A report presenting statistics on the overall participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Community's' Fourth Framework Programme for research and technological development has been compiled by DG XII (Science, research and development) of the European Commission. The report provides an overview of SME participation during the first two years of the Programme (1994-1996) and compares this with SME involvement under the Third Framework Programme. The report focuses particularly on the "Technology Stimulation Measures for SMEs" introduced under the Fourth Framework Programme. These special measures, aimed at facilitating the participation of SMEs in European research programmes, include: - Exploratory Awards, providing SMEs with financial support for the preparation of project proposals (search for partners, market and innovation surveys, feasibility studies); - A scheme of Cooperative Research whereby groups of low and medium-tech SMEs facing similar problems or opportunities, but with little or no research capacity of their own, can out-source the required RTD work to a third party (e.g. University or research organization). The introduction of these measures has led to a significant increase in SME participation in Community research programmes. In the first two years of the Fourth Framework Programme, SME participation has reached almost the same level (5,439) as that for the whole of the Third Framework Programme (6,276). SME participation is also more evenly spread across the specific research programmes than it was under the Third Framework Programme. A particularly strong increase in SME participation is seen in the Life Sciences programmes. SMEs are, moreover, increasingly playing a lead role. The report shows that SMEs are ensuring the coordination of 53% of all industry led projects. With regard to the special measures introduced for SMEs, these account for 30% of all SME participations under the Fourth Framework Programme. The success rate for SMEs under the Technology Stimulation Measures is relatively high (about 40%) despite the fact that 75% of these are newcomers. The report prepared by the Commission further shows that the success rate of SMEs participating in Collaborative Research increases from 28% to 41% if they use an Exploratory Award to prepare their project. The Technology Stimulation Measures have had a particularly marked impact on the participation of small enterprises. Sixty percent of SMEs participating in these measures have less than 50 employees (most of these are newcomers). Larger SMEs represent 6% of contractors and tend to belong to more traditional sectors (construction, food, mining, textiles and wood).