Lead Story

SME Conference is perfect platform for change

Jean-Marc NOLLET

The research and innovation small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) Conference under the Belgian presidency will take place in November of this year. This unique event puts SMEs in direct contact with key personnel and Ministers from three EU presidencies - past, present and future. The conference is the ideal platform for SMEs to influence the highest level of EU policymakers and air their views on what improvements can be made to the Framework Programme.

In an exclusive interview, we talk to Jean-Marc Nollet, Walloon Community Minister for Children, Research and Public Service, about this event and what key points must be addressed.

The SME Conference is built around SMEs, from an SME perspective, and will be divided into three stages that cover the complete innovation cycle: from initial idea to implementation and exploitation. Through a roundtable discussion and open debate with policymakers and Ministers from three EU presidencies (Belgium, Spain and Hungary), the event aims to bring some conclusions to the European Council so that changes and improvements can be made.

'The SME Conference is an extremely important moment - both for small enterprises and for the Belgian presidency,' underlines Minister Nollet. 'The main objective of the event is to facilitate the face-to-face meeting of up to 400 stakeholders, each with their own unique experiences of international and regional EU-funded research, to enhance systems and improve procedures.'

Synergy

One of the key points to be raised at the conference is the need to establish a stronger link between research and innovation. Currently, the two are treated as separate entities with research handled through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and innovation through the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP). This lack of synergy means that once the research stage is complete, an entirely new programme must be approached to gain support and further advance the project.

'Research and innovation go hand in hand and our support programmes must reflect this,' says Minister Nollet. 'We cannot have universities or companies with great results but that cannot do anything with them. A future support programme must encompass the full cycle, from initial research to demonstration and exploitation. We need to take a more comprehensive approach and assure SMEs that support is already in place every step of the way.'

Communication

Information surrounding EU-funded research is bountiful. However, disseminating that information throughout the Member States and support organisations to reach SMEs has been a continual challenge.

'We, as a public authority, have an obligation to make sure that information is better spread and easier for SMEs to assimilate,' says Minister Nollet. 'Multinational companies are aware of and adopt EU initiatives but SMEs find it much harder to do so. We can counteract this through better distribution of information and case studies illustrating SME successes.'

Stability

Many researchers find themselves in unstable situations in terms of career. For example, a project may run for a year but after that time there is no knowing what will happen. 'It's a worry and spreads concern,' says Minister Nollet. 'We need to establish a system where researchers have stable, structured working conditions - even when moving between projects.'

Networks

Networking is synonymous with growth and development. The SME Conference will be a chance for potential partners to meet but also to raise awareness of the networks available to SMEs. 'We support and encourage all good ideas but in order for these ideas to reach the market, the EU and public authorities must provide access to networks,' explains Minister Nollet. 'Networks that facilitate the connection between ideas and markets are crucial for SMEs to progress.'

Encouragement

Increasing competitiveness in Europe is an overarching aim of all Framework Programmes. And SMEs need to realise the immense contribution they can make in helping meet this goal. 'SMEs, due to their nature, need as much encouragement and assistance as possible,' says Minister Nollet. 'They are competing with multinational corporations and sometimes need a little push to realise the potential they can reach.'

Timing

The timing of the SME Conference could not be better. FP7 has just reached the halfway review stage, the Research and Innovation Action Plan will be presented in September and the Competitiveness and European Council will convene in October - all of which will provide the latest information and topics for discussion at the conference.

'The SME conference has real political weight and I expect the outcome to bring real change,' concludes Minister Nollet. 'It will feed directly into the Competitiveness Council in November and explain what can be done for SMEs to contribute even further to the EU's goals for competitiveness and innovation. As a Minister, tomorrow's challenges - renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions - are today's focus. What we and all SMEs must realise is that what we do in the present can truly help us in the future.'

