Small companies get the EU research bug
Sep 18, 1998
Small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) are becoming involved in European Union's Framework programme for research and development in greater numbers, according to the 1998 Annual Report on the research and technological development activities of the European Union. The Framework programme is seen by the EU as a way to encourage companies not active in R&D to collaborate with academic researchers and other companies. More than ECU 8200m has been spent on 15000 research projects in the 4th Framework since 1994.
According to the report, over 80% of the SMEs that received an award during 1995-97 had never taken part in an EU project before, and some 8000 companies had never been involved in any sort of public research project. And the number of SMEs involved in 4th Framework was 231% higher than in its predecessor. Framework projects are private-public partnerships, with the EU providing 50% of the funds on average, and industry supplying the rest. The average project has 4.8 partners and receives ECU 730000 from the EU.
The results of two surveys published in the report show that 40% of companies involved had entered new markets for the first time and increased their workforce. And it was found that for every ECU invested in research as part of the ESPRIT information technology project, over ECU 11 of economic output had been generated eight years later. The details of the 5th Framework is currently being debated.