Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

To support local, regional and national initiatives designed to stimulate contacts between business managers and encourage cooperation between small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe.


INTERPRISE is a Community action which supports the organization of events aimed at stimulating cooperation between SMEs from regions throughout Europe. INTERPRISE events focus on bringing companies operating in similar sectors, from both the host region and other regions, into contact with each other in a structured manner. This is achieved by considerable preplanning incorporating the selection of firms, their categorization according to profile and the establishment of contacts ahead of the bilateral business meetings which will take place during the event.

The programme covers the whole of the European Union and any combination of regions/countries is possible. Moreover, events may focus on either a particular sector of the economy or a particular topic/theme, such as technology, environment, financing, etc.

Events supported under the INTERPRISE framework generally follow a structured five-step methodology, comprising:

- Stage 1: Identification and selection of companies in the host region(s) interested in setting up a cooperation agreement with companies in one or more of the other participating regions;

- Stage 2: Preparation of a catalogue, two months prior to the event, detailing the various cooperation profiles which have been selected. These profiles describe the firm in question as well as the type of cooperation requested;

- Stage 3: Search for partners for selected firms on the basis of their cooperation profiles;

- Stage 4: A final meeting prior to the event organized to enable participating firms from the host region(s) to establish direct contacts with interested enterprises in the participating regions;

- Stage 5: Assessing of the results of the event both in qualitative terms (number of participants, number of meetings, etc.) and in qualitative terms (number and nature of agreements concluded).


No details are available for this section.


The Commission (DG XXIII Enterprise Policy, Distributive Trades, Tourism) is responsible for implementing the programme.

Proposals for projects under INTERPRISE may be submitted at any time during the year, but must arrive at the Commission at least nine months before the scheduled date of the event. Each proposal must contain the following information:

- A detailed description of the various phases of the project, the sectors covered and the regions concerned;
- A work schedule;
- A declaration by the participating bodies stating that they will take an active part in the project and guaranteeing the participation ofd at least 15 enterprises;
- Information on the bodies concerned and CVs of the persons in charge of the project;
- A budget with income and expenditure clearly indicated.

Events supported under INTERPRISE must include at least three partners from three different Member States of the European Union; additional partners can be added once this minimum requirement has been met and, may include partners from outside the European Union. (For non-Community countries in the Mediterranean region, there is a special initiative, MED-INTERPRISE, which forms part of the MED-INVEST programme). Each partner must submit a CV as well as a detailed description of their experience in the field of business cooperation and their knowledge of the sector or sectors concerned. In exceptional circumstances, an event taking place outside the European Union may receive financial support.

In addition to the above, an INTERPRISE-supported event must display the following characteristics:

- The project must relate to bilateral business meetings which are aimed at setting up partnerships (export promotion projects are excluded from the scheme);
- Priority is given to projects which bring together firms from one, or in some cases two, well-defined sectors of economic activity (examples of economic activities supported include commercial, financial or technical cooperation, joint ventures, the transfer of know-how, etc.);
- Each partner must make a financial contribution to the project either directly, by providing funds, or indirectly, by providing staff. In a letter of intent, each body must state its intention of taking part in the operation, of making a financial commitment and of bringing along at least 15 businesses;
- At least 30% of the total number of participating firms must come from participating regions other than the host region (i.e. firms required to travel to the event);
- The five-step methodology described in the "General Information" section of this event must be followed.

The INTERPRISE programme is financed from the budget allocated to the action programme in favour of SMEs. As a rule, the Commission provides financial support covering up to 50% of the overall costs, providing this does not exceed ECU 50,000. The Commission's financial contribution is paid in three instalments: 30% after the Commission has received the standard signed declaration from the recipient; 50% after the Commission has received an interim report giving details of the progress of the project with an interim statement of expenditure and describing the production of the catalogue of the firms selected; 20% after the final report has been submitted and approved by the Commission.
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