Registration for the SME conference is open from the 25th of June at the following website:
www.smeconference2010.be




Actions:

European SME Week 2010 draws crowds


Martina Daly

A record number of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) events took place across Europe in May and June 2010. European SME Week 2010 consisted of nearly 1 500 events, attracting an audience estimated at 3.3 million people in 37 countries. Now in its second year, the pan-European campaign seeks to support and encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them thrive and to reward their achievements.

European SME Week is a key tool for promoting and encouraging innovation in Europe. The event aims at providing information on the support available to SMEs, while also promoting entrepreneurship as a beneficial career option and recognising the achievements and contributions that SMEs make to Europe's welfare, jobs, innovation and competitiveness.

Coordinated by the European Commission, the individual events of European SME Week 2010 were organised at the national, regional or local level by business organisations, business support providers and participating country authorities.

'Holding close to 1 500 pan-European events that more than 3 million people are exposed to is a great achievement, and the fact that they were SME events focused on innovation is even more so,' says Martina Daly, communications officer at the SME unit and speaker at an SME Week event in Ireland.

The huge number of events (1 466) involved in European SME Week 2010 reflects the wide range of industry sectors that European SMEs are involved in. Here is a selection of some of the events that took place:

Ireland: How SMEs can make the most of EU funding

A specialist seminar was held in Shannon, organised by the Shannon Chamber of Commerce, on how SMEs can make the most of European funding schemes. The event was considered a success; it attracted an audience of 600 000 and achieved publicity in national newspapers and radio. It aimed to dispel the common myths surrounding EU funding and inform SMEs that funds are available to companies of any size from any area.

Commenting from Brussels, Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: 'I congratulate the organisers for offering this opportunity to stakeholders in the West, Mid-West and South-West. I fully support this type of event, in Ireland and elsewhere. The more information we can get across on EU research funding and how to get it, the more applicants we will have and the higher will be the quality of the projects we fund. Ultimately, events like this help boost the contribution of EU-funded research to the products and services of the future.'

Marco Lopriore from the European Institute of Public Affairs, who attended the event, added: 'For FP7 (Seventh Framework Programme), the pot is open to everybody. The more good programmes Ireland presents, the more money Irish programmes will get.'

The seminar provided examples of both low-tech and high-tech SME success stories to remind those in attendance that you do not need a research and development (R&D) capacity to take part. 'No other programme will give you that kind of access to other companies,' said Frank Murray from a local technology SME. 'You can do an awful lot of sitting at your desk and thinking, but innovation and research is a contact sport, you have to be out there talking to people and finding out what they want.'

Representatives from the local Enterprise Europe Network and Enterprise Ireland were also on hand to reassure SMEs of the support services currently in place across Europe that help companies find partners and apply for EU funding. 'Companies tend to envisage that they have to do everything themselves, but there's a lot of support out there,' says Sean Burke from Enterprise Ireland.

Austria: What's available to SMEs?

National Contact Points in Austria organised an SME Roadshow that saw Linz, Graz, Dornbirn and Vienna play host to an informative seminar looking at bottom-up R&D programmes and initiatives available to SMEs. The workshop-style events provided an overview of SME funding for research possibilities in FP7, EUREKA and EUROSTARS, and EraSME, and gave a comparison on three SME-dedicated funding schemes.

Czech Republic: Cultivating and supporting SME innovation

The Technology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (TC ASCR), the leading Czech organisation that encourages R&D in innovative technologies, organised a number of SME-focused events aimed at cultivating SME innovation capacities and supporting the protection of their intangible assets, including:

  • 'FP7: a Challenge for SMEs and Universities'. Held in Prague, the event focused on the opportunities available to innovative SMEs, particularly those that associate their growth with their own technological R&D. The seminar provided information on the Framework Programme in general and the success of the Czech SME project Chemstar.
  • 'Be good businessmen - do not ignore your IP', which discussed issues of intellectual property rights and their fundamental importance to SMEs. The event consisted of a half-day series of lectures given by the leading Czech and EU IPR specialist .
  • an informative event highlighting SME support schemes available through a newly launched Innovation Centre and Business Incubator in Prague. This event marked the closure of SME Week.

