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Promoting participation of high-tech research-intensive SMEs in Health

Final Report Summary - FIT FOR HEALTH (Promoting participation of high-tech research-intensive SMEs in Health)

Executive Summary:
Fit for Health aimed to sustainably enhance the participation of European small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Calls for the FP7 Health Theme. Focusing on research-intensive, high technology SMEs the project offered targeted support measures, covering the entire innovation pipeline of the Health sector. Key assets of Fit for Health were highly qualified consultancy, hands-on trainings, effective SME-academia matchmaking and guidance to strategic use of FP7 by SMEs and clusters.
SMEs and researchers have been supported during all phases of FP7-Health-projects, including consortium building, proposal writing, grant negotiation, project management and efficient valorisation of project results.
Cooperation between SMEs and academia was strongly encouraged by dedicated services and tools: A well-established, highly visible database and a sophisticated matchmaking-tool, already proven in preceding initiatives, supported the formation of competitive project consortia. The collection of expertise profiles from more than 1.200 SMEs and 2.000 academia ensured an international and quality proven pool that perfectly served as platform for presenting the outstanding expertise to the scientific community and assisted in finding appropriate project partners for collaborative projects.
2 Partnering Days for supporting SMEs in researchers in finding suitable project partners for their FP7-Health-projects targeted up to 500 participants that exchanged their ideas in more than 800 bilateral meetings. 2 Virtual Brokerage Events accompanying those on-site events, almost 700 groups of interest could be identified an 23 partner searches launched in the upfront of the opening of the respective Health Calls. Those complementing activities provided excellent interaction platforms for SMEs and academia.
Special focus was given to a modular set of trainings: 12 target group-specific on-site and 7 virtual trainings for FP7 Newcomers, Applicants and participants of funded FP7 projects were a hallmark of the project. Moreover, 3 trainings focussed on the exploitation of project results together with specific exploitation Partnering Events encouraged SMEs and researchers in bringing their obtained research results to the market. One of those partnering events was organised as a joint FP7-exploitation brokerage. In total, more than 270 SMEs and academia attended those specific partnerings and requested for almost 840 bilateral meetings.
Strategy meetings targeting 89 companies on an individual basis and 2 strategy trainings supported SMEs and clusters for a strategic, sustainable approach towards FP7.
Particular attention was given to SMEs in enlarged Europe, Acceding and Candidate countries with the organisation of 25 SME-Fora, reaching more than 650 participants, thus ensuring that via those interactive communication platforms the still existing low participation rate of SMEs in new member states and acceding candidate countries can be reduced.
In total, 949 SMEs and researchers were trained in 14 on-site trainings and 764 SMEs and academia supported via 4 Partnering Days.
The consortium of 26 partners from 22 countries joined highly experienced FP7 NCPs for “Health” and “SMEs” with renowned innovation experts and trainers, ensuring excellent coverage of the entire innovation pipeline. Strategic Third Parties contributed the perspective of Venture Capital and Bank Financing.
The efficiently managed network was also optimally connected to other key support networks for SMEs like the Health-NCP-Net, the IPR-Helpdesk and the related support measures Health-2-Market, ENTENTE.
Project Context and Objectives:
The overall objective of Fit for Health aimed to sustainably enhance the participation of European small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Calls for the Health Theme of the 7th EU Framework Programme (FP7).

Key objectives of Fit for Health focused on:
• An enhanced SME-academia cooperation by offering a common learning platform via innovative training schemes and perfect machting for SMEs and academia
• Strategic meetings and trainings for SMEs and clusters
• Cooperation with key networks

Focusing on research-intensive, high technology SMEs, Fit for Health offered targeted support measures that covered the entire innovation pipeline of the Health sector. The project supported SMEs and researchers during all phases of FP7-projects, from the project idea to the efficient and effective valorization of project results. Importantly, the project strongly encouraged cooperation between SMEs and academia, connecting the two different “cultures”. By dedicated tools and meeting platforms, Fit for Health facilitated the use of a “common language” by SMEs and academia, fostering successful cooperation.
Fit for Health pursued a timely, systemic approach to help European high-tech, research-intensive SMEs free of charge in not only making optimal use of the funding and networking opportunities offered by FP7, but also using it as opportunity towards enforced strategic development. Thereby the project will support a competitive advantage of these SMEs on the European and global market.

Highly qualified assistance to SMEs and academia
Fit for Health actively supported SMEs and academia during all phases of their involvement in FP7. The project could rely on a well-rehearsed, highly experienced network of innovation experts and trainers that covers 22 countries and includes 16 FP7 NCPs for the Health Theme and for “SME measures” (“Health” and “SME”-NCPs). The NCPs within the consortium included the most experienced experts in Europe. Personalized, high quality day-to-day support and consultancy were essential to the project, especially in order to encourage high-technology, research intensive SMEs to participate in FP7 that may initially be reluctant to do so due to fears of “red tape”. Virtual trainings efficiently complemented face-to-face and phone consultations, helping SMEs to save time and travel costs.

