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‘EURO-TRANS’ hits the ground running

The EU-funded EURO-TRANS initiative is promoting and supporting the participation of small and medium size enterprises in European surface transport research projects. Partners met at a launch meeting in Brussels on 16 January 2007 to discuss actions and objectives.

Tunnel traffic
© Peter Gutierrez

Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role in fostering innovation, creating employment and maintaining economic competitiveness. Their active involvement in the EU research is considered crucial.

“Our aim is to help get SMEs involved in the Seventh Research Framework Programme [FP7],” said EURO-TRANS coordinator Robert Csukai of OSEO. “This means enhancing co-operation between SMEs, major European R&D players, and industrial stakeholders.”

EURO-TRANS project partners, he said, will deliver direct assistance to potential SME participants, and a web-based communication infrastructure will be developed, providing access to important information on EU integrated projects (IPs) and networks of excellence (NoEs), specific projects with innovation needs, SME funding programmes and a complete SME database.

New SME events announced

Specific EURO-TRANS actions are to include the organisation of two international workshops, explained Csukai. The first is now set to take place in Warsaw in October 2007 and the second in Paris in January/February 2008. Between 200 and 300 SMEs are being targeted to attend each workshop, with coaching services provided, including help in searching for partners, call topics and the preparation of proposals. A new help desk will also be set up.

EU EURO-TRANS project officer Susana Martins outlined the Commission’s expectations, stressing the importance of increasing SME participation in FP7. She also presented the new work programme for transport research, to be announced officially at the FP7 Transport Research Information Day in Brussels on 14 February 2007.

What makes an SME an SME?

As defined by the European Commission:

  • Micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises employ fewer than 250 people and have an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million.
  • A small enterprise employs fewer than 50 people and has an annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet total not exceeding €10 million.
  • A microenterprise employs fewer than 10 people and has an annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet total not exceeding €2 million.

Strong team effort

The EURO-TRANS consortium Advisory Group includes the European Technology Platforms (ETPs) ERRAC, ERTRAC, and WATER BORNETP, as well as professional associations EARPA, CLEPA, UNIFE, EUCAR, COREDES and EMECRID. The ETPs will present their strategic research agendas and provide information on the running of future FP7 projects during the plenary sessions of the EURO-TRANS workshops.