Lead Story

SME participation 'crucial', says new commissioner

Máire Geoghegan Quinn

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn is the newly appointed Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science; in January 2010 the Irish-born politician faced her first parliamentary hearing. Among the many issues raised by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) was the crucial importance of increasing funding to SMEs in EU-funding research to 15%. Here we take a look at the key points raised at the hearing and learn how Ms Geoghegan-Quinn hopes to resolve them to reach this ambitious target.


The new commissioner began by explaining her main aim while in office: 'If we want to take Europe out of the economic crisis, the EU must become a true innovation union that takes research and transfers it into jobs. My task will be to put research, innovation and science at the heart of EU policies.'

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn’s focus then moved to small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the need – which she described as 'crucial' – to raise SME funding in the framework programme to 15%. In order to achieve this and other improvements, the new commissioner discussed a number of points raised by MEPs regarding EU-funded research.

Although new to the role, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn’s energy and passion are indisputable: 'I am a politician, not a civil servant. I am into action. Am I going to talk or deliver? The second of course!'

Funding

To show her commitment to research, innovation and science, and her desire to see them improved, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn suggested raising expenditure in science research to 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the EU. That is the same ambitious target as President Obama set in the US. The commissioner also wants to improve SMEs' access to investment. She suggested creating a task force to improve cooperation between SMEs and the European Central Bank’s investment arm.

Knowledge sharing

Once a research project is complete, the accessibility of its results to the wider industry is a vital aspect of knowledge sharing. MEPs raised issues surrounding accessing patents and the high cost of intellectual property rights (IPR) following a complete project. Ms Geoghegan-Quinn agreed that the patent issue is 'a very serious obstacle' and promised to improve affordability and access to a European patent programme.

Red tape

Many private companies (and particularly SMEs) that wish to take part in the framework programme feel hindered by the bureaucracy involved in EU funding. Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, a former member of the European Court of auditors herself, believes streamlining the application process will encourage more companies to take part. 'We cannot compromise sound financial management – but we can simplify,' she says. 'If we have fewer rules, we have fewer errors. Whatever we do, we need to do it quickly.'

Lack of researchers

It is believed that the EU lacks sufficient numbers of researchers to carry out research projects. 'We have to put in place a climate to encourage researchers to come into the system with ease,' suggests Ms Geoghegan-Quinn. 'We need to build up the infrastructure but we also need to build up capacities.' The new commissioner also believes that adopting a more personal approach will increase the popularity of research: ways to do this involve making science 'sexy' and promoting celebrity scientists.

Support for all

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn believes the research budget must support both large and small projects alike, as well as those projects focused on subjects that are not profitable. She supports making research calls more focused on SMEs and stressed the importance of performing research in any form. After all, she says: 'no matter what the research is, it is always valuable, it can always be used.'

Collaboration

The new commissioner is keen to ensure no opportunity for research is missed. Collaboration across all Member States is therefore crucial. She wants to create a unified research area to allow and encourage smaller Member States to come forward and perform research. Ms Geoghegan-Quinn believes 'we need to engage together' across all Member States to improve the EU for the benefit of all.

The commissioner concluded by emphasising her enthusiasm and commitment to the overall advancement of the EU through research: 'I won’t be a mouse but I will be collegial. I guarantee that we can work together to deliver what people want. I would like to come to parliament, not to wait to be invited, to discuss with you how we can work together to deliver policy.'




Actions:

SME participation leads to innovation

Maive Rute

The KBBE (Knowledge based bio-economy) is one of the broadest themes in the cooperation programme, covering diverse areas ranging from agriculture and fisheries to food and biotechnology. Like all other themes, the overall aim is for 15% of available funding to go to small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In order to do this, the KBBE Directorate devises and executes policy initiatives that encourage SME participation: that the result is that 61% of all KBBE projects in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) involved SMEs. To find out more, we talk to two people with relevant experience – the theme’s director and the SME liaison officer.


Before specific policy initiatives are created, it is necessary to understand why it is important for SMEs to take part in EU-funded research. Maive Rute, KBBE director, outlines the two overriding objectives for encouraging SME participation.

