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Small businesses urge changes to Horizon 2020

The Horizon 2020 proposal badly needs more work to ensure it will involve more small and medium sized businesses, according to the European association of small and medium-sized enterprises (Ueapme).

Following an event in Brussels on 1 October, Ueapme president Gunilla Almgren has said in a statement there is a “sense of urgency” to ensure that the measures designed to increase the participation of SMEs will have a real impact for small businesses.

The European Commission has previously announced plans for Horizon 2020 to include a dedicated SME instrument which will allocate €6.8 billion to high-risk research by small businesses – around 15 per cent of the societal challenges and industrial leadership budget streams.

Whilst Ueapme supports this idea, a single management body will be needed to implement this across the research programme, said the association. Other changes to the proposal should include the abolition of current thresholds to finance loan guarantees, the lobby group said.

The Commission needs to ensure that “these policies will not only look good on paper, but bring about change on the ground,” said Ms Almgren. “The next programmes will run until the end of this decade, so we must get them right as of now.”

Speaking at the event for small businesses, commissioner for research Máire Geoghegan-Quinn repeated her commitment to increase the participation of SMEs under Horizon 2020. This will include an action targeting research-intensive SMEs under the Eurostars Joint Programme, as well as greater access to funding through the Enterprise Europe Network, said the Commissioner.

The Commission has also asked SMEs to identify the most burdensome legislation acts under a consultation launched on 1 October, as part of ongoing efforts to reduce red tape.