Total refurbishment of the Brussels offices marks the expansion of activities and ambitions for the intergovernmental research initiative, which also runs the new Eurostars Programme providing public/private funding for research by high-tech small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe.
“EUREKA has been successful in bringing together national funding for collaborative European industrial research projects for 22 years,” said Minister Dolinar. “A major goal of the current Slovenian Chairmanship is to establish EUREKA as one of the important pillars of the European Research Area (ERA) to contribute to the realisation of the EU Lisbon goals and to improve European competitiveness.”
Slovenia has been a member of EUREKA since 1994 and took over the Chairmanship in July 2007. In addition to preparing new strategy and actions plans for EUREKA, the Chair has focused on simplifying and synchronising procedures, and promoting a proactive approach to project end users, including improving communications with target groups. It is also keen to see membership expansion in the Western Balkans.
Eurostars hits the target
“Results of the first Eurostars call in February 2008 have been outstanding, with more than 200 applications seeking some 300 million euro of combined funding for innovative industrial projects,” said Luuk Borg, Head of the EUREKA Secretariat. “More than 75% of consortia members are SMEs – the specific target group for the programme. And the high rate of eligibility of projects – more than 180 meeting the criteria – shows potential participants clearly understood the purpose of the programme.”
Proposals cover the whole range of EUREKA subjects, with from the technology point of view some 40% concerned with information and communications technology (ICT), 17% with biosciences, 12% with manufacturing industry and 8% with the environment. From the market side, some 20% of proposals concern medical applications, 17% involve manufacturing and 14% pure ICT.
Exploiting innovative technology
EUREKA promotes cross-border, market-oriented, collaborative R&D and simplifies access to national funding for industry and research institutes from 37 member countries in a bottom-up approach to developing and exploiting innovative technology. In a concerted effort with the European Union, EUREKA launched Eurostars – a joint action with 29 EUREKA countries – in October 2007 as the first support and funding programme specifically dedicated to research- and innovation-performing SMEs.
Eurostars provides a new level of cooperation and integration between Community and national research programmes to boost R&D-performing SMEs and is a powerful illustration of ERA in action. By creating strong links between public and private funding, Eurostars offers ambitious and innovative SMEs a single access point at national level to both national and European research funding. Key benefits are a fast-track application procedure, harmonised evaluation and synchronised funding timetables, leading to fast results that can be brought to market rapidly.
Eurostars is managed by the EUREKA Secretariat, under the authority of the Eurostars High Level Group of representatives of the participating countries. The Secretariat issues calls, receives project proposals, organises evaluation by independent experts, manages the financial contributions to the programme, and monitors project progress. The next cut-off date for Eurostars applications is 21 November 2008.
More information about the Eurostars Programme can be found at: www.eurostars-eureka.eu or by contacting EUREKA national project coordinators.
Sally Horspool | alfa
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