The European Commission is organising a conference entitled The 4th SME Technology Days in Leeds (UK) on 25-27/9/2002. Recognising the essential role of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the EU economy, this major conference provides concrete examples of European Union initiatives to foster the creation and development of SMEs through pioneering research, innovation and stronger international partnerships.
The New Framework Programme devotes the highest ever budget to SMEs. Over 15% of the thematic programme “Focusing an Integrating community research” will be allocated to SMEs (1,7 billion EUR). A further 0,43 billion EUR will go to SMEs through Specific Schemes. With a total of over 2,2 billion EUR over the next four years, the 6th Framework Programme represent the largest instrument supporting research and innovation for SMEs in the world.
According to EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin this is a good opportunity for entrepreneurs to become familiar with FP6 initiatives for SMEs: “Small and medium enterprises are Europe’s growth engine: they account for 66% of private sector employment, as opposed to 46% in the USA and 33% in Japan. They need easier access to knowledge, finance and commercial partnerships. But they also need cutting hedge technologies: know-how makes the difference in the marketplace. The European Research Area (ERA) that we are building, a true single market for science, knowledge and innovation, will provide for new opportunities for the start up and grow of SMEs. FP6 will help speed things up”.
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