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Council adopts specific programme on innovation and small and medium-sized enterprises

The Council of the European Union has decided to promote innovation and to encourage the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (RTD) in a Decision on 25 January 1999 adopting a spe...
The Council of the European Union has decided to promote innovation and to encourage the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (RTD) in a Decision on 25 January 1999 adopting a specific programme for the period up to 31 December 2002.

The amount for carrying out the specific programme is 363 million euro (see details below), with a maximum of 7.35% for the Commission's administrative expenditure.

Article 5 of the Decision requires the Commission to draw up a work programme, which includes the objectives and RTD priorities, as follows.

The aim is to coordinate and support the efforts under the thematic programmes to promote and integrate the "innovation" and "SMEs" dimensions when setting their priorities, establishing their work programmes, and carrying out their activities; to ensure the overall consistency of activities relating to innovation and SMEs and their harmonisation within the thematic programmes; and to ensure the optimum use of skills, experience and infrastructure (including innovation relay centres (IRCs) and CRAFT contact points) existing at the horizontal level or in other programmes.

In order to achieve the strategic objective of the programme, the bulk of the work will be carried out within the thematic programmes of the Fifth Framework Programme under the impulse of the innovation units so as to take account of the specific features of the research topics and ensure the best possible match between the exploitation of results and their application context.

Firstly, this programme will ensure synergy between the innovation units, and will interact with the thematic programmes in respect of the definition and implementation of their specific tasks, which should include:

- Providing support for activities carried out with regard to innovation, such as the follow-up of technology transfer and the launch of projects with a demonstration effect;
- Exploiting the thematic networks, activities and mechanisms stimulating the utilisation and transfer of results or the creation of innovative firms, e.g. by facilitating access to private funding;
- Organising studies to evaluate projects and their results with a view to promoting their exploitation, in particular through a technology implementation plan;
- Providing monitoring and evaluation data on technology transfer and other innovation activities within the thematic programmes.

Secondly, this programme will contribute, together with the thematic programmes, to defining the methods and mechanisms contributing towards an increase in the exploitation of the results of the research projects under these programmes and ensuring the coherence and effectiveness of the dissemination of information on the research and development projects and results via the horizontal network and service infrastructures (CORDIS, IRCs).

The strategic objective of the programme entails the coordination of support for SME participation in RTD and demonstration activities carried out in the framework of the thematic programmes:

- Cooperative research schemes enabling at least three mutually independent SMEs from at least two different Member States to jointly seek the resolution of their common technological problems internally or by entrusting it to third legal entities, including industrial entities, with appropriate research or technological validation capacities;
- Schemes to support and encourage SME participation in collaborative and cooperative research projects (for example on the basis of subsidies for the preparatory phase known as "exploratory awards"), respecting SMEs' need for a flexible and easily accessible support system;
- Provision of monitoring and evaluation data on the operation of SME measures within the thematic programmes.

These schemes aimed at encouraging and facilitating SME participation in RTD activities relate to all the objectives and priorities of the specific programmes in their entirety.

In addition, this programme will provide support for organising and improving the dissemination and exploitation of results within the thematic programmes, in order, among other things, to facilitate SME participation in validation and demonstration projects in the context of the key actions.

Details of the amount of 363m euro for the specific programme "Promotion of Innovation, Encouragement of SME Participation":

- Promotion of Innovation 119m;
- Encouraging SME participation 44m;
- Joint Innovation/SME activities 200m.

Source: Council of the European Union, Research Secretariat

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