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SME finance workshop: step one in commercialising research

Policy Update

The first small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) financing workshop, focused on bringing successful research results into the market, was held in Brussels on 10 March. The event not only offered practical advice to SMEs but also gave them the opportunity to meet representatives from the European Commission, venture capital firms, the European Enterprise Network and other SME-focused organisations. The day emphasised the Commissionís commitment to devising policies that create a more effective environment to foster the commercialisation of SME research.

Bridging the gap

One issue raised at the workshop was the apparent gap into which some SMEs seeking finance find themselves falling. There are various options available if you are looking for up to around EUR 1 million: other businesses, local banks and Business Angels (the private investor network that is discussed in the finance options of this article). And there are likewise several alternatives as well as venture capital for those looking for EUR 4 million or more.

However, if the amount you are seeking falls between EUR 1 million and EUR 4 million, there seems to be less choice. Venture capitals are not interested in this instance as the project is regarded as too small. Regional banks, on the other hand, arenít interested because the amount is too great to support innovation and not return on investment. The European Commission understands this issue and the workshop was another step in bridging this gap. 'We are working on a closer synergy in all aspects of what we do,' explains Dr Reichert. 'The more we can do to proliferate the use of research, the better.'

It was suggested that the Commission could provide official support to successful research projects as a way of giving SMEs more credibility when seeking finance. This is another tool the Commission will consider implementing.