EC 'Eurostars'

September 18, 2007

The European Commission (EC) has deemed research-performing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) ?the entrepreneurial stars of Europe?, hoping to raise ?800 million extra funds for them.

The European Commission (EC) has deemed research-performing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) 'the entrepreneurial stars of Europe', hoping to raise €800 million extra funds for them.

The result is Eurostars, a programme to finance new partnerships between R&D SMEs and 27 countries across Europe. Scheduled to be officially launched on 2 October this year and to run for 6 years, the EC will contribute €100 million, with the countries investing a further €300 million. This will then mobilize up to €400 million in additional private funding, according to the EC.

The programme's aim is to make participating countries pool their national research funding in favour of SMEs, resulting in better, more efficient use of funds. SMEs represent 99% of all enterprises in Europe and their small size, flexible organization and commitment to research enables them to take advantage of a rapidly changing economic environment, seize new market opportunities and create more jobs. Any SME that invests 10% or more of FTE or turnover into research is eligible to apply, with the first deadline being in early December this year.

"Eurostars brings a new level of cooperation and integration between community and national research programmes," said Commissioner Potocnik. "Creating strong links between public and private funding, Eurostars will give a boost to R&D performing SMEs, allowing them to collaborate with the best research teams in Europe, and to transform new ideas into successful businesses."

The funding will target multinational projects, including those with nonSMEs, such as universities and large companies, with short- to medium-term commercial results. The initiative is one many of the ways that the EC is attempting to boost research partnerships between member states. To achieve this, the Commission has identified three areas to increase integration:

  • Scientific integration, which entails common definition of priorities, and common evaluation and selection of projects, on the basis of excellence and economic impact.

  • Management integration through the establishment of a dedicated management structure for faster decision-making.

  • Financial integration, which includes setting up a multi-annual financing plan, pooling EC and member states' funds into a common pot.

Eurostars will be managed by the Eureka Secretariat in Brussels, which was launched over a decade ago to increase innovation in industry, research centres and universities across all sectors. The overall aim is to raise investment in R&D to 3% of GDP by 2010 - the total value of goods and services produced by a nation.

www.eurostars-eureka.eu