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Support for SMEs collaborative aeronautical technical research (SCRATCH PHASE IV)

Final Report Summary - SCRATCH PHASE IV (Support for SMEs collaborative aeronautical technical research)

Aerospace industries have provoked important developments in Europe's infrastructure. They have contributed massively to the economies of Europe and the wealth of a number of its regions; they employ a huge and, through exports, contributes strongly to Europe's ability to develop the quality of life of its citizens. Aerospace Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have a significant involvement in the supply chain in Europe representing thousands of companies. In the Fifth European Framework Programme (FP5), their involvement in European Commission (EC) funded research had been supported by accompanying measures funded projects like SCRATCH.

The SCRATCH principles had obtained the support of the EC thanks to funded stimulation actions since 1999, in the field of aeronautics. From 1999 to 2004, 5 000 SMEs had been directly contacted, 450 had been audited and 160 different research expressed interests had been collected. SCRATCH consortia had serviced and presented 64 proposals to the European Commission (EC) evaluation, all of them being coordinated by SMEs. 28 had been funded, which demonstrates the efficiency of the SCRATCH approach to the benefit of SMEs technological acquisition in aeronautics.

The support offered to SMEs in SCRATCH PHASE IV from 2004 to 2006 was a follow-up to the previous SCRATCH stimulation actions. It dealt with Specific Targeted Research Projects (STREPs) preparations in the field of aerospace. Serviced SME STREPs proposals were short-term oriented, led by an SME, with a maximum involvement of SMEs, with the help of technology providers (large manufacturers and research centres or universities).

SCRATCH PHASE IV was a Specific Support Action (SSA) funded by the EC under the 'Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area (ERA)' Programme (Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) 2002-2006)). It was represented by a Partnership of 17 associations or firms from Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Greece, Israel, Canada, Ireland, Sweden and Hungary. This partnership extended directly its activities to Malta, Cyprus and Luxemburg, covering 20 nations in total. All the partners had significant experience with European research and technology support programmes.

SCRATCH PHASE IV's main objectives were:
- to bring technology acquisition opportunities and Research and technological development (RTD) awareness mechanisms to a maximum number of SMEs, directly or indirectly involved in the European Aerospace supply chain.
- to audit and help SMEs to structure their corporate research plan and to point out jointly the technology acquisition themes able to be acquired collaboratively within the 'Aerospace' Thematic Priority of FP6;
- to enrich the European aerospace SMEs data base, in cooperation with Aerospace and Defense Industries Association of Europe's (ASD) AeroSME project;
- to set up a list of short-term, product oriented, expressed research needs from aerospace SMEs;
- to offer aerospace SMEs with services in order to have access to FP6 RTD funds dedicated to SMEs (which target was, in particular, to allocate 15 % budget in the 'Aerospace' Thematic Priority).
- to bring together aerospace SMEs from the European Union (EU) Member States and Associated States to prepare in cooperation SMEs technology acquisition proposals;
- to support the initial management when setting up a serviced SME STREP proposal;
- to submit at least 15 serviced collaborative RTD (STREPs led by SMEs in the field of the 'Aerospace' Thematic Priority) for evaluation to the European Commission (EC);
- to undertake investigations dealing with aerospace SMEs needs and capabilities in view of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) preparation;
- to remain flexible to adapt the SCRATCH objectives to the FP6 evoluting implementation mechanisms. In particular, the participation of SMEs within the Integrated Project (IP) proposals would be helped by the SCRATCH partnership.