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Measures to promote SMEs participation in the Fourth Framework Programme

The Commission is seeking to promote the participation of SMEs in the Fourth Framework Programme on Research, Technological Development and Demonstration activities (1994-1998).For this purpose, a number of actions have been undertaken. One of these relates to the involvement ...

The Commission is seeking to promote the participation of SMEs in the Fourth Framework Programme on Research, Technological Development and Demonstration activities (1994-1998).For this purpose, a number of actions have been undertaken. One of these relates to the involvement of European industry sectoral federations in preparatory and accompanying actions. For each sectoral exercise, the objectives are to: -Promote awareness about the importance of research and development; - Identify the R&D needs of SMEs within the industrial sector(s) concerned, covering the relevant RTD areas of the programmes listed below; - Identify and foster potential cross-border partnerships for project proposals - centres on R&D needs of SMEs - to be submitted under the Fourth Framework Programme. The specific programmes with measures for SMEs under the Fourth Framework Programme are: - Information technologies; - Telematics applications; - Advanced communications technologies and services; - Industrial and materials technologies; - Standardization, measurements and testing; - Environment and climate; - Marine science and technologies; - Biotechnology; - Biomedicine and health; - Agriculture and fisheries (including agro-industry, food technologies, forestry, aquaculture and rural development); - Non-nuclear energy; - Transport. The types of European RTD partnerships intended as stimulation measure to foster various types of RTD partnerships involving SMEs are: - Collaborative RTD projects between SMEs well equipped to conduct RTD, larger companies, research centres, institutes and universities, seeking to foster cooperation and support new organisational structures between manufacturers, systems and components suppliers; - Cooperative RTD projects enabling groups of SMEs with limited RTD capability - especially those from traditional industrial sectors - to assign other parties to undertake (research centres, universities or other undertakings) the development of technologies adapted to their needs; - SMEs working in thematic networks together with larger companies, research centres, institutes and universities to share and exchange information in the development of industrially relevant technologies likely to create new industries and markets. A working methodology containing a number of common elements between each sectoral activity is important in achieving complementarity and comparability of the deliverables. The working methodology should encompass some or all of the following elements: Phase I: -Preparation of a questionnaire to assess the RTD needs of SMEs within the sector(s) represented by the federation; - Preparation and dissemination of information on the Fourth Framework Programme RTD activities of relevance to the sector. Phase II: - Direct interviews with a representative selection of SMEs to formulate RTD project ideas (expressions of interest) addressing the needs of SMEs identified in Phase I. Phase III: - Dissemination of RTD project ideas (e.g. through publications in federation & trade magazines, information dissemination during federation events, etc.) and assistance to SMEs to set up partnerships/collaborations. The following are the main deliverables: - A report assessing the R&D needs of SMEs within the industrial sector represented by industry federations; - Identification of potential cooperative/collaborative/networking R&D topics of a European dimension, as well as of potential RTD partnerships; - Expressions of interest in, and/or the establishment of, cross-border partnerships for preparing and submitting RTD proposals to be submitted under the Fourth Framework Programme. A coordinator will be appointed by the Commission to: - Liaise with and between federations, follow-up and report progress to the Commission on a monthly basis; - Ensure that the federation reports on main deliverables 1, 2 and 3 are comparable in quality, structure and content; - Produce an overall summary report in collaboration with the industry federations.