The TC ASCR said it was proud to join SME Week 2010 and help create a dynamic synergy with other SME-related events across Europe.

Cyprus: SME opportunities

An informative event took place in Limassol, southern Cyprus, entitled 'Funding Opportunities and Support Measures for Enterprises', which covered general opportunities available to SMEs throughout the country. It presented and provided information on numerous EU programmes, including:

  • 'Research for the benefit of SMEs';
  • 'Eco-Innovation' - an open call for proposals;
  • The Enterprise Europe Network;
  • The Business Support Centre of Cyprus.

The event was organised by the Business Support Centre of Cyprus (a member of Enterprise Europe Network), the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and National Contact Points.


  • Contact:
    Martina Daly
    Communication and PR officer
    DG Research, SME unit
    Email: martina.daly@ec.europa.eu



Points of View:

Making SME participation simple

Wolfgang Burtscher

The European Commission has unveiled proposals to make participating in EU-funded research less complicated and more attractive to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). From reducing administrative burdens to increasing the 'Tolerable Risk of Error', these simplifications would allow SMEs to focus on results, not red tape.

We talk to Wolfgang Burtscher, Deputy Director-General of DG Research, to get his views on the proposed simplifications and on changes already implemented.


'It is crucial for European research to reach its full potential and our underlying priority is to make rules and policies more favourable to SMEs,' says Mr Burtscher. 'By rendering rules as simple as possible, we can make life easier, attract more people to the programme and reduce the risk of error.'

Already implemented

A number of changes have already been implemented under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), and include:

Audit certificate

The Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) contract required the submission of at least one audit certificate, often two or more, which was cumbersome and a heavy burden for SMEs. The rules have now changed: an audit certificate is only required for amounts over EUR 375 000. 'This is a major achievement because around 80% of the payments we make are below this threshold,' says Mr Burtscher. 'It makes life much easier for the vast majority of people involved.'

Financial viability

Proving financial viability was also an issue, particularly for start-ups. But the setting up of a guarantee fund has now removed the need to check financial viability for SMEs that receive amounts below EUR 500,000.

Reimbursement rates

Reimbursement rates for SMEs and flat rates for indirect costs increased considerably in FP7. SMEs can now claim 75% of their research and development (R&D) costs (up from 50%) and charge 60% for their overheads.

Proposed changes for the future FP

The European Commission's proposals for change include:

Lump sum approach

An avenue to be further explored is to adopt a results-based approach using lump sums for entire projects. Current funding procedures are based on actual costs where payment claims are provided, reimbursed and often audited to ensure the claim is valid. 'But all of this involves heavy administration,' says Mr Burtscher. 'A lump sum ruling would significantly reduce these administrative layers and put the focus on research, not on accounting and administration.'

A key challenge in a results-based approach is to establish upfront what are the results or outputs of a project against which the lump sum would be released. But in doing so, the focus can shift from the assessment of the inputs of a project to its research output — a major improvement.

'Tolerable Risk of Error' (TRE)

Simplifying procedures is a tool not only to attract participants but also to reduce the likelihood of errors. So there is no alternative to simplification. But in parallel, a balance must be achieved between the administrative costs of control and the risk of errors. This is where the TRE enters the picture. The European Commission proposes that an error rate of around 3.5% compared to the current 2% would be acceptable and justified.

'This is a crucial point,' says Mr Burtscher. 'We need to ensure that SMEs can concentrate on their work and the intensity of ex-post audits is at a reasonable level. Whether by negligence or simple human error, mistakes happen. We believe that an error rate of around 3.5% is justified, and if the budgetary authority (i.e. the European Parliament and Council) could agree to it, we could review our control strategy to lower the control burden pending on SMEs.'

