European SMEs contribute to more than two-thirds of the EU's Gross Domestic Product. Strengthening SME innovation capacity and supporting their role in developing new technology-based products is therefore crucial to the EU's economy.
EU funding in 2011
€ 229.31 million
However, bridging the gap between SME research and the market introduction of new products and services is often very difficult.
All Member States have SME-relevant actions. But frequently these do not support transnational research cooperation and technology transfer. Stepping in to fill this gap are EU actions. These support SMEs access to Research and Development (R&D) funding, the internationalisation of their operations and their competitiveness. Closer working relationships with the research community will increase the value of the European economy, drive growth and bring more job opportunities.
The two core action lines, 'Research for SMEs' and 'Research for SME Associations', support demonstration actions for completed FP7 SME projects that help introduce innovative products to the market. In 2011, a €20 million budget call for proposals was published.
Eurostars is a R&D programme undertaken by the EU, the EU-27 and five FP7 associated countries. It supports R&D-focused SMEs bring new products and services to the market while fostering the integration of national R&D programmes. Under the EUREKA Secretariat, Eurostars organised two calls for proposals in 2011. These actions increased participation of SMEs across FP7. By the end of 2011, the total EU financial contribution to SMEs through the Cooperation Specific Programme had increased to approximately 15%.