I am delighted to be in this distinguished panel to discuss SME policy in times of crisis as well as share EUREKA’s and its vast network’s views and expertise in this sector.
EUREKA and its 39 member network, respond to the needs of industry aiming to increase European competitiveness in the world market. Since its set up in 1985, EUREKA enables large companies, research centres, universities and national administrations to cooperate in near market research and development. EUREKA projects are financed through national public and private funding
EUREKA supports three types of projects where 45% of participants are SMEs:
Clusters: Long-term and strategically-significant, they involve a large number of participants mainly from Europe’s largest companies and develop generic technologies of key importance to European competitiveness.
Individual Projects: Small, shorter-term projects, involving participants from at least two member countries. They result in a product, process or service with a significant advance in their sector. Some of these projects are grouped together in a thematic network, known as an Umbrella.
And the Eurostars Projects which is our success story. It is the first European funding and support programme to be specifically dedicated to R&D performing SMEs. These are small, short-term projects, involving participants from at least two member countries where the consortium leader is a research-performing SME. They are programmed jointly with the European Community (through the Framework Programme).
Eurostars exploits Article 169 of the EU Treaty, requiring co-decision by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers
In view of the current crisis, I would like to stress, and as mentioned by President Sarkozy, that instruments such as EUREKA should be better exploited in order to overcome the economic difficulties. Namely, EUREKA as a bottom-up, ‘industry-knows-best’ initiative, with a multi-local approach: national offices where the language of the local businesses is spoken and the cultural context is understood. Eurostars, with its light procedures and central harmonised INDEPENDENT evaluation and synchronised funding will help combat the duplication of research. It also demonstrates a will at EU level (also national level with dedicated e* funds) to exploit trusted external but public European platforms to promote and support pan-European R&D efforts.
EUREKA aims to simplify the work of SMEs by cooperating closely with the national networks and contributing to cutting red tape procedures, not using external consultants as well as developing and promoting EU standards.
I look forward to a lively EBS debate and encourage the audience to come up with their questions and suggestions.
Director, EUREKA SecretariatStuart Langridge