Adapted accounting requirements

The European Commission also proposes to widen the acceptance of the accounting practices of the beneficiaries, including the use of average personal cost, rather than imposing its own system. Furthermore, an additional proposal is to settle fixed hourly rates for the participation of SME owners whose personnel cost cannot be calculated according to the standard eligibility rules due to legislative or accounting constraints. Such a change would save time and streamline procedures in favour of the beneficiary, adding also security on the correctness of the costs charged.

Funding work programmes

Depending on the theme, annual Work Programmes of Cooperation will include an SME strategy, SME-dedicated calls or SME-friendly measures with earmarked budgets. It is expected that five themes will include targeted calls for SMEs in the 2011 Work Programmes. Calls could also be optimised through structure and timing changes; having calls outside of holiday periods, extending deadlines and reducing the size of consortia would all benefit SMEs.

'We have launched these proposals to make improvements for the benefit of SMEs in this and the next Framework Programme,' concludes Mr Burtscher. 'The focus is now shifting from finance and accounts to research and results. It is more about trust and breeding success, not hindering it. After all, you cannot have simplification and still carry on bean counting.'



Success Story:

Spider-man spins web to create revolutionary bone and cartilage replacement


Nick Skaer

Bone transplants are evolving. The traditional materials used, such as titanium and plastic, could soon be replaced by revolutionary new spider-silk technology. Developed by a group of SMEs, with the help of EU funding, this new material cannot only be used to repair damaged bones but also damaged cartilage - something truly revolutionary.


In 2005 Dr Nick Skaer, who was then the CEO of Oxford Biomaterials, the UK-based SME spearheading the project and parent company of Orthox Limited, the company set up by Dr Skaer in 2008 to commercialise the SilkBone technology, received EU funding for an entirely novel approach to bone transplants based on spider-silk technology.

'To replace damaged joints in the human body, titanium or ultra-durable plastic is normally used,' Dr Skaer explains. 'We wanted to change this, to create a material that has both the mechanical strength of human bone but also the regenerative capacity of human tissue.'

Spider silk is the ideal material, a natural protein that is six times as strong as high-tensile steel, resilient and bio-resorbable, meaning it breaks down within the human body. The idea, therefore, was simple: take the immense strength and resilience of spider silk and replicate these properties in silkworm silk, a far more abundant and cheap resource. The next step was to develop it into a 'tissue scaffold' for repairing human bone.

This incredibly ambitious concept formed a relatively small project, with EUR 1.6 million of funding spread over 2 years, which was extended to 2.5 years as the team had further applications to explore.

Spider-man weaves his web

'We began by studying the way spiders - Golden Orb Web spiders in particular - spin their webs, as that is what gives spider silk its super strength. We mimicked the spider's methodology which allowed us to reproduce its mechanical qualities in our tissue scaffolds made from silkworm silk.'

From there, the team mineralised the improved silkworm silk scaffolds with the mineral-constituent of human bone, giving rigidity and supporting tissue regeneration when implanted.

The resulting material, labelled Silkbone, is a bone substitute that is completely bio-compatible, remodels as human bone and can be reproduced in large quantities at minimal cost.

'We had achieved our ambitious goal. But we didn't stop there,' adds Dr Skaer.

Surprise discovery

Along the way, Dr Skaer and his team made an even more important discovery. Before mineralising the improved silk, the material they produced had the correct properties to act as a functional cartilage replacement - something that is probably unique in the medical world.

'Cartilage is one of the most frequently damaged tissues in the human body,' explains Dr Skaer 'and one of the most difficult to heal. We have almost no way of replacing it and it leads to major disability. There is a serious unmet clinical need, which our material could potentially resolve.'

This second material, which the team calls Spidrex, is believed to be the first and only material ever created to functionally replace damaged cartilage while allowing new cartilage tissue to regenerate through it. 'The preliminary results are enormously encouraging,' says Dr Skaer 'and as we have developed aseptic manufacture of Spidrex we'll be able to produce it to clinical standard in a very affordable manner'.