'Firstly, knowledge transfer. The creative knowledge produced from SME research will, in some way, be transferred to the wider industry and vice versa. Doing so reinforces Europe’s position within the industry globally. Secondly, innovation-led research. When SMEs are involved, research is often steered towards innovation. This produces a competitive edge within the industry and contributes to the EU’s economic growth.'

Boosting participation

Motivating SMEs to take part in research is not easy. But the KBBE Directorate has devised a number of policy initiatives it hopes will encourage more SMEs to participate.

Competition


Szilvia Nemeth

One of the key points the Directorate always considers is competitiveness. 'Driving SMEs to bring valuable contributions on a wider scale and to remain competitive within their market is crucial,' explains Szilvia Nemeth, SME liaison officer at the KBBE Directorate. 'Building on competitive advantages gained by participation in the Framework Programme raises the SME’s position within the European market and thereby enhances the position of the European industry worldwide.'



Partnerships

Whether established multinational corporation or start-up SME, most businesses tend to encourage academic participation when conducting research. It is a triangle of partners bringing together knowledge and skills to produce a combined result. 'The framework programme is not just a pot of money,' explains Ms Rute. 'If we can facilitate partnerships, then our endeavour is not just a one-off. Companies and academic institutes can seek out further funding and continue to build relationships for the overall development of industry and agriculture in Europe.'

Networks

SMEs involved in research are presented with a number of European networks they can join. These networks open up further opportunities for SMEs to grow within their industry.

A key support measure used by the KBBE Directorate is the Enterprise Europe Network, whose mission is to help SMEs make the most of business opportunities in the EU. It has over 500 centres throughout the Member States, which provide guidance specifically designed to help SMEs in innovation management and to get involved in FP7 research.

SME friendly

Topics within FP7 work programmes are geared to encourage SME participation and, in the near future, topics will have a proportion of budget devoted entirely to SMEs. 'Earmarking budgets and other similar devices aims to create an SME-friendly environment,' explains Ms Nemeth. 'We want smaller companies to feel comfortable operating in an international business landscape.'

Awareness

Indirect contact is an effective tool in encouraging participation. The Directorate provides information on past success stories from the KBBE programme to show the practical benefits that research can bring. This also helps eliminate any concerns that SMEs may have over the paperwork and application process involved in FP7.

National Contact

National Contact Points were also established in an effort to generate dialogue and feedback on SMEs across all EU Member States, rather than just focusing on 'Brussels' (the unofficial capital of Europe).

Results

The KBBE Directorate’s efforts to bolster SME participation have not gone unnoticed. A total of 61% of all projects within the theme involved SMEs and approximately 12% of all participants were SMEs.

'These figures are very encouraging,' concludes Ms Rute. 'They show a willingness and enthusiasm among the SME community to take part in research. Innovation is at the heart of social development and SMEs are key to that process. By encouraging SMEs to take their innovation into research, there is no stopping our development.'

  • Contact:
    Maive Rute
    Director of KBBE Directorate
    European Commission
    Tel. +32 22959159

    Szilvia Nemeth
    SME liaison in KBBE Directorate
    European Commission
    Tel. +32 22997985



Points of View:

The vital ingredient

Casper Zulim de Swarte

A Netherlands-based programme promoting participation in food industry innovation research is helping to attract SMEs to the Food, Agriculture & Fisheries and Biotechnology theme of FP7’s Cooperation Programme.


The Dutch food industry is one of the most important economic sectors in the EU. The Netherlands is the largest exporter of food in Europe, with the food sector reaching a turnover of EUR 50 billion annually and employing 140 000 people. But increasing international competition is putting pressure on the industry, and innovation is essential if the sector is to stay ahead. The Food and Nutrition Innovation Programme is doing everything possible to stimulate the innovation capacity of the business communities of the Netherlands and the EU, especially among small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These efforts will go a long way to support the Food, Agriculture & Fisheries and Biotechnology theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) Cooperation sub-programme, which aims to build a strong Knowledge Based Bio-Economy (KBBE) in Europe.

International push for food sector innovation

The Food and Nutrition Innovation Programme is a public-private partnership between the Dutch government and the food industry. The programme’s ambition is for the Netherlands to become the most innovative food and nutrition region in Europe. Its goal is to achieve an increase in the share of products with a high added value of 15% to 35% by 2015. The programme involves six innovation themes: food and health, sensory abilities and structure, bio-ingredients and functionality, safety and preservation, consumer behaviour and adjacent technology. It consists of two interconnected programme phases, as explained below.

