Opportunities for SMEs in FP7 research, Theme 2: Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology
Research-intensive small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the main economic drivers for scientific and technological developments in food, agriculture, fisheries and biotechnology and thus contribute to the implementation of the Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy¹ concept. Recognising their innovation potential, EU-supported research is actively seeking SME participation.
The 2007 work programme ² of Theme 2 has also been designed with a view to attract industrial participants, particularly SMEs. These might be: end-users of new technologies (such as breeding companies, SMEs or agricultural cooperatives involved in the production, packaging or control of food or feed, etc); technology providers (mainly engineering companies) or technology-based biotechnology companies (in the areas of agricultural or industrial biotechnology).
Involvement of SMEs is being encouraged in all relevant research projects that aim to support the competitiveness of European industries. SME participation is supported particularly in those dealing with the concrete industrial application of new technologies or research results, or the development of industrially relevant technologies.
FP7 is even more favourable to SME participation
FP7 has a broader approach to Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology research than FP6, covering also new areas, such as agriculture, fisheries and industrial biotechnology. Furthermore, it is a 7 year programme, with long term continuity of structure, rules and procedures. A significant part (15%) of the 1.9 billion dedicated to Theme 2 is meant to be spent on SMEs research.
FP7 "Rules for participation" allow funding of up to 75% of total costs for research and development activities of SMEs, compared with the 50% in the previous Framework Programme. Management and training activities receive up to 100 % funding.
Better protection of intellectual property
The rules governing intellectual property in EU-funded projects have been greatly improved in the last framework programmes. Clearer intellectual property rights (IPR) rules have been drafted with particular attention to the special needs of SMEs.
Reduced need for financial checks and bank guarantees
In FP7, a guarantee fund replaces the 'collective financial responsibility'. This fund is set up to cover the financial risks of defaulting project participants and will thus make industry participation much easier and less costly.
Where to get help to prepare a proposal
The network of National Contact Points (NCPs) in the Member States and Associated Countries provides guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in the Framework Programme.
The SME Contact Officer in the Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology Directorate is Szilvia Nemeth.
Read the guide to funding schemes and network opportunities for research-intensive SMEs.
Other Support Services:
A number of other support services related to innovation are available in CORDIS.
In addition to FP7, other forms of support for innovation can be accessed through further EU programmes, in particular the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) financed by DG Enterprise.
Participation by low and medium technology SMEs related to food, agriculture and fisheries and biotechnology is encouraged under the 'Capacities' programme in FP7.
Finally, SME TechWeb provides information and resources for technology-oriented SMEs.
SMEs participation in FP6: € 64.5 million
In the Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006), the Thematic Priority 5 "Food Quality and Safety" encouraged SMEs to participate in all activity areas and projects, with numerous topics of special interest for SMEs being included throughout the programme. Overall, out of the € 700 million of the FP6 budget available for "Food quality and safety", some € 64.5 million were spent for the benefit of SMEs.
During FP6, research intensive SMEs in the food quality and safety sector gained a pivotal role as key players and driving forces in the research activities of several small and large EU-funded projects. The "Food" SME sector is very diverse and ranges from classical SMEs (food production) to biotechnology, engineering and software SMEs that develop specific applications (diagnostic tests, measurement equipment, software tools) for the quality and safety of food. The scientific involvement ranged from activities such as demonstration activities, engineering and end-user oriented type of tasks. Specialised SMEs with expertise in intellectual property management, technology transfer, project management or training activities also participated actively in some EU-funded projects.
- less than 250 employees,
- annual turnover less or equal to 50 million €
- and balance sheet less or equal to 43 million €
- the company has to be "independent"
See more details on the SME definition
¹ Bring together science, industry and other stakeholders, to exploit new and emerging research opportunities that address social, environmental and economic challenges by transforming life sciences knowledge into new, sustainable, eco-efficient and competitive products.
² The 2007 work programme is published in CORDIS
Last updated on: 2010-05-03