The aerospace industry is a huge one with thousands of small suppliers playing an important role in the sector. The EU has looked at ways to strengthen the role and sustainability of SMEs in the aerospace supply chain to ensure a continuously vibrant sector. In this light, the EU-project 'Support for SMEs collaborative aeronautical technical research-integrated projects' (Scratch-IP) sought to support research of 7,000 SMEs in the supply chain. The project audited hundreds of SMEs to help them structure their research strategy and pinpoint integrated project (IP) ideas that could become IP proposals. It assembled a list of projects and identified research needs for SMEs in aerospace to facilitate research, offering them access to research funds. In addition, the project sought to bring together relevant SMEs from EU Member States and Associated States outside the EU to foster joint cooperation on projects. It then submitted several project proposals from SMEs in the aerospace industry for evaluation by the European Commission. Scratch-IP facilitated negotiations between smaller SMEs and large industry to select research themes grouped in IP same areas, in line with the priorities of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) and FP7. Dissemination of the project results was conducted through awareness campaigns, the project's website and other mechanisms. These actions have helped bridge the gap between small and large players, integrating SMEs more solidly into the supply chain and ensuring their long-term success.