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Dear ETAP Forum participants,

Dear ETAP Forum participants, Overcoming Barriers to Eco-innovation also means overcoming the cancellation of the 8th European Forum on Eco-Innovation due to the transportation disorder in April.

In order to exploit the contributions that both speakers and delegates have made in the preparation of the forum, the organisers facilitated the creation of the ‘Bilbao Declaration on eco-innovation in SMEs’. To download the Declaration, please click here.

Yours sincerely,

The ETAP Forum Secretariat

Overcoming barriers to SMEs in eco-innovation

Eco-innovation is essential to respond to major current and future societal challenges, particularly in terms of the environment. The creativity and dynamism of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) means they have a crucial role to play in this area - both as eco-innovators and as recipients of green technologies. Eco-innovation is key to supporting our society over the next 50 years and to minimise the gap between environmental pressures and a standard of living with which we will feel comfortable in our society. Technology will have to bridge that gap and the development of that technology involves eco-innovation in products, processes and – increasingly – services, much provided by SMEs.

According to European Commission figures, more than 99% of all European businesses are SMEs. They provide two out of three of all private-sector jobs and contribute to more than half of the total value-added created by businesses in the EU. Moreover, SMEs are the true backbone of the European economy, being primarily responsible for wealth and economic growth, in addition to their key role in innovation and R&D.

All these enterprising companies are trying to find their niche in the economy and respond to needs in society. But, while they are creative and dynamic, their size is such that their market influence is very small. Equally SME capabilities for developing new products are inevitably restricted. In the same way, even earlier in the chain of knowledge and innovation, their access to expertise, finance and markets is similarly circumscribed. However, the brightest ideas come from small and medium-sized companies.

Moreover, different policies are necessary to support the crucial front runners that have the creative ideas and equally important late adapters that take such ideas and help society arrive at its goals. The front runners have already shown their willingness and readiness to think ahead of environmental legislation. They help policymakers formulate new policies, whereas the late adapters need to be brought in to adapt existing knowledge. So we need them all.

The Bilbao Forum is intended first of all to get entrepreneurs themselves to speak about their specific needs and the barriers to their development. These will be examined against the background of what governments and other organisations are already doing to support SMEs in the eco-innovation sector.

Concrete examples will be presented of best experiences and best practices of how SMEs can respond to develop their niche in the economy. The intention is to elaborate recommendations for more effective government policies at the regional, national and European level. Participants will include a number of specific SMEs together with policymakers, finance institutions, research institutions and relevant non-governmental organisations.

Admission for the forum is free but upon registration only. If you are interested to participate please send an email to the ETAP Forum Secretariat