Encouraging cooperation between SMEs and Academia
In order to increase the participation of SMEs in the EU Framework Programme, it is essential to generally enhance research cooperation between SMEs and academia in Europe. Strengthening collaboration between the different “cultures” of SMEs and academia is of central importance for achieving the Lisbon objectives, and a hallmark of FP7 projects. This objective is therefore key to all activities of Fit for Health, ranging from awareness raising to day-to-day assistance, innovative training schemes, matchmaking, partnering days, support in project results valorisation and SME strategy development.
An important feature of Fit for Health is a well-established, user-friendly and quality-checked database, containing around 1,200 SME- and 2,000 researcher profiles. Fit for Health took also profit from a sophisticated on-line matchmaking facility for project consortia in the Health Theme. In addition, useful collaborative workspaces for special interest groups of SMEs and academia in communicating and setting up project proposals have been offered.

Improving the quality of proposals submitted to the Health Theme
While it is important to increase overall participation of SMEs in proposals submitted to the Health Theme, it is also very important to increase the success rate of SMEs participation in FP7-proposals, thereby raising the share of EC funding allocated to SME partners. Due to the highly competitive nature of the Framework Programme, it is essential to help FP7 applicants in improving the quality of their proposals.
This objective was pursued on several: By day-to-day assistance and advice via personal contact, on-line helpdesk and on-line assisted consultations; by hands-on trainings on Proposal Writing for applicants (including specific virtual trainings), by concise information and “tips” on the Fit for Health website, and by an instructive “FP7 step-by-step” guide complemented with practical case studies. Moreover, SMEs and researchers were supported in building optimal project consortia with the help of the well-established Fit for Health matchmaking database and dedicated Partnering Events.

Innovative FP7 trainings for SMEs and academia
The strongly increasing demand for high quality, hands-on trainings on all aspects of FP7 was tackled by the establishment of a modular set of trainings, offering a target-group-specific, highly visible Fit for Health training scheme. It covered all aspects of FP7 projects, starting with the project idea, proceed to proposal writing, grant negotiation and management, and also specifically address the valorization of project results
Fit for Health targeted “FP7 newcomers”, FP7 Health-proposers and FP7 Health-project participants with carefully designed trainings rich in practical exercises. Two specific types of trainings covered the exploitation of FP7 results and strategy development for SMEs and clusters To maximize the number of participants reached as well as the impact of the trainings, virtual trainings on key issues of interest complement the on-site trainings.

Generating Value: Making the most of FP7 project results
Converting new knowledge into new products and services is an acknowledged bottleneck in the European economy. Specific valorization trainings highlighted different exploitation routes and best practices. Experts from key innovation actors and facilitators e.g. the Enterprise Europe Network, IPR-Help Desk and Venture Capital Organisations and Banks provided hands-on and tailor-made information.
Valorisation partnering events, carried out together with the Enterprise Europe Network, joined participants of FP6/FP7 projects seeking to exploit their results with the clientele of the Enterprise Europe Network interested in commercializing these results.

Supporting SMEs in enlarged Europe, acceding and candidate countries
Fit for Health put a strong emphasis on high leverage support for SMEs in New Member States (NMS) and Acceding and Candidate Countries (ACC). Next to newcomer trainings that were carried out exclusively in NMS or ACC, dedicated SME fora, addressing SMEs and SME-associations operating in the “Health” area, were established in 6 NMS and ACC. Those fora raised awareness and provided practical information on the opportunities offered by FP7 to their SME communities, and offered a highly visible discussion and networking platform.

Supporting European SMEs, SME-associations and clusters in “getting strategic” about FP7
This objective addressed a crucial challenge to “full” SME participation in FP7, namely the problem that many European SMEs lack a mid- and long-term strategy steering their R&D activities. This is of immediate relevance for any approach to enhance the participation of SMEs in FP7, as FP7 itself is a strategic programme with mid- and long-term objectives.
In recognition of this, Fit for Health established the instrument of “strategy meetings” with high-tech, research intensive SMEs. The visited organisations were characterized by a high potential for successful participation in FP7 due to their excellent expertise, but were either not yet aware of the opportunities offered by FP7, or had for several reasons not or hardly been successful in FP7 so far. The objective of “strategy meetings” was to provide these organisations with tailor-made information on how specific funding instruments of FP7 can help them to develop and/or implement their mid- and long-term R&D strategies.
Because of a limited number of SMEs, SME-associations and clusters that directly could be addressed by on-site strategy meetings Fit for Health also carried out 2 transnational SME Strategy Trainings. These out the emphasis on how to set up or adapt mid- and long-term R&D-strategies and demonstrated how SMEs and clusters could take optimal advantage of the “surrounding” national and international funding landscape in supporting their strategies. Finally, a SME Strategy Conference with focus on the new Framework Programme Horizon 2020 offered recommendations and best practices for strategy development of European SMEs.
Project Results:
Fit for Health was initiated to sustainably enhance the participation of European small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Calls of the FP7 Health Theme. Focusing on research-intensive, high technology SMEs, the project offered targeted support measures, covering the entire innovation pipeline of the Health sector. Key assets of Fit for Health were highly qualified consultancy, hands-on trainings, effective SME-academia matchmaking and guidance to strategic use of FP7 by SMEs and clusters. SMEs and researchers were supported during all phases of FP7-projects, including consortium building, proposal writing, grant negotiation, project management and efficient valorisation of project results.

