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Contenido archivado el 2024-06-18

EUROpean programme for TRANS-national R&D&I cooperations of BIOtech SMEs

Final Report Summary - ETB-PRO (EUROpean programme for TRANS-national R&D&I cooperations of BIOtech SMEs.)

Executive Summary:
ETB’s mission is to foster the competitiveness of the European biotechnology industry by supporting research intensive SMEs and their strategic partners (large industries, public and private research organizations / universities) with the aim of achieving a thriving European biotechnology industry. In a predecessor project (2004-2008), the ETB consortium has launched three joint calls for collaborative projects of European biotech SMEs. The final goal of ETB-PRO is to launch a sustainable joint program by 2013. Therefore five more joint calls were implemented from 2009 to 2013. Simultaneously, the call processes were optimized and ETB performance enhanced.

Currently, the balance of eight ETB calls amounts to 135 recommended projects with a total project volume of € 233 million, and reflects a success rate (proposals to recommended projects) of 45%. 460 partners (332 SMEs, together with 121 academic partners and 7 large industries) are currently benefiting or have benefited from ETB funding. The project scopes range from health (79%) to agro-food (11%), environment/industrial biotech (9%) and marine biotech (1%). More than 90% of the SMEs commercialize the project results. The major project outcomes of ETB supported projects are products (53%), followed by innovative technologies (27%) and services (10%).

ETB sustainable initiative for funding innovative SME projects started in late 2013 with another call for Projects.
Project Context and Objectives:
The major objective of ETB-PRO is enhancing the cooperation of biotech SMEs, research organizations and the large industry within the ERA, in order to strengthen the European economy, in particular KBBE. In project terms, this is launching calls for applied R&D projects in all sectors of biotechnology (red, green, blue, grey/white) with a focus on SMEs and their strategic partners, who develop innovative products and services and bring them to the market. Another focus is the increase of impact, in terms of enlarging the consortium and thus generating more trans-national cooperations. The final goal of the ERA-NET is to launch a sustainable joint program by 2013.
Project Results:
The main tasks carried out comprised joint programming in its strategic and operative expression, i.e. the transition of single joint calls towards a joint program that will be coordinated by the partners at their own costs. An approach was chosen that allows pursuing both operative (calls) and strategic (program) goals simultaneously: A front office (towards the public) was set up to convey continuity of the initiative and to handle all administrative issues of the calls. Based on the previous experience to organize joint calls, a back office (acting as internal backbone of the consortium) dealt with the program construction and was mostly concerned with implementing improvements and streamlining the call processes. The results of these tasks were formalized and set up in a program document (PD). The latter had two basic functions: (i) to define the future program (content, scope, procedures and processes) and (ii) to steer the implementation of the program (coordination, call office, distribution of tasks). The pilot program, based on this document, was launched with the 6th call (i.e. the 3rd call in ETB-PRO) during the International Biotechnology Symposium in Rimini/Italy in October 2010. This PD represented a major milestone of the project.

Subsequently ETB front office was improved and enhanced. Major developments were (i) the conception of a more user friendly redesign of the web portal, dedicated to the needs of applicants; (ii) the improvement of service functions to applicants (various approaches to assist partnering, advice for management of IPR, tool for consortium check) and (iii) the automatic calculation of project budgets in the application forms. ETB back office functions were enhanced by several novel features, too, such as (iv) the transfer of ETB office to the website administration; (v) the establishment of a joint database for application, evaluation-steps, monitoring and impact assessment, and (vi) the preparation for online operation by the involved partners.
The operative preparations for organizing regular joint calls in an efficient manner were thus for the most part technically completed and tested in the 7th call and successfully operated in the 8th call. The involved tasks were documented in detail, were assessed as to their associated workload, and it was made sure that each step can be handled by different partners, thus preparing for rotating operation by in-kind workforce contribution of the partners. All tasks involving coordination, call operation, preparation and training of new partners, and communication activities were stipulated in a “CallCard”, which steers the implementation of the joint program. Simultaneously, call procedure and processes were further optimized in order to create stable Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and to reduce the workforce and thus additional costs for future operation.

Other results achieved during this phase were related to the finalization of structural and formal aspects for the start of ETB sustainable initiative, i.e. the agreement on the documents describing the future cooperation, management and duties of individual partners. These are the Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] and Terms of Reference [ToR], and a “ETB Process Handbook” in which the SOPs for the operation of calls and call documents are documented and collated. The MoU was signed by 10 Partners (7 original Partners of ETB-PRO and three new Partners) in 2013.