  1. The Top Institute Food and Nutrition programme, which comprises a consortium of knowledge institutes plus a number of small and large players within the Dutch food industry (such as Unilever, for example) that work together to conduct strategic research.
  2. The Food Nutrition Delta (valorisation) programme, which is designed to transform knowledge into products, processes and services with a high degree of added value, and aims to boost the innovative strength of the SME sector. One research project being undertaken under this programme is investigating ways to decrease the amount of salt in bread without affecting the flavour. Another is developing a machine that can print patterns on food – a job that is currently done by hand. And another project linked to the programme is 'The Restaurant of the Future' – a place to experiment with new food products, preparation methods and self-service systems while allowing for close observation of consumer eating and drinking behaviour.

The Food and Nutrition Programme’s international policy advisor, Casper Zulim de Swarte, is responsible for encouraging international participation. He is also the leader of an ad hoc working group on SMEs set up under the Programme Committee of the Food, Agriculture & Fisheries and Biotechnology theme. The group’s aim was to formulate recommendations to encourage SME participation in the theme’s projects.

'We have a lot of expertise in food R&D, yet Europe’s food industry has an extremely low innovation capacity of just 0.23%,' says Mr Zulim de Swarte. 'This is a national programme, but it has an international strategy closely related to the European Technology Platform "Food for Life". The bulk of its projects are funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, but we have the ability to fund international projects.'

And, after three-and-a-half years, our national programme appears to be working. The total network of businesses participating in the programme grew by 36% last year, bringing the number of participants up to 718. 'In the food industry, it’s not so much the project that provides the value-adding aspect, but the networking,' says Mr Zulim de Swarte. 'You stand to gain as a company by participating in R&D projects, which is why FP7 is so pivotal and why we’re encouraging SMEs in the food industry to participate in the Food, Agriculture & Fisheries and Biotechnology theme.'

Attracting SMEs to KBBE

SME participation in the Dutch Food and Nutrition Programme currently stands at about 70%. Of the 718 companies, universities and research institutes taking part, 511 are SMEs. 'When you consider that the number of SME participants in the Food, Agriculture & Fisheries and Biotechnology theme of FP7’s Cooperation Programme is around 11%, then 70% is excellent,' says Mr Zulim de Swarte. 'It should be at least 15% SME participants and 15% share of financing should reach SMEs, which is one of the reasons why the programme started this ad hoc SME working group within FP7 to open it up more to SMEs in the food and biotechnology industries.'

The working group is a subcommittee of the Programme Committee for the Food, Agriculture & Fisheries and Biotechnology theme and its members are experts from 11 different EU countries. The critical job for KBBE is to make the theme more attractive to SMEs, which is why the working group has come up with a list of seven recommendations for the EU. Some of these recommendations are as follows: tailoring specific projects to suit SMEs’ needs; when possible making the projects smaller in terms of cost, scope and scale; and giving SMEs more control when it comes to choosing and driving research projects.

'We advised that the rules of participation in FP7 be simplified to reduce the administrative burden for SMEs as we’ve discovered this is one of the major inhibitors to SME participation,' says Mr Zulim de Swarte. 'We also recommended that the larger non-SME projects pay more attention to technology transfer, how the network around a project is being built and sharing knowledge with SMEs.' The working group advised that all of these recommendations be clearly implemented in the next calls. 'The EU has been very receptive to these ideas,' says Mr Zulim de Swarte. 'You can feel a new wind blowing through the Food, Agriculture & Fisheries and Biotechnology theme.'


  • Contact:
    Casper Zulim de Swarte
    Agentschap NL
    Tel. +31 886025593



Success Story:

Perfectly preserved - naturally

Pier Luigi Franceschini

Food-related research can have a profound effect on an industry worldwide. The fact that many food-related health issues are also global issues means that diverse improved foodstuffs have the potential of getting a significant share in the global food market. An interesting example of such SME-involved research aimed at discovering a natural preserving agent for use in the sausage industry. We talk to one of the project developers to learn more of this EU-funded project's success and its follow-up.


