Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Abstract

SMEs are the cornerstone of Europe's competitive position and job creation. They form a dynamic and heterogeneous community which is confronted by many challenges. These include increased competition resulting from the completion of the European internal market and the growing demands of larger companies for which they often work as subcontractors.
To meet these challenges and to remain competitive, SMEs need constantly to innovate. Among other things, this means developing new technologies in-house or gaining access to them. Besides this, many SMEs both need and want to internationalise in search of new markets and business opportunities. The EU Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development is an excellent instrument to realise both objectives at the same time. SMEs are increasingly realising this, and more than 14,500 of them have participated in the Fourth Framework Programme (1994-1998). This is almost three times the level of SME participation in the Third Framework Programme (1991-1994), and is largely due to the special measures which the EU has set up to facilitate SME participation: the Technology Stimulation Measures for SMEs.

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