Assisting SMEs and researchers by providing orientation and practical information on FP7
In particular, a concerted set of assistance measures were offered to “Health”-SMEs and researchers. 5 so called “FP7-step-by-step” guides were developed. They comprised case studies. The individual guides focused on FP7 in general, financial aspects in FP7, evaluation & grant negotiation, management of FP7 projects and IPR & valorisation of project results. In addition, 4 supplements for alternative funding opportunities for SMEs in Health research, for FP7 simplification measures, for the participant portal and for Horizon 2020 have been developed. Those guides were distributed at the occasion of bilateral consultations and served as demonstration material at our trainings and partnering events to over 2,800 clients.
“SME fora” provided targeted support and a networking platform to SMEs in 6 New Member States and Acceding or Candidate Countries. In total, 25 SME Fora with more than 650 participants have been organised. Those platforms helped to contribute to the reduction of still existing barriers for SMEs in those countries to actively participate in Framework Programme projects.

Training SMEs and academia
In total, 5 different on-site trainings have been set up with 40 different presentations including exercises for all phases of research projects, starting from first ideas until the exploitation of research results. 949 SMEs and researchers were trained in 14 on-site trainings and 450 SMEs and researchers were trained via webinars.

For the phases of first orientation till preparation of applications and the following project management 3 different trainings were set up:
FP7 newcomer trainings provided SMEs and researchers with concise and comprehensive information on the opportunities and rules of FP7. For newcomers to FP7, 3 trainings were organised in Budapest (Hungary), Zagreb (Croatia) and Bucharest (Romania), reaching a total number of more than 300 participants.
The applicant trainings optimally prepared SMEs and academia for a successful proposal submission to Calls of the FP7 Health Theme (either as coordinators or project partners) with specific, hands-on exercises on how to prepare competitive proposals. 3 trainings for applicants were held in Athens (Greece), Rome (Italy) and Madrid (Spain) with a total number of almost 170 participants.
Moreover, training of SMEs and academia for the successful implementation of projects funded by the Health Theme, including relevant information on IPR issues was conducted in the training for grant negotiation and project management. 3 trainings for grant negotiation and project management were organised in cooperation with the information days for new coordinators of the respective Health Call organised by the EC in Brussels, Belgium, with a total number of almost 400 participants attending those trainings.
7 virtual trainings were organised and completed the information provided at the occasion of applicant and negotiation trainings. The content for those webinars comprised details for grant negotiations, financial management & reporting, business plans and clinical trials, ethical issues and audits. In addition, open questions that came up during the on-site trainings before the webinars took place were considered. In total, about 450 SMEs and researchers were trained via those webinars.

Strategy Development of high-tech SMEs and clusters
Strategy Development for high-tech SMEs & Clusters pursued a high leverage approach to sustainably enhance SME participation in FP7. On-site Strategy Meetings with selected European SMEs and Clusters were carried out. Transnational SME Strategy Trainings and a SME strategy conference broadly supported a strategic approach of SMEs and clusters towards FP7 and Horizon 2020.
In total, 89 SMEs received special advice in onsite strategy meetings by Fit for Health partners. 50 bilateral meetings, one meeting with a cluster (22 SMEs) and 2 joint meetings (17 SMEs) took place.
2 strategy trainings were organised with 42 participants in Stockholm, Sweden and with 30 participants in Brussels, Belgium, reaching a total number of 72 trained SMEs.
The strategy conference “Creating New Business Opportunities for SMEs in the Life Sciences Area” was held with 120 participants in Brussels, Belgium right after the 2nd strategy training.

