SMEs are 99,8% of a EU companies and are the main employment provider (66%, sources Euro stat). SMEs are also paying a prominent role in Japan. Innovation is a strategic factor for SMEs even if they often show major difficulties in acceding to R&D results or in developing R&D activities on their own. Against this framework, specialised networks could play a pivotal role in bringing SMEs closer to R&D. In both the EU (about 400 members) and Japan (about 500 members) the Chambers of commerce system is wide and capillary, is catalyst of resources, promoter and co-ordinator of initiatives and is considered a focal point for different bodies/actors involved in R&D activities like development agencies, research institutes, etc. This network could better liase SMEs and R&D also according the EU subsidiary principle. In this context, Mondimpresa (co-owned by the Italian Union of Chambers of commerce and the National Federation of Industry) plans to organise a workshop between the EU and Japan aimed at promoting, on a permanent basis, an exchange of experiences and know-how in assisting SMEs to get closer to R&D. The workshop should take place in Rome during the first half of 2001.