Transnational cooperation to foster the competitiveness of European biotech SMEs
EuroTransBio (ETB), an initiative of governmental research and development and innovation (R&D&I) funding bodies across Europe and Russia, supports biotech SMEs to carry out international research projects. This is accomplished by promoting transnational cooperation through joint calls for proposals. ETB thus closed a gap through a new and complementary funding opportunity for SMEs. The EU-funded ETB-PRO (European programme for trans-national R&D&I cooperations of biotech SMEs) project built on three joint calls for collaborative projects by European biotech SMEs implemented through its predecessor (ETB, 2005 to 2008). Overall, the aim was to further develop the European Research Area by coordinating more biotech R&D&I across Europe through annual joint calls, and to continue these activities beyond the EU-supported project phase. Project partners established a sustainable joint programme for SMEs where national funding programmes share costs, skills and risks. Call procedures were streamlined, thus reducing staff and operation costs. The ETB portal was completely revamped to better cater to the needs of applicants and the general public, and to serve as a key information and communication hub for ETB partners. In total, ETB-PRO completed five calls for applied R&D&I projects in all biotechnology sectors from 2009 to 2013. The focus was on SMEs and strategic partners from academia who develop and commercialise innovative products and services. In addition, ETB-PRO participated in three joint calls with ERA-IB. Since, three more calls were launched during the sustainable phase (as of February, 2016), and thus far 157 transnational projects with a total value of 263.5 Mio € have been supported. Five conferences were held to boost the visibility and impact of the integrated funding programme for biotech SMEs, and to encourage cross-border partnerships. By supporting research-intensive SMEs and their partners, ETB-PRO helped to enhance and accelerate technology transfer while strengthening European efforts to achieve a thriving biotech industry.
Transnational cooperation, biotech SMEs, EuroTransBio, research and development and innovation, ETB-PRO