Enhancing cooperation of SMEs and academia
Cooperation between SMEs and academia has strongly been encouraged by dedicated services and tools. A well-established, sophisticated, well-tested database and matchmaking tool for FP7 consortium building in the Health Theme, including free collaborative working spaces for SMEs and researchers – already proven in preceding initiatives – supported the formation of competitive project consortia. FP7 Partnering Days and Virtual Brokerage Events provided excellent interaction platforms for SMEs and academia for matching FP7-Health Coordinators with potential cooperation partners.
The Fit for Health database comprises expertise profiles of more than 1,200 SMEs and 1,700 academic research teams. More than 8,500 individuals are registered with their contacts.
159 partner searches were published in the database (outdated partner searches were continuously removed). A database-user guide has been developed for all registered users.
8 coordinators used the online collaborative work spaces. The opportunities and functions of the workspaces were described in a user manual.
2 Virtual Brokerage Events (VBEs) were carried out in close vicinity to the opening of Calls for the Health Theme. During these events, 696 “virtual groups of interest” have been generated from the database by clustering SMEs and researchers according to their interest in individual topics of the relevant “Health”-Call and 23 partner searches were launched during those VBEs.
Following the Virtual Brokerage Events, 3 Partnering Events for SMEs and academia have been arranged (one for each FP7 Health Call): 2 of those FP7 partnering events were organised in Brussels and were connected to the Open Info Days from the EC, whereas 1 partnering event was jointly organised with a valorization partnering. In total, 492 participants attended those 2 partnering events and 809 bilateral meetings took place.

Exploiting project results – specialised trainings and partnering events
A practical and multi-level support was offered to SMEs and researchers for the exploitation of results gained from FP7 and FP6 projects in the areas of Health and Life Sciences. Transnational valorisation trainings were carried out together with key actors in innovation funding, e.g. the EEN, IPR helpdesk, Joint Venture Capitalist Associations and bank representatives. Dedicated valorisation partnering events were organised.
The 3 valorisation trainings in Hannover, Germany, Paris, France and Vienna, Austria were organised with a total number of more than 130 participants.
The 2 valorization partnering events in Hannover and Basel addressed 272 participants, almost 500 cooperation profiles were offered and 836 bilateral meetings requested.

Promotion and networking
Networking and promotion activities of Fit for Health comprised the development of a user-friendly, attractive website with access to a helpdesk including a FAQ section, partner search database and matchmaking tool, as well as a calendar of trainings and partnering events. Promotion activities included quarterly electronic newsletters, press releases, success stories as well as videos featuring SMEs who have generated exploitable results out of their FP7 Health projects.
The Fit for Health website has been designed, including a helpdesk and FAQ section, with detailed advice for SMEs already throughout the first reporting period. As promotion material, a project leaflet, a poster and a roll-up have been prepared.
In total, 12 electronic newsletters were disseminated to customers in nearly 100 different countries.
11 international press releases were published.
Close cooperation with related initiatives was initiated and enlarged during the lifetime of the project. The following related projects and initiatives were collaborators:
 - Health-NCP-Net
 - TransCoSME (Network of SME-NCPs)
 - BIO-NCPS
 - Enterprise Europe Network
 - KAPPA Health
 - SM-BIO-Power
 - Health Competence
 - IPR-Helpdesk
 - EECA link
 - Health-2-Market
 - ENTENTE

The cooperation included common organisation of events like the FP7 partnering events or the valorization partnerings and valorisation training.
An action plan for common strategies of various initiatives to support the valorisation of project results has been prepared as well as a communication plan for common strategies of Fit for Health, ENTENTE and Health-2-market.
Successful SME-academia collaboration in FP7 Health projects were monitored by Fit for Health partners and promoted in attractive Fit for Health “success stories”. Dissemination of these model examples occurred via the Fit for Health website, in the electronic newsletters and during events and trainings. This allowed us to presenting them to a broad audience.
Moreover, short videos featuring SMEs that successfully participate in FP7-Health projects with outstanding performances leading to exploitable results have been generated. These experience reports were displayed on the Fit for Health website, offering those selected SMEs excellent promotion for their research, to be launched for the market.
In total, 14 success stories and 3 videos have been produced.

Managing the Fit for Health network
The establishment and implementation of an efficient management structure ensured smooth management and coordination of the project in order to timely fulfil project objectives and contractual obligations of Fit for Health.
8 network meetings (including the Kick Off and the final meeting) were held and meeting minutes prepared.
An essential part of the success of this project was the efficient monitoring of quality and the assessment of the impact. Therefore, a quality assurance and impact assessment plan has been prepared, defining quality criteria as well as quantitative and qualitative impact indicators for key activities of the project.

Conclusions and final remarks
Is Fit for Health a success story?
Considering the minimum performance objectives defined in the description of work the obtained results from the various activities can be assessed as very successful.
Almost all objectives could be reached and many of them surpassed!
The minimum performance objectives were defined as follows:
o Training meetings (14), partnering events (5) and strategy meetings (50) must involve at least 1.500 participants ->
o Virtual meetings (7) have to involve at least 500 participants -> 450 attended the webinars
o SME fora (24) directed to NMS and ACC have to involve at least 500 SMEs -> 650 participants addressed
o The Fit for Health database should present 1.200 companies -> 1,200 companies

The following numbers impressively show that the project substantially contributed to the support of SMEs and researchers operating in the Health-related sector in FP7:

