Stepping up the technological innovation role of small businesses As a result of a call for proposals, 23 new projects for support under the CRAFT programme have been selected. The European Commission will assist more than 150 European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to carry out innovation in the field of industrial technologies a... As a result of a call for proposals, 23 new projects for support under the CRAFT programme have been selected. The European Commission will assist more than 150 European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to carry out innovation in the field of industrial technologies and materials. For the purposes of RTD programmes, SMEs are defined as companies with less than 500 employees, a turnover of less than ECU 38 million and less than a third of their capital held by a large company. Under the European Union's Fourth Framework Programme for research and technological development (1994-1998), a special effort will be made to encourage the participation of SMEs in Community research projects. To this end, there are plans to extend the scope of CRAFT, which was originally aimed solely at industrial technologies and materials. SMEs are essential components of Europe's industrial structure and employ 70% of the European workforce. However, because of their size, they face financial and practical difficulties in developing their innovation capabilities and in participating in Community research programmes. CRAFT was launched in 1991 in an attempt to overcome these difficulties and provide support for cooperative research projects for SMEs. Companies without their own research capability can group together in order to have some of their research work done by outside research centres, universities or companies. The results already achieved show that CRAFT has effectively provided new opportunities for SMEs. In three years BRITE/EURAM has assisted more than 1,400 SMEs, 50% of which had not previously been involved in a cooperative research project. More than 80% had no previous experience of cooperating at European level and more than 75% face heavy international competition in their particular industry. Other significant points are the average size of the SMEs involved (less than 200 employees) and the high number of participants in each project (an average of eight). The text field (TXT) of this news item lists the 23 projects which have been selected under the CRAFT programme.