Growing concerns over the health implications of the use of chemical preservatives in food have led to the search for safer natural alternatives. Consumers of traditional foods do not object to new and healthier food processing, as long as the traditional taste is not altered. In August 2006, NOCHEMFOOD, a partnership of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and research institutes, received EUR 2.26 million of EU funding from the 'Food Safety and Quality' thematic priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) to explore the use of natural preserving agents as substitutes for nitrites and nitrates (chemical preservatives commonly used in the sausage industry).

The project

Lead by Bioma, a Swiss SME whose core business is the production and marketing of biotechnologies for the agro-food sector, NOCHEMFOOD began by rigorously testing vegetable extracts on sausage meat. The extracts, taken from eight plants (such as rosemary) had the task of preventing the development of undesired microorganisms and preserving the meat's colour.

Results

After extensive research and testing, the NOCHEMFOOD project produced exciting results. 'We were able to demonstrate,' says Dr Pier Luigi Franceschini, project developer, 'that our mixture of natural vegetable extracts performed as effectively as their chemical counterparts. In all cases we had good results.'

The next step

The global sausage industry operates in the vast majority of mass markets across the globe. Combine this with the fact that consumers are more aware of health issues related to food and you can see that products utilising the results of the NOCHEMFOOD project hold potential for real commercial success.

'Much like food that is promoted as "organic", consumers looking to get higher quality and more natural food products may be willing to pay more,' explains Dr Franceschini. 'This is therefore a popular market segment that many companies would like to target.'

NOCHEMFOOD worked with two SMEs from the sausage industry as potential end user partners, Salumificio F. Ili Spiezia from Italy and Embutidos Dany from Spain. The Italian company, a family-run business founded in 1907, took a welcoming approach to the use of this novel technology.

'We are always trying to improve our products and follow the trends of the market,' explains Francesca Scognamiglio, quality control and assurance manager at the company. 'Thanks to EU research, we'll be able to market a new range of salami products without nitrates and nitrites. We think that such a range will be a real commercial success as consumer demand of more natural food is both vocal and energetic worldwide.'

While NOCHEMFOOD's focus was on fermented sausages, the study has a much broader relevance across a number of other food groups. This wide array of applications opens up even more opportunity for companies to expand their production, size and product range.

Collaborative success

The NOCHEMFOOD project was a success for its results but also for its collaboration. The partnership, which was formed solely through networking events and prior contacts, worked very well. The project paved the way for further commercialisation of these search results.

Evidence of the successful collaboration is clear from the patent, which Dr Franceschini states 'will be in everyone's name and shared across all partners to recognise everyone's efforts in this rewarding project.'

The partners involved are set out below:

  1. Bioma - technological partner from Switzerland;
  2. Innova - management partner from Italy;
  3. Spiezia - SME from Italy;
  4. Dany - SME from Spain;
  5. Istituto Di Scienze Dell'alimentazione CNR - scientific partner from Italy;
  6. Universita' Degli Studi Del Molise - scientific partner from Italy;
  7. Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Científicas, Spain, CTIC - scientific partner from Spain;
  8. Asociación Para La Investigación De La Industria Cárnica De La Rioja - scientific partner from Spain.

  • Contact:
    Dr Pier Luigi Franceschini
    Project Dissemination Leader
    NOCHEMFOOD
    Tel. + 39 0640040358

    Dr Alessandro Capodicasa
    Project Coordinator
    NOCHEMFOOD
    Tel. +39 0666159086



Policy:

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 Commission’s commitment to devising policies that create a more effective environment to foster the commercialisation of SME research.


Many SMEs that have completed their FP6 or FP7 research project and disseminated their results find it difficult to secure additional finance and support to get their successful results into market. 'The EU is highly effective at conducting unique and innovative research – but is less good at commercialisation,' comments Dr Bernd Reichert, head of the SME unit who oversaw the workshop. 'This we want to change.'

The free 'Financing for SMEs' workshop, organised by the Commission, was designed to deal with these issues and offer SMEs an opportunity to voice their opinions while receiving information and practical advice on the full range of financing options available.

Communication

The workshop was the ideal platform for new channels of communication to be established. 'The important thing is to start a dialogue between SMEs, the Commission and numerous finance institutions,' explains Dr Reichert. 'By evaluating financing policies, we can work to improve the systems currently in place.'

