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Policy Update:

NCP network becomes even more SME-friendly

The European Commissionís new TransCoSME project should improve the way high quality research services are coordinated for SMEs. It will focus on NCPs identifying and sharing good practices, developing common tools, and supporting benchmarking, joint workshops and training.

National Contact Points (NCPs) have always played a central role in helping SMEs take part in European R&D Framework Programmes, acting as a liaison between the European Commission and SMEs at a national and regional level, therefore facilitating access to EU-funded RTD programmes.

However, it is also well known that there are significant differences in the way various NCP systems operate throughout Europe and in the levels of expertise offered by the NCPs themselves. More co-ordination within the network is needed to foster synergies and exchange experience and best practices with SMEs.

The EUR 2.37 million, three-year TransCoSME (Transnational Co-operation of the SME network) project supports a network of 36 National Contact Points for SME-specific measures. It has set itself several objectives in three main Ďareasí:

TransCoSME will deliver specialised training, tools and mechanisms to help NCPs supply SMEs with practical ideas and advice more efficiently than before. An electronic portal and bi-annual information days on SME-specific measures will improve communication and suggest new ways of collaborating.

Such measures should lead to service quality being improved throughout the SME NCP network. In turn, this is expected to lead to an improvement in the quality of proposals submitted under the FP7 SME-specific measures.

SME National Contact Points (NCPs)

NCPs provide information and guidance to SMEs wishing to participate in EU research and are able to offer personalised support in the proposerís own language. The NCPs are usually national structures set up and financed by the governments of the 27 EU Member States and the states associated to the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

SME NCP list