New European Commission web tool helps SMEs to innovate
With the launch of a new web tool, the European Commission is making it easier for for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access state-of-the-art technological services across Europe.
The tool allows SMEs to find technological service centres active in the field of Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). Such centres can help SMEs to speed up the commercialisation of their innovation ideas.
The centres have been selected according to a set of capacity and quality criteria. They provide services to enterprises, such as help with prototyping, testing, upscaling, first production and product validation. The web tool provides details for each of the 187 technology infrastructures within service centres active in the area of KETs. For each centre, an SME contact person has been identified and their contact details are provided.
Several studies have revealed that SMEs often don't find their way to technological services simply due to lack of awareness. Another problem is the uneven distribution of these services across Europe: more than 50% of technological service centres in the area of KETs are located in only 3 countries.
The launch of the web tool is just a first step towards easier access for SMEs to technology. More actions are needed to ensure easy and pan-European access for SMEs to technological services. The Commission is looking into the best ways to promote European networks of such organisations with a single access point for SMEs. As a pilot, an action under Horizon 2020 is planned to help SMEs get access to technological services in the field of advanced manufacturing for clean production.
Key Enabling Technologies (advanced manufacturing and materials, industrial biotechnology, micro-/nanoelectronics, photonics and nanotechnology) are game-changing technologies. KETs provide the basis for innovation in a wide range of advanced products and processes across all industrial (emerging and traditional) sectors. They are key drivers for a sustainable and competitive industry.