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Exploratory Awards prove successful

Under the Community's Fourth RTD Framework Programme, special measures have been developed to encourage and facilitate the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). One of these measures is the "Exploratory Awards" - financial grants, of up to ECU 45,000 or 7...
Under the Community's Fourth RTD Framework Programme, special measures have been developed to encourage and facilitate the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). One of these measures is the "Exploratory Awards" - financial grants, of up to ECU 45,000 or 75% of total costs, allowing SMEs to prepare a full proposal for a Community research programme.

SMEs can use an "Exploratory Award" to carry out a feasibility study, to undertake market or innovation surveys or to search for partners in order to finally submit a full proposal. The open call for "Exploratory Awards" closed on 26 June 1997 and a first assessment shows the following results:

- In total, 1,258 Awards were selected involving 2,756 SMEs;

- 75% of the participating SMEs are newcomers, meaning that they never previously participated in a Community RTD programme;

- 72% of the enterprises have less than 50 employees, which proves the effectiveness of the Awards in attracting small enterprises;

- About 20% of the participating SMEs come from the more traditional industrial sectors (agro-industry, construction, mining, textile, wood, etc.);

- SMEs from the Cohesion countries (Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal) showed great interest in the Awards, as they represent about 20% of all participants.

A first analysis of the results of evaluation exercises shows that the Exploratory Awards have increased the success rate of SMEs in submitting fully fledged proposals for collaborative or cooperative research. Furthermore, they have allowed a completely new category of SMEs to become involved in Community research.

Source: European Commission, DG XII

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