 - 9 different FP7 step-by-step guides have been distributed to 2,800 clients
 - More than 650 participants could be addressed in 25 SME Fora
 - 949 SMEs and researchers were trained in 14 on-site trainings and 450 via webinars
 - 89 SMEs received special advice in onsite strategy meetings
 - More than 760 persons participated at our on-site partnering days
 - Almost 700 “groups of interest” were generated at our Virtual Brokerage Events
 - More than 1,200 SMEs and 1,700 acadmia published in the Fit for Health database
 - More than 8,500 individuals registered in the Fit for Health database
 - 159 partner searches were published in the database
 - 8 coordinators used the online collaborative work spaces
 - 12 electronic newsletters were disseminated to customers in nearly 100 different countries
 - 11 international press releases were published
 - 14 success stories and 3 videos have been produced
 - 120 participants at the strategy conference for Horizon 2020

Potential Impact:
A detailed report about the impact assessment of Fit for Health activities has been described in detail in the deliverable report Deliverable 7.2 (Annual reports to EC including 2 impact assessment and quality assurance reports). The main aspects are summarized hereunder:
For assessing the quantitative impact of the project, we deceided to address activities that allow a quantitative measurement and in addition that differ in various terms like the target group addressed with this particular activity and the objectives addressed.
Whereas on the one hand SME-Fora have been designed to support newcomers to the Framework Programmes with totally different needs and interests, strategy meetings on the other hand were conducted with highly experienced companies. In assessing both instruments we could demonstrate how we supported in our Fit for Health project a very diverse community in a tailor-made way.
The partnering activities comprise teh whole innovation cycle, starting with the search for a suitable partner to submit a proposal until the point to exploit the obtained research results on the market with strategy partners or investors needed for this step. Based on those requirements, various activitities hve been offered to our customers.
The following parameters have been assessed:
SME-Fora:
• Number of participants in general and out of those
• How many SMEs participated in SME-Fora (how many participants attended the Fora in total)?
• Do participants use our Fit for Health database?
• Are they registered as contact?
• Did they publish an expertise profile?
• Did they use the partner search service?
• Do participants of SME-Fora attend some of the Fit for Health trainings, like e.g. the newcomer trainings?
• How many participants submitted a (funded) proposal?


Strategy Meetings:
• Number of participants in general
• How many participants of the Fit for Health strategy meetings could improve their portfolio in terms of
o Internal awareness, in getting a new vision and extending the knowledge inside the company
o Participation, in joining networks and initiating new contacts
o Results, in joining consortia and submitting proposals

Partner Searches:
• Results obtained from
o FP7 Partnering Events
o Exploitation Partnering Events
o Bilateral support from the Fit for Health partners in finding project partners

Regarding
• Finding project partners,
• Starting collaborations
• Submission of (successful) proposals

SME Fora
The following data are assessed:
• How many SMEs participated in SME-Fora (how many participants attended the Fora in total)?
• Do participants use our Fit for Health database?
• Are they registered as contact?
• Did they publish an expertise profile?
• Did they use the partner search service?
• Do participants of SME-Fora attend some of the Fit for Health trainings, like e.g. the newcomer trainings?
• How many participants submitted a (funded) proposal?
The number of Fit for Health leaflets distributed and the list of topics covered in the particular meetings are described in the deliverable report, D 1.3.
For collecting those data for the assessment, guidelines were prepared by the task leader, partner no.20 and provided to the respective Fit for Health partners (see Annex I).

Results
Organisation of SME-Fora - number of participants:
In total, 25 SME-Fora have been organised by the 6 project partners being involved in this task (24 originally planned in the technical annex). Considering the total amount of participations, out of the 648 participants, 255 were representing SMEs (39%).
The analysis showed that in some countries a smaller group of participants were attracted to join those platforms, but most of them were SMEs (e.g. in Turkey, almost all participants were SME-representatives).
In contrast, in some countries the interest to get information within the frame of the SME-Fora was much higher but the proportion of SMEs was much lower (e.g. in Bulgaria only 12% of the participants were SME-representatives).