Seeking support

'Spidrex is a unique concept for cartilage repair,' Dr Skaer explains. 'While very exciting in itself, it gave us the necessary leverage and credibility to enter the crowded orthopaedic devices market and differentiate ourselves from other companies.'

With this in mind, Dr Skaer formed an exploitation vehicle to take their results forward and seek further investment. The vehicle is called Orthox Ltd and, so far, has received a EUR 1.8 million award from The Welcome Trust, the UK Biomedical Foundation , and EUR 100 000 from the UK government to continue developing the cartilage repair technology.

Orthox is now seeking a EUR 5.5 million investment from investors and various other funding programmes, including the EU's own 2011 Health call which the team is hopeful to receive. The aim is to have the technology in a human clinical trial in 2011 and on the market in 2012.

A total of eight partners worked on the Silkbone project including two other SMEs, Progentix from the Netherlands and 3H Biomedical from Sweden, and five academic institutions located in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.





Policy:

Impact assessment highlights need to shift focus to SMEs

Policy Update

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represented the largest group of participants in the Fifth and Sixth Framework Programmes (FP5 and FP6), and 80% had a positive influence on research collaborations, according to the latest impact assessment . However, the assessment also reveals that there is a need to shift focus from increasing the number of SMEs that participate in research programmes to increasing the impact participation has on SMEs.


As the largest research financier in the world, the European Commission continually looks for ways to improve its funding activity so as to further enhance innovation and competitiveness in SMEs across Europe. Impact assessments are an important tool for analysing and improving SME participation and the impact this has on Framework Programmes (FP). The rationale of the latest assessment focused on both the impact that SME participation had on a project's outcome and the impact a project's outcome had on an SME. The report was compiled from 14 months of assessment, based on 120 project case studies from FP5 and FP6.

'Until now the focus has been on increasing the sheer volume of SME participants - but now we must turn our attention to enhancing the actual impact research can have on an SME,' says Dr Bernd Reichert, head of the SME Unit. 'That is what is of interest to SMEs, the opportunity to exploit and do business based on their research. We therefore need to shift our focus to ensure we support SMEs in the right areas and develop new strategies that help them to grow.'

Here is a look at some of the key findings from the assessment:

Positive impacts

Small enterprises were found to bring overall added value to research collaborations. Approximately 80% of research projects saw SME contributions as being 'crucial' or 'important'. In addition, more than 70% of SMEs report a positive impact on their operations, processes, methods, tools or techniques as a result of their research project. In addition, 75% of SMEs have introduced new technologies into their operation and, of this figure, 25% attributed it to their research project.

Participation

SMEs represented the largest number of unique organisations in FP5 and FP6. More than 12 000 SMEs took part in FP5 (16.4% of all participants) and 11 200 in FP6 (16.9% of all participants). However, research and technology development (RTD) performers actually made up a larger number of participations. This is because research organisations focus on technical objectives and the FP currently serves more technical rather than business objectives, which is the primary focus for SMEs. As a result, the vast majority (75%) of SMEs only take part in 1 research project.

In addition, just 11.8% of FP6 and 12.6% of FP5 projects were coordinated by SMEs. This is put down to the amount of time and effort (both human and financial) that it takes to coordinate a project. It should be noted that it is another area the European Commission aims to improve.

Funding

Although SME participation increased, the amount of funding received by SMEs decreased from 13.2% in FP5 to 12.4% in FP6. However, individual funding per SME actually increased from an average of EUR 170 000 in FP5 to more than EUR 220 000 in FP6.

SME objectives

The impact assessment reveals that SMEs can be better characterised by their motivation and objectives rather than their research and development (R&D) capabilities. The report highlights two main groups of SME objectives: firstly, technology-focused SMEs that take part in research to further develop a specific technology that is core to their business; and secondly, network focused SMEs that wish to develop partnerships and relationships outside their regional networks.

