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Research for the benefit of SMEs

15 January 2010
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 21 January 2010

The aim is to strengthen the 'innovation capacity' of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe and their contribution to the development of new technology based products and markets.



The programme will help SMEs outsource research, increase their research efforts, extend their networks, better exploit research results and acquire technological know how, bridging the gap between research and innovation.

Why is it important?

Representing 99% of all enterprises in Europe, they contribute more than two thirds of European GDP and provide 75 million jobs in the private sector. They are therefore key to implementation of the renewed Lisbon strategy for economic growth and employment.

What will be funded?

To achieve the objectives of 'Research for the benefit of SMEs', the following three groups of indirect actions will be implemented:

  • Supporting SMEs outsourcing research activities
  • This support aims at SMEs or SME associations in need of outsourcing research to providers of research services ('RTD performers') such as universities, research centres or other, more specialised SMEs.

It will be implemented through two distinct schemes:

  • Research for SMEs - targeting mainly low to medium technology SMEs with little or no research capability, but also high-tech SMEs who need to outsource research to complement their core research capability. Projects aim at creating new knowledge or producing results with clear potential to improve or develop new products, processes or services for the participating SMEs.

"Research for SMEs at a glance"

  • Research for SME associations - targeting associations which act on behalf of their SME members to identify and address common technical problems and to promote the effective dissemination and take-up of results. Projects in this activity may address topics such as pre-normative research issues, technological problems related to the development and implementation of legislation, and technological problems of whole industrial sectors.

"Research for SME associations at a glance"

Developing and coordinating support to SMEs at national level

In the long-term perspective, it is expected that national and regional research programmes for SMEs establish common objectives and evaluation methods for trans-national research cooperation with a significant added value to Community support for the benefits of SMEs.

  • Financial support, based on 'Article 169 initiatives';
  • Financial support to national schemes providing financial means ('exploratory awards') to SMEs or SME associations to prepare proposals;
  • ERA-NET projects will aim at the coordination of national or regional programmes targeting SMEs in a similar way as 'Research for SMEs' and 'Research for SME associations';
  • A 'Coordination and support action' will be awarded to the network of National Contact Points (NCPs) appointed by EU Member States and Associated Countries for 'Research for the benefit of SMEs'.

Support measures

In this context, additional measures will be launched to reinforce the impact of participation in SME-specific research projects and to closely monitor and assess participation in both FP6 and FP7:

  • 'Coordination and support actions' will be awarded to projects favouring and increasing the impact of actions undertaken under 'Research for the benefit of SMEs';
  • Studies will be undertaken at various stages of FP7 to analyse and assess the socio-economic impact on and needs of participants in 'Research for the benefit of SMEs'.


The European Commission will fund activities targeting SMEs by selecting project proposals submitted following the publication of a 'Call for proposals'. When the first calls of the SME Work Programme are published they will be announced on this page.



The EU Member States have earmarked a total of € 1336 million for funding SME research support over the duration of FP7.

Other relevant European activities

The Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) will also provide support to networks of intermediaries and national schemes for actions to encourage and facilitate the participation of SMEs, while the participation of SMEs will be encouraged and facilitated, and their needs taken into account, across all parts of FP7.

Source: CORDIS