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Support for European Aeronautical SMEs

Final Report Summary - AEROSME VI (Support for European Aeronautical SMEs)

The AEROSME VI project was a support action coordinated by the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), representing the aerospace industry in Europe in all matters of common interest. The project addressed the needs of aeronautical small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which showed a low participation in previous framework programmes. At the instigation of the industry and with the active support of the EC, the AEROSME project started to address this issue. AEROSME informed and supported SMEs interested in joining European technology projects.

The project objectives were:
- to support aeronautical SMEs in advancing their technology base and their competitiveness through participation in European R&T projects to improve and maintain the competitiveness of the European aeronautical supply chain;
- to promote SME participation in the Framework Programmes' calls by providing the necessary supporting and information services;
- to stimulate international co-operation by supporting and co-ordinating a reliable network between SMEs, industry, research institutes, universities and other entities;
- to support the aerospace sector of the new Member States in joining the European aerospace community;
- to stimulate the exchange of information and views among the various tiers of the supply chain by providing a communication platform not only for SMEs but also for large enterprises and research organisations which usually have little direct access to the SME community.

AEROSME VI was represented at 11 national and regional workshops, of which 3 in the new Member States and associated countries. The events aimed at present the new FP7 features, disseminate information on project proposals, provide individual consulting, matchmaking, etc. The workshops were organised in cooperation with the respective national or regional associations. In addition to the AEROSME staff, a representative from respectively the EC, the industry, the research establishments and the universities usually presented their view, their way of work and the specific support available from their side.

The awareness campaign was also complemented by the issue of 14 newsletters, informing on funding opportunities, deadlines for submission, events, partner searches and so on. A guide to EU funded research was set up, and updated for each call, to be used as a quick reference to basic information on FP7, to provide an overview of the major changes and a list of the relevant websites.

AEROSME facilitated and encouraged the access of SMEs, and other aeronautical organisations, to the Level 2 proposals prepared by the larger aerospace companies for the first and second call. The Level 2 proposal abstracts were issued on the AEROSME website prior each call, along with an updated and reviewed version of the Technology Offer Form. In order to ensure maximum SME participation in the research proposals, nearly 100 person-to-person meetings were arranged between proposal coordinators and individual SMEs, interested to participate in a Level 2 proposal, during the Brussels workshops.

Thanks to the established network of contacts, which include large companies (represented in the industrial management groups - ASD-IMG4), research establishments, universities, national and regional associations, etc., AEROSME provided an effective communication platform for all players in the Aeronautics community and a single point of reference for all inquiries and networking in the Aerospace sector. The coverage of all 30+ countries associated with FP7, ensured a truly pan-European approach. Through tailored services such as the helpdesk, the website, the SME database and the newsletters, the project provided a 'one stop shop' for inquiries on both EU research and supply chain issues, ensuring also an impartial approach not linked to national or commercial interests.

The following actions and deliverables were the results of AEROSME IV:
- a support scheme for the whole FP7, including a guide to EU funded research, updated for each FP7 call, to be used as a quick SME-friendly reference to basic information on FP7;
- a network of national points of contact in 28 countries, of which 9 in the new Member States and candidate countries;
- an awareness campaign including the organisation and/or participation in 11 national / regional workshops, of which 3 in the new Member States and associated countries, to inform SMEs on FP7 R&TD project opportunities and procedures;
- 14 newsletters, of which 6 R&D Project Flash (which focuses on partner searches for specific project proposals);
- information and services to support the access of SMEs in the Level 2 proposals to be submitted in the first and second call of FP7, ranging from the publication of the research proposals to the delivery of a list of potential SME partners to the coordinators;
- organisation of two international workshops to prepare respectively the first and the second aeronautics calls in FP7, including nearly 100 one-to-one meetings between interested SMEs and project coordinators;
- assistance to access Level 1 proposals and direct guidance to nine project ideas;
- a guide to EU funded research to be used as a quick reference to basic information on FP7;
- fully operational helpdesk, website, and internet SME database.

The services of AEROSME were provided to the SMEs of all the countries associated to FP7. However, a particular effort was dedicated to the new Member States and candidate countries, to support their integration in the European aeronautics community and their access to the FP7 project proposals.

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