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Boost AUTOmotive SMEs participation IN FP7

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Driving innovation for car parts companies

A manual has been drawn up to assist the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). This category of companies is vitally important for future economic growth and employment in Europe.

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In Europe, the automotive industry is responsible for some 10 million jobs – 1 in 10 European automotive workers lives in the new Member States. The sector has a high number of SMEs as component suppliers for the large internationally-owned car manufacturers. However, due to fundamental changes in the automotive industry, the need for research and development (R&D) investment for these suppliers has increased markedly. The problem is that many of these SMEs, especially those in the new Member States, have no information about EU opportunities to fund research and innovation ideas. The objective of the EU-funded 'Boost automotive SMEs participation in FP7' (AUTO-IN) project was to rectify this situation. It aimed to increase the research and innovation potential among automotive SMEs, mainly from the new Member States and Candidate Countries, by helping them to take advantage of the European research opportunities available. Three workshops, four national seminars and one international event were organised in five countries. More than 300 participants were provided with practical information on how to participate in FP7 and prepare a successful project proposal. Overall, some 60 European organisations, including 30 SMEs, are now involved in FP7 projects mainly thanks to the activities of this project. Most of those SMEs had no previous information about FP7. The fact that they now cooperate to develop their innovation and research projects is one of the main successes of AUTO-IN. Another result has been to stimulate the generation of several novel projects in the field of surface transport. The project also contributed to the competitiveness of the automotive SMEs by helping them to be more innovative.

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