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‘SURFACE NET’ opens EU transport research to New Member State SMEs

On 6 June 2007, a workshop on ‘EU Surface Transport in the Seventh Framework Programme’ took place in Sofia, Bulgaria. The event, organised by the EU-funded SURFACE NET initiative, delivered new ideas for ensuring sustainable urban mobility and strengthening the competitiveness of SMEs.

City tram
Focus on urban transport
© Peter Gutierrez

“The workshop was aimed specifically at SMEs that have their main activities in the field of surface transport,” says Sónia Silva of Portugal’s INOVA +, “but participants also included representatives of state authorities, agencies and associations. There were at least 50 participants from national institutions, making the event a significant national-level forum.”

Building on proven methodologies and tools, says Silva, SURFACE NET is working to develop a new approach to support the participation of SMEs from New Member States and Candidate Countries in the field of Surface Transport. Led by INOVA +, the multidisciplinary and multi-national consortium is providing crucial market analysis and support to SMEs, assessing research programmes from technological, financial and strategic standpoints.

Important associations working to implement SURFACE NET measures in addressed countries include URTP in Romania, NSBS in Bulgaria and UND in Turkey.

Important presentations for SMEs

Representing the European Commission, Luisa Prista, Head of DG Research’s Surface Transport Unit, delivered a key presentation on the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the European Technology Platforms, including rules for SME participation.

The SURFACE NET conference
Meeting in Sofia

Project coordinator Miguel Sousa presented INNOV’CHECK, an online tool developed by under SURFACE NET by INOVA +, designed to perform technology audits for all kinds of companies. “INNOV’CHECK facilitates the auditor's task,” explained Sousa, “by structuring key questions that will cover several areas such as technology, organisation, strategy and business environment.”

 

Other workshop sessions featured practical advice on building project consortia and writing successful research proposals. Surface transport sub-themes were also discussed, including ensuring sustainable urban mobility, improving safety and security, strengthening competitiveness and cross-cutting activities.

Real workshop results

“As a direct result of our workshop,” says Silva, “we now have eight new ideas for proposals related to ensuring sustainable urban mobility and strengthening the competitiveness of SMEs.”

A press conference on 7 June 2007 drew 27 journalists from 24 mass media outlets. Silva says the event made a real and important impact on companies and society at large.

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