Use of the Fit for Health database – registration of contacts, expertise profiles and partner searches:
At the occasion of the individual SME-Fora, the Fit for Health project partners organising those information meetings pointed out the importance of increasing the visibility of SMEs to the scientific community, to get next to the SME-Fora further information that is provided within Fit for Health and to register in the Fit for Health database. Participants were encouraged to at least register as a “contact” but were animated to put an expertise profile online. In addition, they were informed about the possibility to look for potential project partners with a partner search.
Assessing those data it turned out that in total 26 participants did register in the Fit for Health database and 23 put an expertise profile online. Though those numbers are small in comparison to the overall participation in the SME-Fora they should be considered as a first initiation step in those countries and as a continuous process. As the Fit for Health partners remain connected to their community even after the organisation of the last SME-Fora organised they will continue to encourage the SMEs in using the services and in trying to improve their chances to being identified as potential project partners in upcoming EU-funded projects.
Only 8 participants used the partner search facility of the project, reflecting the overall impression that the initiation of using the services of Fit for Health are still in a very early development stage in the countries.
Participation in FP7-Health-projects – submission of proposals:
Within the frame of the SME-Fora, participants were also informed about the current open Health Calls and received information about topics they might have been interested in. The assessment showed that 25 of them did participate in FP7-Health projects and submitted a proposal and 12 have been successfully funded. The projects considered in this assessment were submitted in FP7-Health and KBBE-Calls. The assessment revealed that one of the funded projects was submitted by a Croatian Coordinator who was the first successful coordinator in a FP7-Health-project.
Number of proposals submitted and number of proposals funded:
In total, 12 proposals have been funded (25 submitted).
Further use of services offered in Fit for Health – participation in trainings:
The participants of the SME-Fora were also encouraged to use other services that are offered in Fit for Health, like attending trainings that could be considered as a next step in getting advice for a successful participation in FP7. In particular, the focus was put on newcomer trainings that address those who lack experience in the Framework Programmes. Consequently, all newcomer trainings were organised in New Member states or acceding candidate countries like Hungary, Croatia and Romania, thus ensuring to address the right target group for such a training scheme.
Whereas the first newcomer training was organised soon after the project start and therefore before the establishment of the SME-Fora structure, the second training for FP7 newcomers took place in the mid-term period of the Fit for Health project. Moreover, it was organised in Croatia, a country that did in addition establish the SME-Fora structure. Not surprisingly, almost all participants that were recruited from the SME-Fora platforms were from Croatia and just one came from Romania.
The third newcomer training was organised in Romania close to the end of the project, putting the focus already on Horizon 2020, the upcoming new Framework Programme starting in beginning of 2014. Special focus on the promotion for this training was addressed to all countries that organized SME-For a, emphasizing this additional benefit from such a training.
Finally, 75 participants came from countries that organized SME-Fora, with 73 from Romania and one from Hungary and Turkey, respectively. Out of those who registered for the training, 16 were from SME-Fora-organizing countries (14 from Romania and 2 from Bulgaria) and finally, 10 registrants who previously attended the SME-Fora in Romania were finally participating in the training.
Summary
To summarize those results the overall numbers show that a very high demand and interest is given in the new member states and acceding candidate countries for such a frame and the project partners involved are planning to continue this instrument further on within their community. Almost 650 participants used this new format of interaction, exceeding the expected number of 500 participants. Thus, the establishment of the SME-Fora finally resulted in a sustainable networking and information platform.
Though the basic interest in getting access to such a platform has to be considered as very high in the 6 countries, the continuous exchange needs to be maintained and encouragement to further use the services is required. In particular the registration in the Fit for Health database with expertise profiles should be increased and the participation in trainings not taking place in the same country should be promoted and forced. This would consequently facilitate the access to consortia looking for suitable SMEs for their proposals to be submitted and increase the chance of higher participation rates in those countries. Furthermore, services like trainings for starts in Horizon 2020 that will be offered in the follow-up project “Fit for Health 2.0” should be promoted as additional opportunity to increase the knowledge on the possibilities offered by the Framework Programs for SMEs. Thus, close cooperation between the project “Fit for Health 2.0” and representatives in the particular countries who are not belonging to this consortium will be continued.

Strategy Meetings
Introduction
During the first 2 years of the project, a total number of 89 SMEs has been visited (50 SMEs have been visited in onsite-strategy meetings by the particular project partners. In addition, partner No.5 Eurotop, visited a cluster, having a meeting with 22 SMEs; partner No.15 SEZ, organised two joint meetings of target SMEs, leading to a total number of 17 SMEs that have been advised).
Strategy meetings were firstly assessed immediately after the meetings took place and those results out of the meetings reports are summarized in the respective deliverable report D3.1.

To assess the impact of our strategy meetings the following procedure has been established:

Contacting the company:

Fit for Health project partners were contacting the companies they have visited by phone call. Based on a short guidance template (see below) they were shortly discussing some main elements to estimate the effect of the strategy meeting for the company.

Assessing by scoring:

