"There are around 23 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union â€“ that is 99% of all enterprises. SMEs provide over 100 million jobs in Europe, and in some sectors account for more than three-quarters of all jobs. SMEs therefore make up the backbone of Europe's economy."
(Facts and figures â€“ SMEs in Europe)
"About every tenth euro spent by SMEs in the EU, is spent on a new or significantly improved product or service. At the same time, almost four in 10 SMEs say that they do not have new products or that they do not have income from new products." (Survey of the Observatory of European SMEs, 2007)
SMEs' strengths lie in their agility, imagination and customer interaction. However capitalizing on these strengths requires focused policy action to overcome the significant barriers they face either from inside or from outside. To be effective, these policies should be able to reach a large proportion of SMEs and tailor their actions to the various types of SMEs and their particular needs. This project aspires to advance this cause by fulfilling the following objectives:
- To develop a reference guide of good practices including benchmarks for strengthening the knowledge exchange and knowledge transfer between research organizations and various kinds of SMEs; under the term good practices, the reference guide will refer to the specific services offered and the deployed programmes as well as the relevant policies
- To develop a blueprint paper on new emerging forms of SMEs support for research backed by large corporations in a context where open innovation and public-private partnerships have increasingly gained importance; the paper will include benchmarks for private initiatives and public private partnerships of different kinds to support research activities within small businesses in different industries (e.g. consumer goods, IT, pharmaceuticals)
- To initiate the engagement of policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders (see Table 16) into a dialogue and ensure the 'translation' of the reference guide and the blueprint paper into a roadmap for embedding the more suitable practices and policies into the European Research Area and the policy making at both regional and national levels
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The RAPPORT project is funded by the European CommissionÂ