Based on cumulative data from 2014 to 2016, the SME Instrument 2017 impact report provides first insights into the growth trends of selected SME beneficiaries, their profiles as well as the key features of the programme. In its first three years some 31 000 applications were received, while just under 2 500 small companies were successful in obtaining funding for a total spend of €882 million.

In 2016, the SME Instrument celebrated its companies’ first successes: first IPOs, major contract signatures, significant private investments, prestigious awards and many market breakthroughs. The impact analysis reveals some consistent facts, such as

Shorter time-to-investment: The SME Instrument funding shortens the average time for companies to get the next investment from 32 to 9 months.

Higher funding rounds: With the SME Instrument, companies raise higher investment rounds (€ 4.3 million on average) than before (€ 2.8 million).

Stronger leverage effect: Only 3 years after the start of SME Instrument, each euro  invested generated one euro of private investment. This amount is likely to be higher in the future as the leverage effect will reveal its full potential only after several years.

The summary highlights are available at https://ec.europa.eu/easme/sites/easme-site/files/2016_smei_report_updated.pdf

while the full report can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/easme/sites/easme-site/files/accelerating_innovation_in_europe_horizon_2020_smei_impact_report.pdf

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Extract from an article published by ScienceBusiness.net

EU research programmes should fund individuals rather than large teams, scrap submission deadlines and award smaller grants, says a new analysis by RISE, an expert group which advises the European Commission on research and innovation. Their 228-page report discusses measures to improve EU science funding, including re-focusing research funding on people rather than projects and introducing a more methodical process for reviewing proposals.

“The extreme competition for limited resources brought about in part from low funding success rates and limited principal investigator-driven funding opportunities creates an incentive structure that has a direct negative impact on open science,” the report says.

The recommendations are the latest – and among the more influential – of hundreds of suggestions that the Commission has received as it begins drafting its next big research and innovation effort, Framework Programme 9. The opinions, from across the EU, generally call for an increase in funding from the current, €77 billion, seven-year programme; but they also criticise the huge amount of time and effort required to apply for the EU grants and the record-low probability of actually winning one.

Faced with extremely low success rates in the current programme, Horizon 2020, researchers are submitting multiple applications. This translates into the loss of many months of research activity and productivity, according to the report.

To improve the success rate and stop excellent proposals missing out, grant amounts could be adjusted so that all applications that meet evaluation criteria and are considered excellent receive some funding, even if the total awarded for some or all grants is less than the originally proposed budgets, the report adds.

Preparing for Horizon 2020 successor

The Commission has been reviewing the performance of the €77 billion Horizon 2020 programme since the beginning of the year, amid concerns in Brussels that the imminent exit of the UK will lead to a cut in the research budget in the future.

To convince member states of the need to maintain – or increase –research resources, EU officials are stressing the importance of building up evidence of the impact of research spending ahead of negotiations on the future EU budget. Another expert group headed by the influential former director-general of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, will publish its vision for the 2021- 2028 EU research programme next month.



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Participants and Member State governments have given their views on the EU’s R&D programme Horizon 2020 to date, reported Éanna Kelly of Science|Business. The verdict: good, but in need of several big mid-course adjustments. Low success rates, lengthy proposals and lack of feedback are common complaints.

At the mid-way point of Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest ever science programme, researchers are feeling broadly positive but want to see some fundamental changes, not least an increase in the success rate for grant applications, according to the results of the public consultation published at the end of April.

The 296 public submissions uploaded to the Commission website, and analysed by Science|Business, reflect the programme’s achievements and the associated frustrations. The evidence is intended to inform the formal review of Horizon 2020, due to be published later this year.

Geographical concentration of funding remains a divisive issue. Five countries receive an estimated two thirds of Horizon 2020 grants. Central and Eastern European countries receive just over 4% of total funding. There is also a belief that the countries which win the most funding from Brussels have undue influence on the development of work programmes.

International participation in Horizon 2020 has likewise dropped: almost 5% of grant winners under FP7 were from countries outside of the EU, but this has fallen to only 2.2% under Horizon 2020. A change in rules, which means Brazil, Russia, India, China and Mexico must provide matched funding, partially explains the drop, but countries such as the US, Canada and Japan, operating under the same rules as before, are considerably less involved in Horizon 2020 than in FP7.

The full article can be found at http://sciencebusiness.net/news/80256/The-Horizon-2020-half-time-score

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Private Chinese firms innovate more efficiently than state-owned firms, yet China showers much more generous R&D subsidies on state-owned firms. This premise is argued in a new article “From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Innovated in China’: Necessity, Prospect, and Challenges” by authors Shang-Jin Wei, Zhuan Xie, and Xiaobo Zhang, which appears in the Journal of Economic Perspectives 31, 2017, pp 49-70.