To allow us some “measurement” of the assessment, a scoring procedure was used. For the details, please see the respective deliverable report 7.2.
Feedback from the companies
Assessing individual bilateral meetings
In total, 32 replies could be obtained from the 50 strategy meetings conducted on an individual bilateral basis (64%). At least for some of the companies, no feedback could be obtained because of changes of responsibilities within the particular companies or because of the leaving of those persons who were the main contact points during the meetings and accompanied discussions. However, the response rates are in line with those from surveys in general.
Raising of internal awareness
Though the overall success of such targeted meetings could be influenced by various parameters, the ambition of the individual company to start a process of internal development for getting a new and sustainable strategy could be considered as a basis for the overall procedure. The scores that have been collected in the interviews for this category were given by the companies themselves, as the Fit for Health partners not necessarily do gain insight into the internal steps within the companies.
14 companies were assessed to have a high raising internal awareness whereas 12 were evaluated as medium (37.5%) and 6 did not really take any benefit from this scheme (18.75 %). Those figures show that basically the intention to initiate a process internally was made.
Participation
The question if the companies used the support offered to increase their international visibility and took first steps to increase their networks provided the following results: whereas 18 of the companies took a maximum out of the services offered (56.3%), 11 used this to a lesser extent (34.4 %). Only 3 of the companies assessed did not take any benefit out of this support. This clearly indicates that almost all companies started to create new contacts and to increase their visibility by joining networks.
Results
For estimating the overall success the different stages of experiences between the various companies need to be taken into consideration. Not all companies could be evaluated with the same criteria, as their individual development during the support process should be considered.
For some companies with minor experience in the FPs, first steps like getting into a consortium should be considered as a very successful way on their long lasting strategy development. Other companies who did already participate in FP-projects the successful application in a Health Call or related Call would have been considered as success.
Whereas 12 companies were counted with less success (low, 37.5 %), 11 took more benefit out of the support by the strategy meetings (medium), and 10 were considered as highly successful (31.25 %). This shows that no clear tendency could be seen for any of the categories.
Assessing the strategy meetings with clusters / joint meetings
As announced partner No.5 Eurotop, visited a cluster, organizing a meeting with 22 SMEs and partner No.15 SEZ, organized two joint meetings of target SMEs (a total number of 17 SMEs that have been advised). As the procedure of a follow up could not be used as such for those joint meetings, a different approach has been used to assess the long term outcome of those advisory meetings.
For partner No.5 Eurotop, the meeting has been organized together with the manager of the BioWin cluster and the NCP –Wallonia representative, advising Walloon SMEs. Whereas partner No.5 took over the role to give advice to the 2 co-organizers in helping them to support the SMEs strategically, the NCP Wallonia followed-up individual SMEs and researchers that attended the meeting to help them prepare applications individually. Therefore the role of partner No.5 should be considered more as train-the-trainer than as s personal advisor to SMEs as such.
For partner No. 15, SEZ, 2 joint meetings have been organized.
For the first meeting 15 organizations were participating (8 research organizations and 7 industry-related ones). They have already been involved in the running EU-funded FP7-project Vascubone (http://www.vascubone.fraunhofer.eu/). Thus, the advice was related to this running project in terms of an efficient IPR management of the project results as well as the foreseen strategies for a future exploitation of these results. The aim was to show the tools and options available for a possible business case creation or/and future follow-up research.
For the second meeting, 10 representatives from SMEs and academia (5 SMEs, 3 Academia, 2 stakeholder associations) have been advised in their long term strategy as to the management of innovation in terms of research (FP7/ IMI) and liaising with the relevant Project officers in the European Commission. The meeting was held in the representation of the Land Baden-Wuerttemberg in Brussels and in parallel sessions there was opportunity to discuss with members of the commission from DG research (Health Directorate). By analyzing the follow-up of those 2 meetings, only 1 SME managed to submit a proposal (under the Research for the benefit of SME-program). The remaining SMEs had to be considered as newcomers to the Framework Programs and therefore the role of partner No. 15, SEZ, was to demonstrate convenient instruments and consequently to identify ideal options that fit to their strategy.
Conclusions
The strategy meetings as a very new format that has been implemented in Fit for Health could be assessed as a successful tool for companies being interested in developing a long term strategy and in dicussing various options for reaching those goals.
Raising the internal awareness about such a long lasting process could be assessed as a first and initial step. For most of the companies the assessment showed that by conducting such meetings the mindset within the companies changed and internal discussions on the overall concepts and visions were initiated. Just for a small amount of enterprises this aspect was considered as minor important, most likely because of the size of the enterprise the relevance for such discussions was not considered as of high importance.
Interestingly, almost all companies as a next step in this overall process started to increase their visibility and to improve their connections on an international level, e.g. in joining relevant events or in getting in contact with other experts or in subscribing in databases. This was done via different routes, depending on the particular company. Only less than 10% of all enterprises assessed did not act accordingly, showing that based on the ideas provided in the meetings emphasis was placed on this important aspect.
Finally, looking at the results that could be estimated after such meetings took place, a heterogenous picture is seen, showing that the degree of the companies in developing new ways and in getting strategic is variable. Nevertheless, the potential of companies that were selected for such meetings show that a first important process was started and that the format in principle was highly appreciated by the companies. The so called coaching and mentoring scheme that is planned tob e implemented in Horizon 2020 will provide a very similar support for SMEs and will also be provided in Fit for Health 2.0 as a follow-up of the Fit for Health initiative.


