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COSME - new programme to foster the competitiveness of SMEs

21 November 2013
by eub2 -- last modified 21 November 2013

The European Parliament today adopted the COSME programme, a new programme for the competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). COSME aims to ease the access to credit problems that small businesses currently face. With a EUR 2.3 billion-budget over the period 2014-2020, the Programme for the Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) will for instance provide a guarantee facility for loans to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) of up to EUR 150,000. From now until 2020, 330,000 EU firms are expected to benefit from this facility. In addition, COSME will assist businesses and citizens in the following ways: 1) entrepreneurs will benefit from easier access to markets in the EU and beyond, 2) citizens who wish to become self-employed but currently face difficulties in setting up or developing their own business will receive tailored services and assistance, and 3) Member States' authorities will be better assisted in their efforts to elaborate and implement effective SME related policy reform.


What are the COSME objectives?

COSME aims at strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of the Union's enterprises, at encouraging an entrepreneurial culture and promoting the creation and growth of SMEs. These objectives will be met by:

  • improving access to finance for SMEs,
  • improving access to markets, inside the Union but also at global level,
  • improving framework conditions for businesses, and
  • promoting entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial culture.

When will the program start?

The Programme starts on 1st January 2014. It will run for 7 years, i.e. until 2020.

How can I find information on COSME?

Information on COSME and other EU funding opportunities, as well as practical support for SMEs, can be obtained from the local partners of the Enterprise Europe Network with more than 600 offices in the EU and beyond, co-financed by COSME. Services are available free of charge for any enterprise.

Information is also available on the COSME website

How can I access COSME funds?

  • via the local partner of the Enterprise Europe Network
  • via local financial intermediaries for loan guarantee or venture capital. You will find one close to you
  • via calls for proposals or calls for tenders. Look at the COSME website where they are all announced.

Does COSME support research and/or innovation?

No, research and innovation activities are supported by another EU programme called Horizon 2020. The two programmes complement each other.

Who will implement COSME?

The Commission is responsible for setting up the annual priorities of the programme but its implementation is partly delegated to an executive agency, the European Agency for SMEs (EASME). The COSME financial instruments are entrusted to the European Investment Fund (EIF).

What is the budget of COSME?

The overall indicative budget for the seven-year period of COSME (2014-2020) is €2.3 billion. A large share of the budget, 60% minimum, will be allocated to the financial instruments that proved their efficiency during the predecessor programme CIP (Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme).

What type of actions are supported under COSME?

COSME provides the following kind of support:

  • Loan guarantees for SMEs having difficulties to obtain loans from the banking system
  • Capital for risk capital funds providing investments for SMEs in their expansion and growth stage
  • Free of charge practical information and direct services to companies looking for partners, funding, information on new markets, EU programmes or legislation
  • Networking and exchange actions for policy makers aiming at reducing the administrative burden on SMEs and improving the framework conditions for businesses
  • Benchmarking and studies to improve the knowledge and monitoring of industrial sectors at European or global level, or on SME-related policies in Europe.

Concrete examples of services provided by COSME:

The Enterprise Europe Network provides business support services – in particular for SMEs – by offering information, feedback and partnering services, innovation, technology and knowledge transfer services. The Network provides services encouraging the participation of SMEs in the COSME and Horizon 2020 programmes, as well as internationalisation services beyond the Single Market. The Network helps SMEs with regards access to finance and EU funding, and helps them to become more resource and environmentally efficient (e.g. Green Action Plan).You can find more about it by visiting the nearest Enterprise Europe Network office (see list on the EEN website).

Loan guarantees for SMEs having difficulties to obtain loans from the banking system and Capital for risk capital funds providing investments for SMEs in their expansion and growth stage.

Erasmus for Entrepreneurs is a mobility scheme that allows potential or newly established entrepreneurs to spend a period of time collaborating with an experienced entrepreneur in another participating country. These mobility actions aim to help the entrepreneurs enrich their experiences, as well as learn and network with entrepreneurs in other participating countries.

The China, and the ASEAN and Mercosur IPR SME Helpdesks offer practical business advice from experienced professionals (lawyers, business executives, IPR investigators) in person, on-line, and through workshops, e-learning materials, and training. The service covers countries and regions, with a focus on high-growth markets where there are particular IPR problems of importance to European SMEs.

The SME internationalisation portal offers SMEs tailored and easily accessible information on how to expand their business in third countries. This will be done through integrating the information on existing support services, measures or other sources of information already existing at EU, national and regional levels. This portal will be a 'single-entry point' that will guide the SMEs on their way to internationalisation.

The Cluster internationalisation programme aims at intensifying cluster and business network collaboration across borders and sectoral boundaries; promoting the pan-European Strategic Cluster Partnerships to lead international cluster cooperation in new areas; and better support for SMEs in global competition.

The Resource efficiency self-assessment tool measure is to enable European SMEs to increase their understanding of their resource efficiency performance and which measures could be taken to increase their resource efficiency. It will provide all European SMEs with an easy-to-use common tool that also enables benchmarking of SME resource efficiency across countries and sectors.

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