In addition to Dr Reichert, head of the SME unit of the Directorate-General (DG) for Research, Per-Ove Engelbrecht, head of the Financing Innovation and SMEs unit of DG Enterprise, Luisa Sanches Policy analyst of DG Regional Policy and five representatives from private equity and venture capital institutions were on hand to offer advice and respond to direct questions.

Financing options

The financing workshop introduced representatives from both European and private funding institutions that distribute funds to SMEs. These bodies offered their knowledge and advice to SMEs, and they include the following: the Competition and Innovation Programme (CIP), the European Investment Fund (EIF), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds, and other Early Stage Market Players (EBAN), the European Venture Capital Association (EVCA) and the Cohesion funds.

Patric Gresko, European Investment Fund (EIF)

EIF is Europe’s leading developer of risk financing for entrepreneurship and innovation. It is owned by the European Investment Bank (EIB) (62%) and the European Community through the European Commission (29%).

The EIF has a EUR 1 billion mandate to provide hybrid debt or equity finance to European SMEs. It focuses its efforts on SMEs and aims to become the 'cornerstone' investor that supports SMEs from the early stages of a project right through to mid-market level.

Web Site: http://www.eif.org

Bart Diels, European Venture Capital Association (EVCA)

Mr Diels made it clear that although the global financial crisis had deterred some venture capitals from investing in high-risk projects, 90% of the EVCA’s venture capital goes directly to SMEs. He explains: 'We look for seeds that will grow into Sequoia (world’s largest trees), not Bonsais. Bonsais are relatively expensive, need a lot of care and attention, but do not amount to much.'

Mr Diels noted that access to venture capital can be quick – three to four months on average, and he offered some practical advice on creating proposals and business plans:

  • 20 pages of PowerPoint is better than 60 pages of text;
  • do not worry about technical or financial details – just stick to the headline information;
  • do not put a valuation down on paper – only mention this if asked;
  • provide multiple exit strategies for the investor;
  • be transparent;
  • provide a team profile and basic company information;
  • do not give up; it can take two or three tries before being accepted.

Web Site: http://www.gimv.com

Claire Munck, EBAN - Business Angels

EBAN provides another 'door to knock on' for SME financing. Within the association is the aptly named Business Angels organisation, which operates more than 100 offices in 27 countries.

Business Angels introduce SMEs to private investors who have a vested interest in the sector most relevant to the SME’s research project. Should they be interested, the private individual can offer not only investment but also experience and advice, often acting as a mentor to the project to assist its development. Such investments usually range up to EUR 1 million per year and are generally committed during the early stages of a project.

Claire passed on practical advice for approaching a 'Business Angel', suggesting SMEs focus on the commitment and ambition of the entrepreneurs and management team as much as on the project itself.

Web Site: http://www.eban.org

Beatriz Yordi, Competition and Innovation Programme (CIP)

The CIP has a major focus on eco-friendly research and its Eco-Innovation programme has one of the highest approval rates of all SME financing options, at 25%. The programme will launch its latest call for proposals on 13 April 2010, closing in September 2010.

Ms Yordi offered her advice for delivering a successful proposal:

  • keep it short and simple, and cut out the jargon;
  • do not refer to EU policies to justify your project – the CIP already know;
  • provide information on the market demand;
  • discuss the European added value your research will bring;
  • mention some long-term benefits;
  • include a business plan.

Web Site: http://ec.europa.eu/ecoinnovation

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, aren’t 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.

Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)

Apart form the financial institutions present at the workshop, the EEN was also represented: this is a network of 570 business support organisations from 45 countries that support SME development. Filippo Pasquet from the EEN made it clear that with 5 000 staff and more than 500 branches across the EU, the network is available to help in any way it can. One of the services it offers, for instance, is free legal advice on matters concerning European legislation, which can assist SMEs in cutting through red tape.

Networking

The importance of networking throughout the EU, both across SMEs and the Commission, was emphasised by Dr Reichert. Regional contact points, for example, are a key resource for SMEs to gain information on financial aid. It is crucial for regions to disseminate information to one another: sharing experiences will create effective synergies throughout Europe that will benefit all.

The workshop itself was also a tool for networking. It allowed SMEs to discuss their projects, meet other companies in similar situations, share ideas and learn more of the available options for resources.

