Proposals involved more than 75% industrial partners, with some 70% R&D-performing SMEs. As with Call 1, the majority of projects covered three main areas: information and communications technologies; biomedical and healthcare; and industrial manufacturing materials. There was an average of 3.5 partners per project with an average funding requirement of 2.9 million euro.
‘Part of the increase results from five new participating countries - Belgium, Italy and the UK, together with Croatia and Luxembourg,’ says Luuk Borg, who heads up the EUREKA Secretariat in Brussels. ‘However, the high number overall reflects the attraction of this ambitious programme focusing on the research needs of high tech small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).’
Eurostars is a joint initiative between the EU and currently 31 participating countries, managed by EUREKA, and is open to applications in all areas of technology. While assessment and evaluation is conducted centrally in Brussels by an independent panel of technical and business experts, project applicants benefit from local business advice and expertise through the network of EUREKA national project co-ordinators (NPCs) in each member country.
A strength of Eurostars lies in the upfront commitment to funding from the European Commission and participating countries. Moreover, the central evaluation system provides a very fast acceptance of quality projects with synchronisation of central and national funding.
‘The undoubted success of Eurostars is a clear call to the European Commission and to participating EUREKA member countries to provide additional funding for what is becoming a proven approach to supporting European SMEs,’ says Borg.
Project proposals are now set for the fast-track and transparent evaluation process of Eurostars, designed to check business, technology and economic criteria. The sheer number of projects will place the quality threshold even higher than with the first call at the beginning of 2008. However the transparency of the programme is helping attract more money from participating countries.
‘We now hope the EUREKA network and the European Commission will support us in finding additional funding,’ says Borg. ‘It is makes obvious sense to put more money into a successful approach to encouraging industrial research in Europe rather than constantly seeking to establish new programmes. The EUREKA network has shown clearly that it not only can handle the demands of this new programme but also the increase in interest in traditional EUREKA projects that has been generated by our new approach.’
More information about Eurostars can be found at www.eurostars-eureka.eu or through the EUREKA national project co-ordinators.
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