The EU aims to support small and medium-sized enterprise in various ways through grants, loans and in some cases guarantees. In summary, there tends to be three categories of funding available:
1. Loan/equity financial instruments which aim to strengthen a company's balance sheet.
2. Specific thematic research project grants, such as Framework 7 (FP7), which can co-finance certain types of project.
3. Enterprise and innovation projects and collaborations, which are seen as fundamental to the EU's future competitiveness. Examples of grants include those which enable businesses to establish or build up research capacity, including Eurostar R & D grants, plus investigation-driven research projects under the Framework 7 programme(health, food, energy, transport, ICT).
For help in assessing these opportunities, given the time, resource and contractual administration involved, it's best to seek the advice of a trusted partner such as the Enterprise Europe Network as a starting point. The type of help they can offer includes:
- information on EU funding opportunities
- identification of potential business partners across Europe
- researching new markets
- developing new products through innovation
- accessing public sector contracts
- understanding EU legislation.
For further information from the Enterprise Europe Network, please telephone 0844 725 2244.