According to data compiled by economist Shang-Jin Wei and researchers Zhuan Xie and Xiaobo Zhang, private Chinese firms create 0.5 patents per million yuan spent on R&D, while the equivalent figure for state-owned firms is 0.2. This is despite the fact that state-owned firms receive up to four times more R&D subsidies relative to sales.


After more than three decades of high growth based on its low-wage advantage and relatively favorable demographics–in combination with market-oriented reforms and openness to the world economy–China is at a crossroads with a much higher wage and a shrinking workforce. Future growth will depend, by necessity, more on the generation of increased productivity, and domestic innovation will play an important part in this. In this paper, we assess the likelihood that China can make the necessary transition. Using data on expenditure on research and development, and patent applications, receipts, and citations, we show that the Chinese economy has become increasingly innovative. We will argue that rising wages and expanding markets are among the important drivers of China’s growth in innovation. On the other hand, we find evidence of resource misallocation in the innovation area: while state-owned firms receive more subsidies, private firms exhibit more innovation results. Innovation can presumably progress even faster if resource misallocation can be tackled.

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A new business insight provided by Roger La Salle, innovation thought leader and pioneer of “Matrix Thinking”™

It’s “Intangible” yet clearly visible!

A half time talk by a team coach can provide a burst of inspiration, an adrenalin rush and the motivation to get you out there to make an amazing contribution. It’s quite remarkable, the abstraction of inspiration can be clearly visible in physical outcomes with players lifting their game – at least in the very short term.

So too with motivational business speakers. Always great to listen to, they give a lift, you leave their session walking just a little taller ready for action. The question is – just how long does this last?    In general it’s very short-term.

Great businesses have a great culture and much like with motivation, the abstract term of culture is clearly visible. You can see culture simply by walking around a business, observing the people, the facilities, the desks and the way people speak, move and interact. Culture is evident everywhere, you just need to observe.

In my business of innovation and opportunity capture, the same may be applied, except there is a difference. If you want the art of innovation to “stick” you need to get to the very essence of the business, the business DNA as we call it. This is where a culture change is made, where the tools of change are rolled out; not to be just experienced, but to be embedded into the business and used.

Unlike the home gym that you may buy in a fit of inspiration and soon discard as long term hard work and not really much fun, with innovation you achieve results immediately, not in months but on the very first day. Further, once people experience this, realize they can do it and moreover it’s actually fun, the risks of it being discarded are gone and a new culture begins to permeate the organisation.

Is this rocket science?
Like a golf swing, when done properly the beauty of innovation is in its simplicity. Innovation is a culture, keep it simple, inspired by capability, method, tools, practice and outcomes.

Do this and see an outcome that is clearly visible.



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If you are wondering about the effects of old age on your capacity to innovate, take a read at this New Statesman article to cheer yourself up…


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In its search to encourage more academic research on the role of patents in the European economy – as well as to promote the dissemination of research results – the European Patent Office is providing financial support for rigorous research projects that set out to produce empirical evidence with relevant implications for policy makers and business in Europe.

The first annual call for projects is offering a total of €300 000 in patent research grants. Selected projects will be granted between €20 000 and €100 000 each.

The EPO may also offer assistance on a case-by-case basis, for example by sharing internal expertise or helping to organise project-specific workshops.

Selection criteria

The grants will be awarded to a limited number of well-defined projects addressing a specific question within the 6 thematic areas listed below which span various disciplinary fields including economics, IP management, IP law and data sciences. Interdisciplinary projects will also be considered.

  1. The European patent system’s impact on trade and investment in Europe
  2. Patent services and intermediaries in Europe
  3. IP business models and patent valuation methods
  4. Patents for SMEs and universities in Europe
  5. Patents and climate change mitigation technologies
  6. Advanced use of PATSTAT and patent analytics.

Project proposals must be submitted in English.

The call for projects is open to individuals and research teams based in a member state of the European Patent Organisation. In the case of cross-organisational co-operation, the proposal must be submitted and the project led by an individual or research team based in a member state of the European Patent Organisation.

Selection process

The proposals will be peer-reviewed by external experts specialising in the relevant research area. The grants will be awarded by the Programme’s Scientific Committee chaired by the EPO Chief Economist by the end of July 2017.

Research proposals will be rated according to the following criteria:

  • originality and innovativeness of the research question
  • potential policy/business implications
  • clarity and quality of the proposed methodology
  • ability of the applicant to successfully complete the project
  • relevance of the proposed budget

How to apply

Project proposals – in English – must be submitted using the template available for download in the top-right corner of this page https://www.epo.org/learning-events/materials/academic-research-programme.html

The deadline for submission of proposals is 15 June 2017.

Queries and completed applications should be sent to ARP@epo.org.

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