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Some 200 people attended the Brussels launch of the next phase of the Eurostars programme. Eurostars is the only European programme that provides funding for research-performing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Programme allows SMEs to participate in transnational projects to develop high-tech commercial products, processes and services. Eurostars provides combined public funding from its 33 participating countries and the EU, through Horizon 2020.
Norwegian EU Ambassador Atle Leikvoll with EUREKA Chairwoman Kristin Danielsen and EU Commission Research Director Robert-Jan Smits
One of the keynote speakers, Hugh-Morgan Williams, President of BUSINESS EUROPE’s SME committee said this industry sector was now attracting ‘high political attention’, for having created 85% of all new jobs in the EU from 2002 to 2010. ‘SMEs are creating more intellectual propriety rights than any other sector of the economy and have a higher inclination to take risks than big companies,’ thus playing an important role in the capacity of Europe to recover from the economic crisis, he added.
‘In Europe, 35% of SMEs carry international activities and 28% of them innovate,’ said Gunnar Matthiesen, who represented the Enterprise Europe Network in the panel debate.
‘The most disruptive changes come by surprise from SMEs’ said keynote speaker, Atle Leikvoll, Norwegian Ambassador to the EU, representing his Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Monica Mæland. He also pointed out the advantage of their adaptability in the presence of a challenging economy. The next phase of Eurostars under Horizon 2020 will be one of the major achievements of the current Norwegian chairmanship of EUREKA, which is running until July 2014.
'EUROSTARS PROJECT PARTICIPANT PATRICK ALEXANDRE, CHAIRMAN OF CROSSJECT PRAISED THE PROGRAMME'S SIMPLICITY AND STRAIGHTFORWARD APPLICATION PROCESS.'
Eurostars project participant Patrick Alexandre, Chairman of French company Crossject, which developed the world’s first needle-free injection device through the Eurostars ISTAR project, praised the programme’s simplicity and the straightforward nature of the application process.
Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General of DG Research and Innovation praised Eurostars as ‘a success story of cooperation between the European Commission and EUREKA.’ Eurostars has seen its funding triple to 1.14 billion euros under Horizon 2020, compared to the budget allocated to it under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
EUREKA Chairwoman Kristin Danielsen said that the next phase of Eurostars would operate faster and deliver even better support to SMEs than under FP7. While one of the changes in the new programme will be a wider opening to medium-sized companies, greater harmonisation between national offices will be crucial to its improved functioning. EUREKA Chairwoman Kristin Danielsen underlined the role EUREKA plays in reducing the fragmentation of the European funding landscape.
‘EUROSTARS REDUCES RISKS FOR SMALL COMPANIES AS THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHEN THE FUNDING WILL GO INTO THEIR BANK ACCOUNT'
The 10 July 2013 proposal from the European Commission on Eurostars is now under discussion at the European Council and the European Parliament. The Eurostars Programme also has a newly nominated rapporteur, Miloslav Ransdorf. European Parliamentarian and former Eurostars rapporteur Paul Rübig, an outspoken supporter of the programme since its launch, said the European Parliament would deliver its answer to the proposal by March 2014 at the latest, just before European elections. Rübig added that, for SMEs, one of the most attractive perks of Eurostars was the limited red-tape associated in applying – and the speed of the funding decision: ‘Eurostars reduces risks for small companies as they know exactly when the funding will go into their bank account.’
SMEs and other research organisations interesting in taking part in the programme have until 13 March 2014 20:00 CET to submit their application to Eurostars.