Shift in focus

This assessment has produced some insightful results that highlight the need for a shift in focus. It increases the need to close the gap between pre-competitive research and exploitation, to help develop more opportunities for SMEs to exploit their results. It shows the need for a systematic monitoring system to better understand participant profiles. And it highlights the need for an SME-specific strategy that places the emphasis on impact while addressing SME objectives.

'SMEs are a crucial aspect of improving Europe's position in the global marketplace,' concludes Dr Reichert. 'So enhancing our efforts and contributions to SMEs is essential. This assessment highlights some real positives in the Framework Programmes but, at the same time, shows us where we might make improvements. The more we can do to improve our systems and strategies, the better.'

The executive summary along with the full version of this report will be available on the SME Techweb publications page at the end of July.





Events:

Building knowledge and networks for SMEs

Events





Special Event - November 2010


SME Conference 2010

Event type: Policy conference
Event date: 17-18 November 2010
Location: Brussels, Belgium

The small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) Conference is unique among SME-targeted events. It allows SMEs to discuss improvements to the Framework Programme with Ministers from three EU presidencies, key policymakers and senior European Commission officials.

The event is a golden opportunity for SMEs to present their views and ask direct questions of the most senior individuals involved in policymaking.

The aim of the Conference is to bring some conclusions to the European Council so that changes and improvements can be made.

So if you have any views or opinions on any part of the Framework Programme or the support available to SMEs, this is your chance to be heard.

The SME Conference 2010 will take place in Brussels, Belgium on 17 and 18 November 2010.

Registration for the conference opens on Friday, 25 June.

For further information or to register, please visit: www.smeconference2010.be

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June 2010


easyFairs® Manufacturing & Maintenance

Event type: Matchmaking
Event date: 23 June 2010
Location: Wels, Austria

This free matchmaking event targets any small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), industry or research and development (R&D) organisation from the fields of manufacturing and maintenance. The event has a particular focus on drive systems, energy efficiency, and process measuring and control technology. The event will take place at the easyFairs® Manufacturing & Maintenance fair in Wels, Austria.


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Innovations in Sport Textiles

Event type: Matchmaking
Event date: 24-25 June 2010
Location: Ghent, Belgium

This partnering event will take place during the international congress Innovations in Sport Textiles, which focuses on recent textile developments that will add new dimensions to sports. The event will cover the main topics of the congress: comfort, performance, sustainability, safety and well-being.


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Food Factory of the Future

Event type: Matchmaking
Event date: 30 June-2 July 2010
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

This free event is the ideal opportunity to find technology solutions and research partners for innovative food projects at one of the largest conferences for food technology in northern Europe. It will take place during the Food Factory for the Future congress, which focuses on innovative food processing and sustainable food production.


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July 2010


Tecomeuble 2010 - Furniture

Event type: Matchmaking
Event date: 01-02 July 2010
Location: Yecla, Spain

This event is specifically designed to create partnerships in the furniture industry at national and European levels. It will include presentations on new technologies, as well as a technology exhibition and brokerage event. The event will focus on 10 specific areas: nanotechnology, new materials, robotics, domotics, infography, adhesives, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, paint, coating and adhesives.


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Euroscience Open Forum 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Event date: 06 July 2010
Location: Turin, Italy

Set to take place during the biannual Euroscience Open Forum, a pan-European meeting dedicated to scientific research and innovation, this event aims to facilitate opportunities between businesses and research through planned meetings. The event will cover all Themes of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) including health, transport, energy and environment.

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September 2010


EU-China Partnership 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 06-08 September 2010
Location: Aalborg, Denmark

The EU-China Partnership is designed to develop and support business relations between Europe and China. The event is a unique opportunity for companies to find new business partners and gain access to new contracts and markets. Around 75 Chinese and 75 European companies are expected to attend the event.


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Industrial Technologies 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 07-09 September 2010
Location: Brussels, Belgium

Organised by the European Commission with the Belgian Presidency, this is a major conference and exhibition in the area of industrial technologies. A free matchmaking event, which aims to build research and innovation partnerships, will take place during the conference on 9th September.


