Can private companies participate in FP7?
While the Seventh Framework Programme is the European Union’s chief instrument for the public funding of research, an increase in private funding of R&D is one of the key goals of the EU’s Lisbon Strategy for ‘knowledge for growth’, and the programme is designed with this in mind.
For example, the European Research Council (ERC), being set up under the Ideas programme of FP7 will fund projects based on the sole criteria of excellence, as judged by peer review, whether the researchers are from the private or public sectors.
Indeed some parts of FP7 – such as the activities in support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) under the Capacities programme – are designed explicitly to meet the needs of the private sector and develop its capacity for innovation.
Also, the collaborative research projects that form the backbone of the framework programmes, such as those funded by the Cooperation programme, are open to participation for partners from the private sector, whether private research institutes, industry or SMEs.
How will FP7 benefit industry and SMEs?
The major fields of research supported by the themes of the Cooperation programme, and the research objectives within them, have been set with the help of European Technology Platforms (ETPs). These are industry led and bring together public and private sector stakeholders to define research and development priorities, timeframes and action plans on a number of issues that are strategically important to achieving Europe's future growth, competitiveness and sustainability.
The Marie-Curie actions funded under the People programme aim to increase mobility between public and private sectors, as well as between countries. To this end they will support industry training, joint research partnerships and staff secondments between the two sectors.
As well as specific actions to help SMEs, the Capacities programme aims to develop European research infrastructures, optimise their use and improve access for researchers, including from industry. It will also support regional research-driven clusters, involving enterprises as well as universities and local authorities.
European enterprises should also benefit from the exploitable research results and technologies that emerge from the Framework Programme. For more information on such technology transfer from European programmes see the CORDIS Technology Marketplace.
How can SMEs participate?
The European Commission will fund FP7 research by selecting project
proposals submitted following the publication of a ‘Call for proposals’.
When the first calls are published they will be announced on the
The proposal process is triggered by the call. The legal text of the call defines the necessary specifications to prepare and submit a proposal, i.e. research theme, funding instruments used, address and other technical means for submission, deadlines etc. Proposals that do not meet the specifications in the call will be disqualified.
Throughout FP7, SMEs will actively be encouraged to participate in all research actions, in particular those under the research themes of the Cooperation programme. The programme aims to facilitate the optimal participation of mainly ‘research performing SMEs’ by means such as simplified funding and administrative procedures and greater flexibility in choosing the funding schemes. Areas of particular interest to SMEs will be identified in the individual work programmes of each theme.
The Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) to be set up under the Cooperation programme are public-private partnerships that will also encourage industry participation.
The ERC will also issue calls where research teams from SMEs can compete in the Ideas programme on the basis of excellence. Furthermore, the People programme will encourage increased SME participation in the ‘Industry-academia partnerships and pathways’ Marie-Curie action.
In FP7, ‘ Research for the benefit of SMEs’ aims to strengthen the innovative capacity of mainly medium to low tech SMEs and their contribution to the development of new technology based products and markets. This will be facilitated by helping SMEs outsource research activities, increase their research efforts, acquire technological know how, extend their networks, and better exploit research results. There are two main funding schemes:
- Research for SMEs - supporting small groups of innovative SMEs to solve common or complementary technological problems;
- Research for SME associations - supporting SME associations and SME groupings to develop technical solutions to problems common to large numbers of SMEs in specific industrial sectors or segments of the value chain.
Where can SMEs find support?
The network of National Contact Points (NCPs) provide locally-tailored support for participants in the EU’s framework programmes. The contact details for the newly-appointed NCPs specifically for SMEs in FP7 are now available.
For further information on SMEs in FP7 also see the SME TechWeb service.
Competitiveness and innovation Framework
Programme (CIP) will also provide a coherent framework for all European
Community actions implemented in the field of entrepreneurship, SMEs,
industrial competitiveness, innovation, ICT development and use, environmental
technologies and intelligent energy. It is designed to be complementary
to FP7, as well as other European Community programmes.
The CIP is structured around three main blocks of activities, with the ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme’, particularly focusing on SMEs. It will provide support to networks of intermediaries and national schemes for actions to encourage and facilitate the participation of SMEs in FP7 through its horizontal services in support of business and innovation.
Last updated on: 2007-08-21