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Slovakia raises the bar on EU project participation

A drive to get Slovakian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in EU projects has brought the young EU nation closer to the European Research Area (ERA) and pan-European vision of a knowledge-based economy.

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Slovakia boasts solid traditions in science and technology (S&T), as well as strong educational and industrial potential that could contribute significantly to Europe's knowledge economy. However, its participation in EU-funded projects under the EU's Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) was relatively low, prompting a need to help the country join more projects under subsequent programmes. The EU-funded project 'The support for participation of Slovak institutions in FP6' (Slovak FP6) achieved the objective of increasing the country's participation in European programmes. The project reinforced Slovakia's opportunities to participate in EU projects by creating databases of key persons and organisations, as well as helping SMEs draft project proposals. It also prepared guidelines in Slovak for project participation and established a platform for researchers to conduct partner searches abroad. Project members hailed from academia, research institutions, local authorities and industry, bringing a wealth of knowledge for SMEs to exploit in order to join EU-funded projects. Of particular success was the first-ever Slovak guide on 'How to obtain a project in FP6', as well as a digital database titled 'Partner search in Slovakia'. Two national conferences and three global ones also helped establish a robust forum for participants in these projects. While the project was generally conceived to assist SMEs in joining projects under the FP6, many of the project's initiatives were extended to the FP7. This created a positive spill-over effect and fostered an unprecedented culture of participation in EU-funded projects for the country.

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