Brussels 19-12-2007 – At the dawn of Slovenia’s EU Presidency, EUREKA and its Slovenian Chairmanship team have emphasised the important role the initiative plays within the European Research Area (ERA), particularly responding to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In collaboration with the Slovenian Permanent Representation in Brussels and the Slovenian Business and Research Association, EUREKA organised an interactive discussion on its contribution to the ERA. Slovenia took over the Chairmanship of the initiative in July this year and among its objectives has been to strengthen EUREKA’s position within the ERA and increase support for SMEs. The recently-launched joint EU-EUREKA Eurostars Programme for research-performing SMEs responds to this ambitious niche market. “SMEs frequently find it difficult to obtain financial support for their often high-risk research and development (R&D) projects. The Eurostars Programme is the best of three worlds, bringing together EUREKA’s flexible procedures, national funding programmes and FP7. It offers them a single access point to both national and European research funding at national level,” explains Luuk Borg, Head of the EUREKA Secretariat. “Together we are even stronger and more ambitious,” adds Aleš Miheli, High Level Group Chairman who is heading the Chairmanship team, speaking of the fact that Slovenia will hold both the EU Presidency and EUREKA Chairmanship. The Slovenian EU Presidency has declared that renewed impetus should be given to increasing research and development (R&D), improving business potential, supporting SMEs and creating flexible labour markets. EUREKA enables industry and institutes across Europe and beyond to collaborate in a bottom-up approach to developing and exploiting innovative close-to-market technologies. It has long championed SME participation in European projects, putting them in the driving seat and enabling them to bring innovation to market in a short time. Speakers also present at the event included Deputy Permanent Representative Mary Veronica Tovšak Pleterski, director of Slovenian Business & Research Association Boris Cizelj, project participant Martin Kopa from Alpina, d.d. Žiri. For more information on EUREKA visit www.eureka.be. Details concerning the recently-launched Eurostars Programme can be found at http://www.eurostars-eureka.eu. The Slovenian EU Presidency visit http://www.eu2008.si.