Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Call promotes innovation and encourages SME participation

The European Commission has launched a call for proposals for indirect Research, Technological Development and Demonstration (RTD) Actions relating to the specific programme "Promotion of innovation and encouragement of SME participation" under its Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) for RTD activities (1998-2002).

The call texts, together with all the documentation necessary to make a proposal, are accessible from:


The objectives, priorities, indicative budgets and types of indirect Actions referred to in the call notice correspond to those described in the work programme drawn up by the European Commission for implementation of the specific programme for the call.

The evaluation cut-off dates vary and are set out at:


The call covers Exploratory Awards and Cooperative Research measures, which are aimed at encouraging and facilitating SME participation in RTD activities. They relate to projects which show great potential as regards innovation and which fall within the overall objectives and priorities of the thematic programmes of FP5. In other words, they do not have to relate specifically to the detailed roadmap of the key actions, generic technologies and research infrastructure. Nevertheless, proposers will have to demonstrate that their project corresponds to the research and development objectives and priorities set by the European Union.

SME-specific measures (that is Exploratory Awards and Cooperative Research) are implemented through the continuous submission scheme of this call.

Under Exploratory Awards, partnerships, comprising at least two SMEs from two different Member States or one Member State and an Associated State, can obtain financial support from the Commission to prepare a project proposal for a co- operative, collaborative, demonstration, combined collaborative and demonstration or innovation project.

The Exploratory Award will allow them to complete the definition of the project proposal undertaking market analysis, novelty verifications, feasibility studies and/or partner searches. For projects relating to biomedical research and when justified, one SME and an end-user from a different eligible state can also apply for an Exploratory Award. The total costs of an Exploratory Award may not exceed 30,000 euro, of which the Commission will finance 75%. The maximum duration of an Exploratory Award is one year. An SME may only receive one Exploratory Award under FP5.

Under Cooperative Research, the projects enable at least three mutually independent SMEs from at least two different Member States or one Member State and an Associated State to jointly seek the resolution of their common technological problems by entrusting them to third legal entities (the "RTD performers"), including industrial entities, with appropriate research or technological validation capacities. In the context of cooperative research projects, which may include technology-transfer activities, work amounting to at least 40% of the total project costs and 50% of the labour time must be carried-out by the RTD performers. They will receive (from the SME consortium) 100% of their costs incurred during the project.

SME contractors able to seek part of the resolution of their technical problems internally may carry out part of the work themselves, up to 60% of the total project costs. The total cost of cooperative research projects will range from 300,000 euro to 2 million euro, of which the Commission will fund 50%. The duration of the project will range from one to two years.

To ensure that all SME contractors benefit from the project, no single SME contractor or affiliated contractors will be able to contribute more than 40% of the total SME contribution. Also, SME contractors from a given country will not be able to cumulate more than 60% of the total SME contribution.

Other organizations located in Member States or Associated States ("sponsors") may be involved in cooperative research projects. However, these other organizations will neither receive Community funding nor have ownership of the IPR resulting from the project.

The costs of coordinating a cooperative research project (for example administrative costs) may be charged as eligible costs under the heading "sub-contracting costs" if it is impossible for any of the SME contractors to act as coordinator. However, this has to be clearly justified.

The intellectual and industrial property rights will belong to the SME contractors. Special emphasis will be put on the validation of the research results inside the SMEs to ensure an effective transfer of knowledge from the RTD sub-contractor to the SMEs. Where necessary, a cooperative research project can be followed by a demonstration phase.

Information on the rules for participation in the Programme and how to prepare and submit proposals is given in the European Commission's Guide for Proposers, which can be obtained, along with the work programme and other information relating to the call, from the address below.

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