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Riga Food 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 09 September 2010
Location: Riga, Latvia

Riga Food 2010 is the 15th International Trade Fair for Food, Drink, Food Processing Technology and Packing International Food Competition. During the event, Enterprise Europe Network Latvia is organising a matchmaking event to build business partnerships. The trade fair attracts 35 000 visitors and has 550 exhibitors from across Europe.


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MariMatch 2010 - Shipbuilding

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 09 September 2010
Location: Hamburg, Germany

MariMatch 2010 is an international brokerage forum for the shipbuilding, machinery and marine (SMM) technology sectors. It takes place during SMM 2010, the world's leading shipbuilding fair. The matchmaking event is an opportunity to establish cross-border contacts and potential research partners.


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Naro Tech 2010 - Renewables

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 10 September 2010
Location: Erfurt, Germany

Enterprise Europe Network Thüringen is organising an international brokerage event on 10 September. The event takes place during the 8th international symposium 'Materials made of Renewable Resources' and the exhibition 'Renewable Resources'. It is aimed at companies from numerous industry sectors including construction technology, energy, environment, agriculture, materials technology and standards.


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Central European Businessman Meeting

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 10 September 2010
Location: Pécs, Hungary

This event aims to develop trade within central Europe. It targets numerous industries including environmental, healthcare, creative and food. Meetings are arranged in advance to offer the best chance of finding business and research partners.


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MSV 2010 - Industrial

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 14-15 September 2010
Location: Brno, Czech Republic

MSV is the leading industrial fair in central Europe. During the event, a b2fair matchmaking event will take place that aims to open new market scales and establish sustainable partnerships through tailored business meetings arranged in advance.


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Automechanika 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 15 September 2010
Location: Frankfurt, Germany

Automechanika is the world's leading trade fair for the automotive industry. Enterprise Europe Network is organising an international brokerage event during the exhibition, aimed at companies from the automotive industry that are looking for cross-border business and research partners. The event will comprise pre-arranged business meetings.


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Space 2010 - Livestock

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 15-16 September 2010
Location: Rennes, France

Businesses looking to establish commercial or technological partnerships are invited to a matchmaking event at the Space exhibition for livestock professionals. Exhibitors and visitors can meet face to face during planned meetings to facilitate partnerships.


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Techa 2010 - Heritage

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 22 September 2010
Location: Arles, France

This brokerage event offers participants a bespoke programme of conferences, roundtables and face-to-face qualified meetings organised as a one-day programme by Enterprise Europe Network. It is designed for those interested in built heritage, natural heritage, culture dissemination and technologies linked to cultural heritage.


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Windmatch 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 23 September 2010
Location: Husum, Germany

This event takes place during the Husum Wind Energy 2010 exhibition. It is aimed at companies from the wind energy sector looking for business and research partners. The event will be organised into pre-arranged meetings.


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Subcontracting B2B 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 23 September 2010
Location: Tampere, Finland

Enterprise Europe Network is organising a matchmaking event to take place during the 2010 Subcontracting Trade Fair. The event is designed for companies looking for subcontractor, manufacturer, project partner or new business contacts. The main topics covered include engineering, design, electronics, rubber, plastics and metal.


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ICT and Automation

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 29-30 September 2010
Location: Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Enterprise Europe Network Bulgaria is organising a technology and business matchmaking event in the sphere of information and communication technology (ICT) and automation during the autumn exhibition programme of International Fair Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The first day will feature seminars on financing opportunities for clusters and associations. Day two will consist of pre-scheduled meetings between companies and organisations.


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BioSpain 2010

Event type: Matchmaking
Date: 29 September - 01 October 2010
Location: Pamplona, Spain

Enterprise Europe Network is co-organising a partnering event, which last year hosted over 1 000 participants from 28 countries, that will take place during BioSpain, the international biotechnology event. The event is aimed at companies and research institutes from the health, biotechnology, veterinary and pharmaceuticals sectors.


