Closer working with the research community is enabling Europe’s many SMEs to bring even greater added value to the economy.
EU funding in 2008
"EU funding for research and innovation activities gives SMEs important resources and opportunities to remain competitive in a global economy."
Around 99% of all European businesses are SMEs. They contribute up to 80% of employment in some industrial sectors, and are a rich source of entrepreneurialism, dynamism and change in new markets –especially those at the leading edge of technology. Although diverse in nature, all are confronted by the pressures of global competition and a need to cope with rapid change. Most are also limited in financial resources and need to act within short timeframes.
All Member States have research programmes relevant to SMEs. Complementary actions at Community level exert a leveraging effect by encouraging transnational cooperation and technology transfer, thus promoting higher growth and employment in small enterprises.
Two schemes – ‘Research for SMEs’ and 'Research for SME Associations' – finance mainly low- to medium-tech SME businesses or SME associations needing to outsource research and development to competent research performers such as universities and institutes. The researchers act as suppliers to their SME ‘customers’, who eventually acquire intellectual property rights or ownership of the project results. This is a very effective way to move discoveries quickly from the research domain to innovation in the marketplace.