Mercado Interior, Industria, Emprendimiento y Pymes

Defence-related SMEs

Defence-related SMEs

Defence-related small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are key enablers of innovation and growth. There are more than 2,500 SMEs playing a central role in the complex defence supply chains in Europe.

In the spotlight

  • New recommendation: cross-border market access for defence and security SMEs

    This recommendation proposes supportive measures to improve the position of SMEs in defence supply chains.

The European Defence Fund offers opportunities to SMEs. See the new brochure for more information. Or ask specific questions via the dedicated page.

Clustering can help these SMEs to diversify into new markets, and exploit synergies between the defence and civil sectors. This is achieved by developing new civilian products based on technologies and materials originating from the defence sector, or vice versa.

The European Commission set out a number of actions for defence-related SMEs in its defence communication of 2014 and the 2016 ‘European defence action plan’. This includes the use of existing EU programmes and tools designed to support the process of (regional) clustering:

  • The EU programme for the competitiveness of SMEs - COSME - with a budget of €2.3 billion, will be instrumental in support of these actions. For example, under COSME there will be funding opportunities for European strategic cluster partnerships. These partnerships offer great dual-use potential for defence-clusters to link up with other economic clusters and better support SMEs in positioning themselves globally.
  • The European Network of Defence-related Regions (ENDR) presents opportunities for regional organisations and clusters to exchange best practices and experiences in the area of their dual use strategies, with a particular focus on SMEs.
  • SMEs can also tap into the potential of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). The network can guide SMEs engaged in dual-use activities towards:
    • networking and partnerships
    • internationalisation
    • technology transfers
    • finding business opportunities
  • In addition to COSME and the EU’s programme for innovation Horizon 2020, the European structural and investment funds also offer considerable potential to fund dual-use projects.
  • DualA September 2017 brochure, showcases SMEs that have successfully taken advantage of EU funding to develop dual-use projects and so, their business. It will help SMEs to understand how the different EU funding tools work.
  • A guidance document for SMEs and regional authorities, released in 2014, clarifies the opportunities and eligibility rules for dual-use projects funded by EU instruments such as COSME, Horizon 2020, and the European Structural and Investment Funds. It also provides ideas and tips on how companies, and SMEs in particular, as well as public administrations, could develop new dual-use strategies:
  • The Handbook for Defence-related SMEs released by the European Defence Agency, gives simple, smart and short advice on how to get easier access to the defence market

Conferences & workshops

The Commission organises events, which provide more information on how defence-related companies, in particular SMEs, can contribute to regional economic development:

The Commission and Andalusian regional agency IDEA organised a symposium on 3 and 4 October in Seville to promote research and innovation in defence & dual use. Opportunities were explored to support synergies between funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds, the European Defence Fund, and other sources of funding.

Jointly organised by the Commission and Région Sud Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur on 20-21 September, this event promoted defence and dual use technologies in the maritime field. It brought together about 200 participants, representing high-level experts, public authorities, clusters and SMEs.

This 1.5-day event brought together national and European authorities, defence/security-related businesses and knowledge institutions on 4 and 5 May 2017 to learn more about the business perspectives in the dual use areas of drones and space, as well as to stimulate the development of a regional dual use strategy in Denmark. It showcased interesting cases of dual use companies.

This conference targeted maritime dual use opportunities in autonomous systems and satellite applications in the Solent region. The goal of the conference was to highlight innovation priorities and initiate relationships across defence and civil organisations, involving major companies and SMEs. The conference took place on 4 April 2017, preceding the Ocean Business trade event.

The European Commission hosted this half-day workshop in Brussels on 9 March to explain the opportunities offered to regions and clusters by the EU’s new European Defence Action Plan (EDAP). The EDAP is the Commission's contribution to a stronger European defence through ensuring that the European industrial base is able to meet future security needs in priority areas.

Organised by the European Commission and Bretagne Développement Innovation in Rennes on 23-24 November this symposium has harvested best practices among European regions and clusters for cybersecurity strategies regarding dual use technologies, provided information on the latest policy developments and promoted more co-operation between regions.

More than 220 participants took part in this conference which was jointly organised by the European Commission and the Agency of Innovation and Development of Andalusia. It showed how a dual-use approach can contribute to regional growth and jobs. Representatives from Croatia, Podkarpacie and Andalusia presented how they address such a dual-use approach in their Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3). This approach is offering opportunities for business development, innovation and cooperation to companies (from large to small), clusters, academia and research institutes. Participants to the event adopted the Seville Declaration (329KB), a set of recommendations for European, national and regional policymakers to consider when designing policies and measures to support a European industry and R&D+I agenda in the field of dual use.

  • European regions and dual use technologies (Bordeaux, 2015)

This seminar was co-organised by the European Commission and Aquitaine Développement Innovation on 11-12 June 2015. It offered an opportunity for four regions (Andalusia, Aquitaine, Brittany and Podkarpackie) to share their experiences in the area of dual-use technologies. Various defence-related SMEs also took part in this event.

Organised by European Regions Research and innovation Network (ERRIN), this workshop on 14 April 2015 explores the potential of dual use research and development (R&D) and encourages the involvement of defence-related SMEs in future EU funding programmes.

Co-organised by the European Commission, the European Defence Agency (EDA), and the European Association of Regional Development Agencies (EURADA), this workshop on 25 November 2014 explored opportunities for defence-related clusters in Europe to develop dual-use projects and activities.

This workshop, on 8 October 2014, explored how a dual-use approach can be integrated into smart specialisation strategies. It also showed how some regions, clusters, and SMEs are already starting to take advantage of these opportunities.

The European Commission, the European Association of Regional Development Agencies (EURADA), and Scottish Enterprise co-hosted a workshop called 'Enhancing dual-use technologies and products/services as a regional competitiveness factor' on 12 May 2014.

  • Competitiveness of defence industry and regional dimension (Brussels, 2013)

A dialogue with the industry was organised by the European Association of Regional Development Agencies (EURADA) on 9 October 2013.

Attendees' questionnaire (1 MB)

Meeting report (38 kB)

  • Regional Smart Specialisation for the EU Defence Sector (Brussels, 2013)

This workshop was hosted by the European Commission and the European Defence Agency (EDA) on 28 January 2013. It introduced the concept of smart specialisation and regional policy funding to European companies and research centres.

Agenda (181 kB)

Proceedings and presentations of the event

Related links