7 Framework programme: Research for the benefit of SMEs
1. Research for SMEs scheme
The objective of this scheme is to directly support SMEs in the project to outsource their research activities. The scheme aims at supporting SMEs in need of outsourcing research activities to RTD performers such as universities, research centres or research performing SMEs. 'Other enterprises and end-users', which belong to the same value chains as the participating SMEs, can participate, if it is in the interest of the project.
Projects aim at creating new knowledge or achieving results with a clear exploitation potential to improve or develop new products, processes or services which meet the needs of the participating SMEs.
This scheme can assist SMEs in acquiring technological know-how and accessing international networks for their medium to long-term business development and follow a bottom-up approach, meaning that the research can originate in the entire field of science and technology in all industrial sectors.
2. Research for SME Associations scheme
The objective of this scheme is to indirectly support SMEs through their associations /groupings to outsource research activities. This scheme targets SME associations which act on behalf of their members to identify and address common technological problems and to promote the effective dissemination and take-up of research results. Projects include research, technological development and demonstration activities and are encouraged to include other activities such as training, to facilitate the dissemination and exploitation of results.
3. Demonstration activity
The objective of this activity is to prove (demonstrate) the viability of a new solution (itself a successful outcome of a research project) that offers a potential economic advantage but which cannot be directly commercialised as further technological or other developments are required. SMEs often need to follow up research projects with work linked to ‘demonstration’ or production of prototypes before actually commercialising goods and services but funding for this kind of activity is not readily available. Activities could e.g. include testing of prototypes, scale-up studies, performance verification and implementation of new technological and non-technological solutions. This action could also include detailed market studies and business plans. There are no thematic restrictions.
4.Coordination and Support Action - supporting action
The Commission, in its proposal for the SME support in the forthcoming programme Horizon 2020, has put strong emphasis on the development of a direct face-to-face mentoring and coaching support to SMEs desiring to innovate.