Extra virgin olive oil producers and other related SMEs have help implementing a wide set of activities and products thanks to a new European Union program “Horizon 2020” currently on its way through various legislative approvals.
Horizon, which follows the 7th Framework Program and merges it with the previous Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Program (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), is the new €70 billion EU Program for research and innovation.
Built on three mutually reinforcing pillars — Societal Challenges, Industrial Leadership and Excellent Science — Horizon 2020 will be the financial instrument to support the whole chain from lab research to the development of innovative products, bringing the ideas not only into practice but all the way to the market.
The role of SMEs as main drivers of innovation and competitiveness is crucial for the European Union. Their small size let them focus on niche markets, bringing cutting-edge technology, innovative trends and inspiring new ideas. Horizon 2020 will provide grants for actions in the field of applied research for SMEs: testing, prototyping, demonstration and pilot actions to create innovative products and services. Furthermore, it will give financial aid to the promotion of entrepreneurship and risk-taking.
As the general director of the European Commission Research and Innovation Directorate, Clara de la Torre, recently said “R&D is making ideas with money; innovation is making money with ideas,” and Horizon 2020 is there to help the business sector be more competitive through the realization of their innovative ideas.
Horizon 2020 is open to all Member States, international organizations and legal entities in third countries (according to the specific conditions laid down in the rules for participation).
The adoption of the work program by the European Commission and the publication of the first calls for proposals will be December 11, 2013.
Another financial instrument devoted to SMEs is the “Eurostars Programme,” strengthened by the EU for the second programming period 2014 – 2020.
Eurostars is a joint program initiative, supported by 33 EUREKA Member States and the EU, aiming at promoting market- oriented transnational research activities for SMEs and, at the same time, synchronizing the national research programs.
Eurostars provides support above all to R&D- performing SMEs, which will have a leading position under the program.
The first call for proposals has already been published and the next dead line will be March, the 13th, 2014.