The successful commercialisation of SME research was also presented at the workshop. One such example was the Brandenburg project in Germany: here a region previously suffering from high unemployment became a European Entrepreneurial Region award winner through the effective use of research.

The first 'Financing for SMEs' workshop was a great success. Representatives from more than 70 SMEs travelled from across Europe to attend the event. Kurt Weingarten, an SME participant at the workshop, comments: 'This is great, a very useful and insightful day that offers practical hints and knowledgeable experience. It’s just what we need.'

To conclude, Dr Reichert admitted that despite some problems, the Commission is determined to renew policies to make the world of SME research a commercially successful place.

'I am not a magician,' he says. 'But we are doing all we can and our primary focus is getting successful research to the market. Communication is crucial and this financing workshop has built a solid foundation to build on.'




Events:

Building knowledge and networks for SMEs

Events





March 2010


Sustainable Energy Week

Event type: Conference, matchmaking
Event date: 22-26 March 2010
Location: Brussels, Belgium

The EU Sustainable Energy Week is Europe’s number one event for sustainable issues in Europe. The event brings together SMEs, large enterprises and institutions seeking cooperation and improvement in sustainability across Europe.


Alimentaria 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Event date: 23-24 March 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain

Enterprise Europe Network is organising a free matchmaking event within the international Alimentaria 2010 trade fair. The event will generate real opportunities for business by facilitating agreements between providers, companies, researchers and technical institutions on new business ventures. It is also an opportunity for SMEs to present their company profiles to find future partners for research projects.


MEGRA & Rational Use of Energy

Event type: Matchmaking
Event date: 25 March 2010
Location: Gornja Radgona, Slovenia

MEGRA 2010 is a construction fair that promotes active cooperation in the construction sector. Participants are offered an opportunity to meet potential business partners and to get acquainted with the latest industry developments. The matchmaking event is targeted at any company in the construction or renewable sector.


April 2010


B2B 4 Energy Brokerage Event

Event type: Matchmaking
Event date: 13 April 2010
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

A technology and business matchmaking event will take place during Expo Energy 2010, which runs from 13 to 16 April in Sofia, Bulgaria. The B2B 4 Energy event will focus on all areas of energy and energy efficiency. The event aims to facilitate the establishment of joint ventures and partnerships under EU-funded research projects.


Technology Transfer and Business Cooperation

Event type: Matchmaking
Event date: 16 April 2010
Location: Bologna, Italy

This matchmaking event targets Italian and French companies that manufacture and supply pharmaceutical and cosmetic machinery and products. It will be held during the Cosmoprof fair, due to take place from 15 to 19 April 2010. The event aims to foster collaboration and participation among players in the cosmetic industry.


Hannover Messe 2010 – Technology Cooperation Day

Event type: Matchmaking
Event date: 19-23 April 2010
Location: Hannover, Germany

The Technology Cooperation Day is an embedded technology event organised within the b2fair matchmaking at Hannover Messe 2010. The matchmaking event will offer participants the chance to have pre-organised and qualified bilateral meetings with potential partners ranging from R&D partnerships to sales and distribution. Hannover Messe 2010 focuses on industrial topics including automation, robotics, energy, nanotechnologies and Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) projects.


The 8th ETAP forum on eco-innovation

Event type: Forum
Date: 20-21 April 2010
Location: Bilbao, Spain

The eighth forum of the action plan in favour of eco-technologies aims to make eco-innovation happen in SMEs. The forum aims to get entrepreneurs to speak about their needs as well as the barriers to their development. The intention is to create recommendations for new policies that foster eco-innovation at regional, national and European level.


VIV Europe Matchmaking Event

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 20-21 April 2010
Location: Utrecht, The Netherlands

VIV Europe is a key meeting place for top decision makers in the Feed-to-Meat industry. More than 200 companies are expected to exhibit there. A free two-day matchmaking event is planned, aimed at companies and research institutes active in the field of livestock breeding, meat production, meat safety and so on.


European Patent Forum 2010

Event type: Information forum
Date: 28-29 April 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain.

The European Patent Forum assesses Europe’s renewable energy innovation potential following the Copenhagen Summit 2010. Does Europe have the technologies to meet its ambitious renewable energy targets? Are the right conditions in place to facilitate technology transfers? These are some of the questions the event will aim to answer.


