Eureka network and Commission launch €1B European Partnership for Innovative SMEs

27 Jun 2022 | Network Updates | Update from EUREKA Secretariat
These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network


The European Commission and the Eureka inter-governmental network signed off on a €1 billion European Partnership on Innovative SMEs at the 28th Eureka ministerial conference in Estoril, Portugal this week.

This European Partnership for Innovative SMEs includes the third iteration of the Eurostars programme, which connects entrepreneurs across national borders in a bid to help them get innovative products to market and to expand internationally. As a new feature in this partnership the INNOWWIDE instrument will connect SMEs globally to any market in the world.

“As exports and internationalisation are a key subject for companies in all countries, we want to help. We’re not only financing innovation but also international collaboration,” said Miguel Bello Mora, Eureka chairman and CEO of Atlantic International Research Centre.

Anna Panagopoulou, Director of the European Research Area (ERA) and Innovation at the Commission Directorate General for Research and Innovation, participating  in the conference, said that the launching of the launching of the new partnership is an important milestone of European Commission cooperation with Eureka network. This cooperation, which started in 1985 has managed to develop substantial initiatives with high impact to the European SMEs.

The Commission is putting up to €250 million from Horizon Europe into this partnership. Funding bodies in Eureka member countries are contributing nearly another €750 million. All this will be disbursed to SMEs and other organisations through competitive calls running until 2027.

The partnership is bottom-up. While Eureka encourages a focus on sustainability, the topics of the projects are proposed by the participants.

Strategic cooperation

To reinforce their relationship, Eureka countries and the Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding during the Ministerial Conference held in Estoril, Portugal, this week, to deepen their strategic cooperation in many areas also beyond supporting SMEs.

The aim of the memorandum is to put more political leverage behind the joint work of the two organisations. This MoU focuses on four areas of cooperation: 1) the support towards European innovative SMEs, 2) the global cooperation in R&I, 3) the cooperation in the context of the ERA pact and 4) the cooperation in the context of the upcoming new European Innovation Agenda

“There’s a lot of appetite to work strategically and see how we can capitalise on the work of the network,” says Anna Panagopoulou.

The first step of the deepened cooperation will involve looking into how Eureka can better work with the EU’s numerous innovation initiatives,  Anna Panagopoulou said.

Bello said Eureka complements the EU’s innovation ambitions. “We are very much filling gaps and helping,” he says. “[The memorandum of understanding] will be our contribution.”

While there is a huge number and variety of innovation initiatives at EU level, Bello and Panagopoulou are convinced that Eureka adds extra value, bringing unique networking and support opportunities to the table and providing a global dimension through Eureka’s 48 member countries, with both South Korea and Canada this week transitioning to become full members of the network.

There is much to be done to improve support for innovative SMEs, Bello said.

At the end of the day, the collaboration is about having an impact on society, by raising employment, boosting Europe’s innovation potential and contributing to addressing societal challenges. “Don’t forget that the tools are nothing by themselves. What is important is the final objective,” said Bello.

Never miss an update from Science|Business:   Newsletter sign-up