Supporting SME participation in research framework programmes
SMEs and research, creating knowledge for growth
While the architects of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) were firmly committed to large-scale research collaboration as the means to achieve breakthrough results, they also retained a strong awareness of the need to support the involvement of SMEs. As well as allocating substantial funds for SME-specific measures, the European Commission made a considerable effort to encourage across-the-board participation of the smaller enterprises that are seen as dynamic drivers of competitiveness and job creation in Europe. Despite this, some problems still remained unresolved. These were... addressed by special actions introduced during the lifetime of FP6, resulting in an increase in SME requests for funding. The experience gained offered some useful lessons, which have been applied to good effect in making FP7 even more SMEfriendly. The thematic priorities have been reviewed, the ceiling percentage of EU support raised, and the financial risk for small businesses reduced. A more adaptable approach to the framing of thematic strategies is foreseen - and there is greater scope for flexibility in the structuring of the various support mechanisms.