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Slovak SMEs enter the EU project arena

European funding has organised training and a website to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Slovak Republic to participate in projects in the Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes.

Climate Change and Environment

At the core of job creation and innovation in Slovakia lies the SME. However, SMEs are confronted by many challenges when trying to start up new projects. Difficult initiatives include making new sub-contracts with large companies, taking on board new organisational concepts for business networks and adopting the necessary systems for fast reaction times to changes in technological and political arenas. To improve sustainability and competitiveness, one solution would be to participate in EU-funded projects. However, the processes of drawing up proposals addressing programme objectives and formulating calls present many difficulties. Appropriately named, the 'Technical assistance to Slovak SMEs in proposal preparation' (Propass) project aimed to rise to this need, in particular for the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The main tool developed by Propass for use by SMEs was a website. In two parts, the public and internal, the web portal served as a collaborative environment for developing project proposals. In addition, Propass organised information days and workshops. The focus centred on cooperation with universities, research institutions and foreign partners. A separate slot however was devoted to project management, also a weakness in the portfolio of many SMEs. Participation in the Propass initiative was impressive. Altogether, out of a total of almost 400 participants, 76 attended workshops and 19 had already started projects. Perhaps even more significant, 30 worthwhile project ideas were collected with the FP7 programme in mind. As SMEs represent the cornerstone of the Slovak Republic's economy and research and development (R&D) activities, Propass results have given a welcome boost to capitalising on untapped potential in the country's technology sector.

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