Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. They are often referred to as the backbone of the European economy, providing a potential source for jobs and economic growth. According to the 2017/2018 Annual Report on European SMEs, over the period 2008-2017 SMEs' contribution to growth in value added and employment exceeded what would have been expected on the basis of their relative importance in the economy, accounting for 47% of the total increase in the value added generated by the non-financial business sector, and for 52% of the cumulative increase in employment in the sector.
SMEs are often well suited for the Big Science market. Unhindered by the rigid organisational structure which is characteristic of large enterprises, experience shows that SMEs can offer considerable more flexibility and in some cases are better prepared to adapt to specific technical requirements of Big Science organisations in advanced technology procurements. These procurements usually entail development and manufacture of a small number of particularly innovative units in a given technology field which quite often don´t fulfil the business model requirements of large industries, but can be more aligned with the SME’s growth strategy based on involvement on highly singular projects. Examples of this can be found across the Big Science market in different European SMEs.
Unfortunately SMEs also face difficulties when engaging in business with Big Science organisations. The latters’ risk management policies and financial requirements often exclude technically capable SMEs from contracting directly with Big Science organisations. Access to finance, which is reported as one of the main barriers for the growth of European SMEs, also is a key issue. And finally, the amount of business development manpower that is necessary to pursue opportunities in the Big Science market is not always feasible for SMEs, in particular for small companies.
The objective of the SME track is twofold:
How: PERIIA, the Pan-European Research Infrastructure ILOs Association, selects 20 European SMEs amongst the replies received from a call for the SME track launched to all European ILOs. The final selection ensures an adequate balance between countries, technologies and SME size. Participating SMEs will be entitled to:
Selected companies will be contacted by the IOC
Where and when:
Cryoplant valves (Photo: ITERO)