The 'European network to support the sustainable surface transport SMEs' (STAR-NET TRANSPORT) project aimed to increase the participation of SMEs in sustainable surface transport (SST) research. This was achieved by providing the support of reliable and permanent partners through the development of a consolidated structure, building on the knowledge developed in earlier projects. SME participation was encouraged through the development of a support network made up of experienced partners from 14 European countries who had previously participated in EU-funded projects. Partners included transport associations, consulting firms, EU National Contact Points (NCPs), industry clusters and universities – all of which were merged into a consolidated framework. Support was available for the whole collaboration process, from searching for partners to writing and submitting proposals. Project partners raised awareness through local and international events as well as organising local workshops, company visits and advice sessions. They also identified SME competencies and ideas through technical audits and by building and disseminating SME profiles. Furthermore, 30 proposals were submitted with the help of the STAR-NET TRANSPORT team. Increased employment among SMEs, greater competitiveness and innovation in the European transport sector, and improved coordination between Member States' transport research programmes were just some of the benefits of project outcomes. In addition, STAR-NET TRANSPORT contributed to EU enlargement and the strengthening of links by including a regional node from Turkey and New Member States (NMS). The success of STAR-NET TRANSPORT will enable SMEs involved in SST research to compete more effectively on the international stage and deliver SST that will benefit both the people of Europe and the environment.