Partner Searches
FP7-Partnering Days
In total, 492 (243 + 249) persons participated in the events, and 809 bilateral meeting were prearranged (297 + 512). A first feedback has been collected immediately after the events, with 247 persons who responded to the request for feedback sent out (95 + 152). Details are seen in the respective deliverable reports.
This feedback served as an important basis for the impact assessment: during this first evaluation further cooperation opportunities were planned and envisaged and the interest to participate in the upcoming Calls in Health or KBBE (or in other programs) has been announced.
Assessment procedure
To assess the outcome of those partnering events the participants have been contacted via e-mail request with a questionnaire (see ANNEX I). In total, 443 participants have been addressed, and out of those 91 provided a reply. When analyzing the replies, 15 were excluded from the assessment, as they are representing EC-members, NCPs or colleagues from related initiatives. NCPs or colleagues from related initiatives sometimes replaced a SME/researcher who could not be on-site for a bilateral meeting but did not want to cancel the meeting). Finally, 86 answers have been included in the assessment, i.e. 19,4% of all participants addressed.
In addition to the questions immediately answered after the events, some more detailed information was assessed (Did the event assist you in finding partners for an FP7 and/or other program? Did the event lead to any other types of collaboration? Did you submit/participate in an FP7 proposal following the event?) that is shown in detail in the respective deliverable report.


Conclusions
During the FP7 partnering events, many partners could be found for FP7 projects (48.8%), but in addition, partnerships for national programs and other international programs were found (80.2%). This is in line with experiences from previous partnering events that have been initiated in former projects (like “SMEs go Health”), indicating that the bilateral on-site meetings have an additional trigger effect in initiating partnerships on a much broader basis.
Though most of the collaborations started were focused on research, also commercial cooperation and those and those mainly focusing on technology or even other types could be initiated.
The vast majority of proposals that could be prepared and submitted after those partnering events were in the frame of FP7 Calls (most exclusively for Health), but some applications were also prepared for other Calls (27.3%).
Those figures underline that though the organization of such big events is sometimes estimated as too time and cost intensive, the success of such events need to be evaluated in a much broader context and view, showing that new partnerships are arising for projects that were initially not planned but very successful. This in turn leads to the conclusion that partner searches should be considered as a long term strategic tool during the overall planning for R&D activities.

Exploitation Partnering Days
For the first exploitation partnering event taking place at the occasion of the BIOTECHNICA fair in Hannover in 2011, the colleagues from the Enterprise Europe Network who jointly organized the event kindly provided the data collected after the event for assessing the outcome of the bilateral meetings.
In total, 28 participants provided their feedback for 280 meetings that have been arranged prior to the event. Out of those 280 assessed meetings, 36 were evaluated as excellent with a future collaboration being expected. 47 meetings were considered as interesting and though any collaboration was not planned immediately after the event the participants evaluated the partners they had been in contact with during the bilateral talks as highly potential. For 59 of the meetings, the contact has been estimated as good and future exchanges of information are possible. Just 21 meetings did not provide the expectations and were considered as non-relevant. 117 meetings did not take place for various reasons, like last minute cancellations.
To conclude those results, almost 13% of the meetings should have resulted in cooperation and for almost 17% they were very likely or likely (21%).
For the second exploitation partnering event organized at the occasion of the “Meet4LifeSciences”-event in Basel, Switzerland, the evaluation was kindly performed by the colleagues from the Enterprise Europe Network located in Bern.
The results of the evaluation obtained are reflecting the feedback received after 6 months of the event. Finally, 17% of the participants provided the outcome and their reflections of the bilateral meetings. Out of those, the cooperation can be categorized either as fixed or as still under negotiations and in addition divided based on the background (business/funding, technology and research).
Fixed cooperation: one cooperation could be fixed for ”Business/Funding”, one for “Technology” and for “Research” cooperation fixed were mainly identified for topics launched in FP7 Health and KBBE-work programs (in total 17).
Cooperation in negotiation: for ”Business/Funding”, 6 cooperations are under negotiation,
for “Technology” 2 and for “Research” 3 cooperations are negotiated.
Conclusions
Based on those figures, the organization of such partnering events has to be considered as a very helpful tool on the way of exploiting project results that have been generated in EU-funded projects.

Partner Searches – support by the Fit for Health consortium members
To estimate the success of those partner searches / expressions of interest, the respective Fit for Health partners contacted the organsiations bilaterally and asked for feedback and information.
Out of the 105 organsiations contacted, 51 feedbacks provided were categorized as partner searches (48.6%). In addition, 13 partner searches were supported via the EEN-network (12.4%) and 25 requests were categorized as „expression of interest” (23.8%). Based on those aspects, we received feedback from almost 85% of the customers supported.
At least 10 of the partner searches made were counted as successful and the success of the search was directly related to the support of Fit for Health. For 3 successful partner searches the Enterprise Europe Network was mentioned to be the main supporter.
Out of 13 customers who explicitely confirmed the submission of a proposal in one of the Health Calls, and at least one was submitted in an ICT-Call. 5 of those submitted in a Health-Call failed to pass stage one, whereas 8 have been selected to submit an application for the second stage. Out of them, 6 reported their failure in stage 2. Definitely 4 proposals have been selected for funding.
Conclusions
The bilateral support in terms of partner searches is an important part during the overall process of consortium building and proposal submission.

List of Websites:

www.fitforhealth.eu