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European Communities Aeronautics Research +


The participation of research-intensive SMEs in EC-funded research has always been a challenge in the area of aeronautics, considering the high level of structuring achieved by the supply chain in this particular field. However, the new instruments implemented by the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) with the objective of structuring the European Research Area, have been considered by many SMEs as a major hindrance on the road to participation, making it an even greater challenge than during the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5).

ECARE+, following the ECARE project, aims at fostering partnerships between large companies and SMEs, as well as between SMEs from different aeronautics regions of Europe.

Project objectives

ECARE+ follows up on the ECARE project (2003-2005), funded under FP5. It is planned to enlarge upon the tasks and the results of the first project. The final objective is to imrove the involvement of research-intensive aeronautical SMEs into EC funded research (Integrated Projects and STREPs), following a method adapted from the ECARE project, its identified best practices and its lessons learned:

  • A core group of eight partners (including six aeronautical regional clusters and benefiting from the support of an already established group of 11 other clusters) will further expand in order to involve up to 30 regions.
  • Information seminars on FP6 and FP7 (Seventh Framework Programme) opportunities will be organised, and SME capabilities will be assessed in order to expand the already existing database of companies to 300 entries. Partner search functionalities will be installed on the project’s website.
  • SME capabilities will be relayed to the IP coordinators after fine-tuning by ECARE+.

Ongoing collaboration with AeroSME and SCRATCH will be maintained and increased. Dialogue will be established with the regional governments or programmes as well as with the large companies in charge of coordination or aeronautical IPs.

The project duration will be 30 months, in order to cover the end of FP6 and the launch of FP7.

Description of the work

In the first phase, ECARE+ will expand its core group from what it was at the end of the ECARE project (17 clusters in the network) to 30 clusters. Common tools and methods will be discussed and implemented. Regional points and contacts will be trained for the subsequent project activities. The training will allow the ECARE Group partners to become fully operational for the project activities, and to become effective relays to SMEs in their region.

In the second phase, regional sessions will be organised in the 30 ECARE+ regions, with the aim of preparing SMEs to the first Call for Proposal of FP7 in the field of aeronautics. The ECARE+ sessions will present the opportunities of the first FP7 calls and the ECARE method to support participation of SMEs in IPs.

Once this information is disseminated during the regional sessions, the ECARE+ contact points will assess the technological capacities of SMEs and their willingness to bring a value-added participation to an IP. The ECARE+ database will expand from 200 to 300 entries and will be updated for each call during the life of the project. Small groups of SMEs will be identified and transmitted to each IP coordinator.

During this process, a strong focus of ECARE+ will be fostering partnerships between SMEs from different regions, with the aim of establishing trans-regional clusters for research or business.

ECARE+ will work in close collaboration with the other EC-funded support measures in the field of aeronautics, AeroSME and SCRATCH.

Expected results

ECARE+ will foster partnerships

  • between European aeronautics clusters
  • between SMEs from different clusters
  • between SMEs and large companies in the frame of FP7 Integrated Projects.

ECARE+ will organise 20 information seminars called "Regional Sessions" and will expand its SME databases to include up to 300 SMEs.

ECARE+ will establish common tools and methods between 30 European aeronautic clusters, and will take an active part in the dialogue between the various aeronautic regions of Europe.