ETB-PRO has made considerable efforts to increase its coverage in terms of program participation of European partners within the ERA. Six partnership models were developed in order to allow for differential organizational involvement in the ERA-NET. No outstanding quantitative effect could be achieved since European program owners and managers were reluctant to involve themselves in too many initiatives. However, five new partners could be integrated for at least one call each, three of them will participate in the ETB sustainable initiative. A lean inclusion process was developed and optimized in practice.

The initiative also interacted with relevant European stakeholders in the broadest sense (EC, policy makers, applicants, other ERA-NETs and CSAs, ETPs, SME Associations and SMEs) where mutual interest could be identified. Among many other outcomes, the consortium contributed considerably to develop the ERA in sharing project foreground on call management and sustainability aspects in various interactions with meta-initiatives (ERA-LEARN, NETWATCH, PLATFORM) and individual ERA-NETs. For finalizing the settings of ETB initiative technically and administratively, ETB has fine-tuned these settings by implementing the recommendations (i) of a peer group representing industry, university and SME associations (ETB Consultation Board) and (ii) of a stakeholder consultation (SMEs). Moreover, a joint call with ERA-IB has been organized in 2013 as a pilot for further such calls.

ETB-PRO first set up a lean information and communication management, but later reflected on this approach. The consortium decisively improved its information and communication management and implemented an adapted communication strategy by mid-term of the project: ETB branded the initiative professionally and developed several standard publications. The ETB website was re-launched and currently is both a business card of the initiative, mostly dedicated to applicants to ETB calls and the general public, and an important information and communication hub for ETB partners, which is accessible in the intranet. Main parts of the ETB office are integrated in the latter. One scientific conference (IBS 2010), three promotional and SME interactive conferences (BioEurope 2011, 2012, 2013), and the stand-alone ETB Launching Conference (2013), in which ETB sustainable initiative was presented to the public, were organized. The latter was dedicated to the dissemination of information on European SME funding opportunities within the ERA and addressed the wider SME community via their representatives (Cluster managers and SME associations). A report of this conference is provided at the ETB website as guidance to SME support, proposal preparation and project management in the light of H2020.

ETB assessed barriers and drivers of SME participation in European collaborative projects. In short, about one half of the SMEs doesn´t have an adequate overview of European R&D&I programs. Those that consider themselves sufficiently informed report preferences for established funding programs, in which ETB plays a representative role. SMEs considered that there are sufficient funding opportunities, but often their capacity for applying for more projects is limited by own resources to co-fund collaborative projects. Considering this outcome and the need to maintain critical mass, the partners defined the ETB mid-term strategy, which basically pursues to run two parallel lines of calls: Regular ETB Calls and “Special Action Calls”, the latter in a joint call with other initiatives of the ERA. This strategy was embarked to increase ETB call impact, to service best SMEs, and to position ETB sustainable initiative in midst of the EC supported ERA-NETs.

Potential Impact:
Currently, the balance of eight ETB calls (including the predecessor project) amounts to 135 recommended projects with a total project volume of € 233 million, and reflects a success rate (proposals to recommended projects) of 45%. 460 partners (332 SMEs, together with 121 academic partners and 7 large industries), are currently benefiting or have benefited from ETB funding. The project scopes range from health (79%) to agro-food (11%), environment/industrial biotech (9%) and marine biotech (1%). Though the aspired increase of call impact did not match the initial assumptions, this balance is positive (cf. Fig. 1). ETB could well optimize necessary additional efforts in the call management, and 10 partners committed themselves to carry on ETB initiative sustainably and with in-kind contributions. Thus the consortium considers the project to have fully reached its main objectives.
ETB (including the predecessor project) has leveraged the EC contribution by a factor 39 of fresh money (total project costs) poured into the ERA for European collaborative projects, or by a factor 46 if ETB-PRO is considered independently. Taking into account any future call to be launched by ETB, these figures will still increase, as no further EC contribution will be deployed, which makes ETB to one of the most efficient networks among the ERA-NETs.

List of Websites:


ETB Coordinator
Dr Christian Listabarth
BMWFJ, Austria

ETB Chair:
Dr Katrien Swerts
IWT, Flanders (BE)

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