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Brussels, 25 June 2008

Boosting Small and Medium Enterprises' investment in research: European Commission welcomes the Council agreement on the "Eurostars" Programme

On Monday 23rd of June, the Council of Ministers agreed to provide EUR 100 million from the EU's 7th Framework Programme (FP7) budget to Eurostars, a Research and Development (R&D) programme jointly set up by 31 countries[1] to boost research capacities of Small and Medium-Sized companies (SMEs) in Europe. The EUR 100 million from FP7 will leverage at least EUR 300 million in public funding from the participating countries, resulting in a package of EUR 400 million for financing trans-national research partnerships driven research-performing SMEs in Europe.

EU Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik said: "Research-performing SMEs are the entrepreneurial stars of Europe. We have to join our efforts to support them in this task. The "Eurostars" programme is an excellent example of how Member States and the Commission can contribute to economic growth by reinforcing cooperation between their respective research programmes. Making it possible for SMEs to collaborate with the best European research teams, Eurostars will help them turn new ideas into successful businesses, and reinforce their competitive edge in knowledge and innovation – the cornerstones of our prosperity."

Research-performing SMEs (i.e. companies capable to perform their own R&D) are crucial to the economic success of Europe in the global knowledge economy. With their flexible organisation, resolutely forward-looking strategies, and strong commitment to R&D, these SMEs are uniquely positioned to compete successfully in the global knowledge economy, seizing market opportunities and generating new jobs[2].

Eurostars provides a new, flexible and efficient tool specifically tailored to the needs of R&D- intensive SMEs. Based on Article 169 of the Treaty, the Commission has proposed to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament that the European Community participates in Eurostars with up to EUR 100 million from the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) budget. Following the approval of the European Parliament in April, this proposal was adopted by the Council today.

The integration of the national research and development programmes of the participating countries into a joint programme for research-performing SMEs further contributes to the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA). This initiative adds to, and fully complements, existing actions in favour of SMEs in FP7. It also reinforces the cooperation between EUREKA[3] who will be managing the Eurostars programme, and the Community's FP7.

The EUREKA Secretariat issues calls, receives project proposals, organises evaluation by independent experts, manages the Community contribution to the Joint Programme, and monitors progress of projects. The first such call (closed in February 2008) generated over 200 applications, demonstrating the high level of interest of the SME community.

For further information on Eurostars:

For further information on EUREKA:

[1] Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, plus Iceland, Israel, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

[2] To support SMEs in a more general perspective, the Commission adopted today a Small Business Act for Europe (SBA) which aims at helping SMEs to grow and to create a more entrepreneurial spirit in the European economy (see IP/08/1003).

[3] EUREKA is an intergovernmental Initiative launched in 1985, to support market-oriented R&D and innovation projects by industry, research centres and universities across all sectors. It is composed of 39 Members, including the European Commission

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