: Innovation in Motion’ - featured the richness and diversity of just over 30 SMEs which had used the EC’s financial and technical support mechanisms to help them achieve their commercial objectives. We provide a selection below.

Ark Therapeutics (UK)

Focuses on areas of high, unmet clinical need in vascular disease, wound care and cancer. “The company would not have been founded without initial funding of its early stage research from the EC to the academic founders,” says Scientific Director, John Martin. “We were formed to capitalise on opportunities arising from research advances made in previous rounds of Framework Programmes, so its very existence is a testament to the significant long-term impact of EU research investment.”

Beti Pletiva (Slovenia)

Textile manufacturer. “FP6 funding was essential, as it gave us the chance to implement our project (WASHCONTROL) and obtain very good results. The consulting offered has also been very important for developing the project,” says Production Director, Romana Petrovic.

Cellectis (France)

Genome engineering. Believes EU and French government support for cross-border projects is a very important resource for helping SMEs achieve a more global positioning and business strategy. “Networking has proved to be very important, especially via scientific networks of partners with experience in cross-border consortia,” says Vice-President of Corporate Development, David Sourdive. “In nearly all cases, the collaboration initiated during these projects has extended far beyond the original project.”

Fianium (UK)

Develops and produces ultra-fast fibre lasers. “FP6 funding helped us complete our development programme. Research networks have also been very important in solving inevitable technical problems, especially within tight timeframes,” says CEO, Anatoly Grudinin. “During our Uranus project, we increased sales four-fold, doubled our manpower and laid a sold foundation for future growth.”

GAT Food Essentials GmbH (Austria)

This research-driven company has developed a range of cancer-fighting antioxidants. With extremely limited funds of its own, around €1 million of FP6 funding has been used for product development. “We also benefited from collaboration with universities that contributed to the physiological research dimension of the industrial development,” says CEO, Dr Barbara Gimeno. “The in vitro and clinical studies allowed us to enter the Food Additive Market with a scientific dossier that covered the product and its benefits.”

Inter-Euro Technology (Ireland)

Provides a specialised environmental service to electroplating and other surface treatment companies. “Our involvement in EU projects has opened up new markets and opportunities for us. The process of submitting proposals, even those not funded, has opened up additional networks of expertise with many organisations and third level institutions in a large number of countries,” says Managing Director, Dr Jimmie Parkes.

Nanocyl SA (Belgium)

Produces nano materials. FP6 funding has paid for half the company’s project costs (regional funds often offer an extra 25 per cent). “This means that we can fend off the competition from large international companies, including those from low-wage countries such as China,” says Research and Development Director, Dr Frederic Luizi. “European programmes are particularly interesting for our company as they allow us to build up wide-ranging business and research networks. Thanks to project consortia that bring together partners, ranging from manufacturers to end users, we can gain a perspective across the entire value chain. This allows us to develop products at a much faster pace,” he adds.

Lifa IAQ (Finland)

Produces ventilation products. “Our (Airsecure) project has not yet increased sales for the companies involved. But together with our partners, we are certain that it will do so in the near future,” says CEO, Vesa Mäkipää. “Involvement in the project has opened up new markets and improved the market positioning of the SMEs involved.”

Net7 (Italy)

Innovative software publisher. “EC support is especially valuable for smaller companies like us which would not otherwise be able to make the high-risk investments in research needed to stay up to date with the latest technological trends and innovations,” says Technical Director, Michele Barbera. “Private consulting and acting as a National Contact Point has also played a major role in providing us with access to support.”

Plásticos Dúrex SA (Spain)

Produces parts for the automotive sector. According to CEO, Sergio Deike, access to European scale networks in FP6 opened up a new world of knowledge and commercial possibilities for the company. “Our ISSEA project generated a five per cent increase in sales. It has also opened up new markets and generally improved our corporate image,” says Deike.

RWP GmbH (Germany)

Develops and produces simulation software for the manufacturing industry. Its FP6 IDEA project has accounted for 20 per cent of company sales. “It was as a result of this project that we started to develop internationally,” says CEO, Konrad Weiss. “Due to the new technologies developed, we were able to achieve our existing position as one of the leaders in a niche market.”

Salliwell (Israel)

Produces medical devices for the mouth. Received FP5 and FP6 funding. “This support was vital for our innovation strategy and for developing our research projects,” says President, Andy Wolff. “Networks are of course very important as well. We have managed to gather a consortium of first-class partners in the fields of electronics, chemistry, micro-mechanics and patient care.”