Futurallia 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 28-30 April, 2010
Location: Poitiers, France

Futuralia 2010 is the 15th edition of this successful event, which gathers around 800 entrepreneurs for 2 days of personalised B2B meetings. Up to 9 000 business meetings are expected to take place with the aim of creating new business and research partnerships.


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May 2010


MSW 2010 - Sharing to innovate

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 4-5 May 2010
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Micronano System Worskshop (MSW) 2010 targets companies, research institutes and universities that offer innovative technologies and are looking for technological solutions or partners for EU-funded research projects. The event aims to create networks between such organisations to foster technical cooperation.


Baltic Sea Investment and Business Cooperation Forum

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 13-14 May 2010
Location: Klaipeda, Lithuania

Organised in the framework of the International Lithuanian-German Business Conference, this matchmaking event invites companies from the Baltic Sea region to meet and discuss their targets for innovation and research. The event will have a focus on renewable energy, tourism, services, industry and R&D.


Genera 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 20 May 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain

Genera 2010 is an international energy and environment trade fair that showcases the complete cross-section of energy sources and related industries. An international technology transfer day is planned that aims to provide a meeting point for technology requests within the renewable energy field.


Engineering 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 27 May 2010
Location: Nitra, Slovakia

Engineering 2010 is a matchmaking event being held during the 17th International Engineering Trade Fair, due to take place from 25 to 28 May 2010. The event targets organisations looking for or offering technologies, tools and solutions in the engineering industry.


European SME week

Event type: pan-European conferences and information days
Date: 25 May - 1 June 2010
Location: Various

The second European SME week is a pan-European campaign taking place in 37 countries in which numerous events and activities take place. The aim of each event is to provide information on the available support for SMEs, to promote entrepreneurship and to give recognition to those SMEs that have contributed to Europe’s development. Organised by the European Commission, last year’s SME week saw more than 1 200 national and local events take place.


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Facts & Figures:

Recent research proposal results show 65% of participants are SMEs

Facts & Figures





Did you know?

  • The EU targets EUR 5 billion (15% of the total budget) to go to SMEs participating in the Seventh Framework Programme’s (FP7) Cooperation Programme. That’s an average of EUR 275 000 for each SME participating.
  • In addition, the EU contributes EUR 1 billion to SMEs in the Capacities Programme of FP7 – 77% of its total budget of EUR 1.3 billion.
  • On average, a project in the Research for SMEs scheme receives EUR 1 million.
  • On average, a project in the Research for SMEs Associations receives EUR 2.3 million.
  • It is estimated that 20 000 SMEs will benefit from FP7.
  • EU research for FP7 costs the EU’s 500 million tax-paying citizens just EUR 14 each a year.

FP7 Research for SMEs – Evaluation Results

The most recent call for research proposals to take part in FP7’s Cooperation Programme generated some encouraging figures in terms of SME participants.

  • A total of 660 proposals were received, of which 132 have been retained for funding.
  • 5 316 participants were involved in proposals, 3 477 (65%) of which are SMEs.
  • 1 088 participants are involved in proposals being retained for funding, 724 (67%) of which are SMEs.
  • The average project budget was EUR 1.4 million, and the EU contribution to this reached 76%. Here is a comprehensive outline of the countries, activities and participants involved in this call for research proposals. Each of the below titles is a link to the corresponding chart.

The Success Rate: this chart shows the number of proposals retained for funding in each country involved in FP7. Countries are then given a percentage success rate based on these results.


The Success Rate


Origin of Coordinators: this shows the number of project coordinators for retained proposals in each country.


Origin of Coordinators


Main field of activity: this details the main field that each retained project is associated with.


Main field of activity


Type of Participant: outlines the type of participants (SME, RTD performer, etc.) involved in retained for funding projects.


Type of Participant


Type of Activity: Shows the type of activity that participants conduct in retained projects.


Type of Activity


SME Participation: demonstrates the level of SME participation in retained-for-funding projects.


SME Participation


Project Duration: this shows the length of time each funded project took to complete.


Project Duration


Coordinator Gender: shows the coordinator’s gender for retained proposals.


Coordinator Gender