The Eurostars Joint Programme is an initiative set up under Article 185 of the Treaty on the Functioning of European Union (TFEU), undertaken by 27 Member States and 6 countries associated with the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), organised around the organisational platform offered by EUREKA.
The European Parliament and Council agreed on 9 July 2008 on the proposal of the Commission, to support financially the Eurostars programme, with up to €100 million for the period 2008-2013. The European Union contribution is equivalent to a maximum of one third of the effective contributions of the Member States and the other participating countries.
All EU Member States are involved in Eurostars. In addition, Croatia, Iceland, Israel, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey are also participating. The programme is managed by EUREKA Secretariat. At the national level, the programme is coordinated by National Programme Coordinators (NPCs) and National Funding Bodies (NFBs).
Eurostars aims to stimulate these SMEs to lead international collaborative research and innovation projects by easing access to support and funding. It focuses on the needs of SMEs, and specifically targets the development of new products, processes and services and the access to transnational and international markets.
Through this joint Programme, based on Article 185 of the Lisbon Treaty, Eurostars aims at combining the best of two worlds with a bottom-up approach, a central submission and evaluation process, and synchronized national funding in 33 countries.
The Eurostars programme aims at supporting those R&D performing SMEs by:
- creating a sustainable European R&D support mechanism for R&D performing SMEs;
- encouraging participating SMEs to create new economic activities based on R&D results and bring new products, processes and services to the market faster than would otherwise be possible;
- promoting technological and business development and internationalisation of the participating SMEs.
The total budget of the programme is EUR 300 million from national funds and additional EUR 100 millions from the European Commission.
Thirty-three countries currently participate in the Eurostars Programme through the EUREKA network of national offices. In each participating country, different national funding rules apply.
The main participant of any Eurostars consortium must be an R&D SME in order to satisfy the Eurostars eligibility criteria. Usually consortium are set up with R&D SMEs, SMEs and Research Institutes and Universities.
The bottom-up approach gives the freedom to participants to launch their projects in any technological and market area.
The overview of the last cut-offs shows that any kind of innovative technology has its place in Eurostars.
There are some eligibility criteria to comply with in order to apply in the Eurostars Programme.
This is a summary of the different criteria:
- The project must meet the EUREKA criteria: it can address any technology but must have a civilian purpose and be aimed at the development of a new product, process or service.
- The leading SME must be a R&D performing SME.
- All the SMEs must fulfil the EU-adopted definition of an SME.
- The leading SME must be based in Eurostars member state.
- There has to be at least one other participant from a Eurostars country.
- The R&D performing SMEs must undertake 50% of total project cost.
- No partner or country is performing more than 75% of project total cost.
- The project duration is <= 3 years.
- Market introduction is foreseen within 2 years after project end.