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Making Progress and Economic Enhancement a Reality for SMEs

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Helping SME research to do better

There are many research, technology development and innovation programmes designed for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support their related activities but their participation in these programmes is less than expected. MAPEER SME was looking for the reasons, for potential ways to recover these obstacles (in the form of recommendations) and for best practices that are worth to implement in other countries too. By adopting the programmes to the SMEs’ needs not only their participation in the RTDI programmes will increase but they will be also able to boost their contribution to the European economy.

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The 'Making progress and economic enhancement a reality for SMEs' (MAPEER SME) project, funded by the EU, supported programme managers of regional-, national- and European-level research, technology development and innovation (RTDI) programmes. In particular, it showed them how to redesign their programmes in order to make them (more) attractive to SMEs. In a first step, 28 national-level analysis reports were completed, analysing the available national- or regional-level programmes for supporting the SMEs' RTDI activities. Reports were also produced on SMEs' needs, the barriers they face and future expectations of RTDI programmes. Based on this work, three clusters of programme types were identified: sector, SME-targeted and open clusters. This analysis, together with that on the SME needs reports, led to a series of recommendations. These three programme clusters not only show a well balanced structure, but also peculiar, distinguishing and clear-cut characteristics. The programmes in the 'SME – targeted' cluster, presenting the highest SME participation (85 %) and success rates (77 %) do not usually have any specific thematic focus. The two other clusters present lower SME participation rates and success rates. The 'open' cluster includes programmes targeted neither by size nor by sector, but mostly concerning innovation networks and clusters among companies and science and technology organisations. Importantly, the project set up a panel of European experts on research by SMEs. The panel is drawn mostly from SMEs and SME stakeholders. This panel contributed to the Eighth Framework Programme (FP8) — now named Horizon 2020 — open consultation, offering conclusions and recommendations to the EU Institutions, including to a representative of SME Global. The latter is the European Parliament's group for raising awareness on SME issues. Further information on the project's work is available on the project website where, via the 'back office', visitors can browse among 200 national- or regional-level RTDI programmes and learn good practices from other countries. Contact information for programme managers in 28 countries is also available. In addition, during the course of the project several workshops and two annual conferences were organised.

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