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Facts & Figures:

More measures needed to reach SME grants target in FP7

Facts & Figures

The 5th Progress Report on small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) participation in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) reveals that within the Cooperation Programme as a whole, 14.1% of the budget (EUR 1.2 billion) has been granted to SMEs - the EU's overall target is 15%. Securing the 15% can be achieved but only if additional measures are taken. One way of doing this is by launching further SME dedicated calls. Such measures are predicted to increase the SME share of the budget for the projects in the calls for 2011, and would bring us closer to the EU target of 15%.

'This report is highly encouraging and shows that SMEs across Europe are receiving more funding than ever,' says Dr Bernd Reichert, head of the SME unit. 'But we can always do more and to reach the 15% we must take action. So, we are putting in place further SME dedicated calls for 2011 and working on new draft programmes that put emphasis on SME targeted actions in work programmes. In this way, we aim to attract a higher proportion of SME participation and provide the most amount of funding to SMEs yet.'

Here's a look at some of the key figures and findings from the report:

EU contribution by theme

This progress report includes an analysis of SME participation rates across each of the 10 themes within the Cooperation Programme. The report found that themes vary greatly in terms of participation by SMEs - see Graph 1.



    Graph 1: The share of the EU Contribution going to SMEs, for each theme within the Cooperation Programme.

Participation

  • 2 526 signed grant agreements;
  • 28 079 participants;
  • 4 497 SME participants;
  • 3 675 unique SME participants;
  • 16% of all participants are SMEs;
  • 70% of the Signed Grant Agreements has at least 1 SME participant;
  • 17%: average success rate from application to funding for SMEs;
  • 10.4% of all coordinators are SMEs - see Graph 2.


  • Graph 2: SME Coordinators of projects, per theme

  • 1.8: the average number of SMEs in consortia - see Graph 3.


  • Graph 3: Average number of participants per project per theme

Budget

  • EUR 32.2 billion: total foreseen budget for FP7;
  • EUR 8.7 billion: EU contribution to all participants;
  • EUR 1.262 billion: EU contribution to SMEs;
  • 14.1% of EU contribution granted to SMEs ;
  • EUR 314 117: average EU contribution per participant;
  • EUR 274 847: average EU contribution per SME participant.

SME participation by theme

The progress report found that themes vary greatly in terms of budget dedicated to SMEs - see Graph 4 - and participating SMEs per country - see Graph 5.



    Graph 4: Average EU contribution, per participation


    Graph 5: Participating SMEs per country - Top 10 of Third Countries. Distribution over the themes

Regional Analysis

For the first time ever, the 5th SME Progress Report includes a regional analysis of the 15% target in signed Grant Agreements within the Cooperation Programme, as well as a detailed analysis of the participation of SMEs per region in the main programmes of FP7 i.e. Capacities and People.

A key finding is that participating SMEs are concentrated in certain regions; around 30% of participating SMEs are based in 15 of the 305 regions. Furthermore, half of the 305 Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS)-level 2 Regions in the Member States and Associated Countries reach the 15% target - see Map 1.



    Map 1: Cooperation Programme - FP7. Regional analysis of the 15% target in signed contracts as of 31 March 2010

Future estimate

The draft work programme for 2011 illustrates the European Commission's increased commitment to attracting higher levels of SME participation. For example, it has included 'hard measures' in half of the Cooperation Programme's themes. These 'hard measures' focus on SME-targeted actions and provide clearer benefits for SME participation.

With these changes and others already in mind, an estimate of the SME share of the budget can be calculated. It reveals that, for the Grant Agreements resulting from the calls of the Work Programme 2011, the share would increase to 15.7%. This will bring the EU contribution to SMEs closer to the 15% target.

Nevertheless, even with the 14.1% share of the budget to SMEs at this point , more than 20 000 European SMEs are within reach before the FP7 draws to a close.

The executive summary of this report along with the full version will be available on the SME Techweb http://ec.europa.eu/research/sme-techweb at the end of June.




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