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SMEs get a push to help the environment

Empowering smaller businesses in young EU countries to embark on environmental and related research projects can have beneficial economic effects and encourage sustainability.
SMEs get a push to help the environment
As the EU grows, it is important to integrate younger members into its economic and funding programmes. The need is greatest for New Member and Associated States (NMAS) whose small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from financial and technical EU support. The EU-funded project 'SME action for the environment in Candidate Countries' (SAFE) supported networks for quality research and reached out to SMEs. It showed businesses in this category as well as research organisations how to prepare EU-funded project proposals related to technological development and environmental research.

Project researchers achieved their aims by working with the EU's National Contact Points (NCPs) in each state, as well as with civil society organisations, environmental researchers, environmental groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), business promotion bodies and others related to conservation or ecosystem health. In addition, the project identified environmental multipliers and supported them through training, knowledge exchange and best practices.

To encourage networking and joint EU projects, SAFE also built a database of more than 1,300 organisations in implicated countries covering research bodies, academia and industry. It held five workshops on environmental multipliers in Bulgaria, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Turkey, as well as a conference in Turkey.

SAFE produced a management plan and quality assurance manual to further its aims. It published several articles and documents to support joint projects and attracted the attention of numerous stakeholders. This resulted in the formation of many new consortia under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), boding well for the European environment in general.

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