The Star-Net transport project aimed to increase the participation of surface transport-related SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in the Sustainable Surface Transport programme (SST) within the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Star-Net transport builds on the knowledge, tools and services developed within some of the most relevant FP6-SUSTDEV support actions over the past years (SURFACE NET, TRANSMES, AUTOIN, EURO-TRANS and HUN-POL-TRANS) and in future FP7-SST-SSAs projects.
Main objective of the Star-Net Transport project was to strengthen the competitiveness of SMEs operating within the Sustainable Surface Transport (SST) sector by helping them to participate in FP7 Research and Technological Development (RTD) activities.
Star-net Transport is a network built across 15 countries, aimed at assisting SME participation in FP7 by developing a range of service and tools specifically addressed to their needs.
The foreseen benefits for SMEs are:
- Creation of new skills and job opportunities by promoting research and development (RTD) activities in the SST sector;
- Promotion of industrial-oriented research across Europe and connect companies with similar or complementary needs;
- Promotion of international cooperation among Transport stakeholders;
- Promotion of exchange of best practice in FP7 SST project proposals;
- Creating awareness of major EU policies and financial instruments in the SST field;
- Identifying barriers to SME participation in FP7 projects and propose recommendations to the EC;
- Contribution to the Research Agenda in the SST sector;
- Assuring a wide geographical coverage and impact: 12 countries, including EU-12 Members and Associated Countries.
The project provided the following services free of charge to SMEs:
- Identification of the needs and expertise of SMEs as a first step towards FP7 participation;
- Organisation of targeted FP7 workshops and partnering events at national and European level;
- Provision of advice sessions: answering all queries about FP7 project proposals, submission procedures and rules;
- Provision of online thematic groups to share and solve problems, assisted by SST experts;
- Access to an online tool to support project proposal writing;
- Opportunity to be part of the Star-net Transport database;
- Support in consortium building and partner search for FP7 RTD proposals;
- Support in writing FP7 RTD project proposals.
The "STAR-NET TRANSPORT" project was built around a core group of service providers: the Star-Net Central Unit and a network of 14 local nodes:
- Star-Net transport Central Unit: The STAR-NET project was built around a core group of service providers. It brought together four organisations experienced in providing support services within the Sustainable Surface Transport field and coordinating successful SSAs (SURFACE NET, TRANSMES, AUTOIN, EURO-TRANS and HUN-POL-TRANS). These SSAs provide services and/or develop tools for European organisations to enhance their participation in Sustainable Surface Transport activities;
- Star-Net transport Regional Nodes: a network of 14 local nodes that would benefit from the core group services so as to develop and enhance their competences and skills and thus provide optimal continuous support to organisations in their country;
- Star-Net transport Advisory Council: a network of European key players that would disseminate and promote the project activities on a political level, facilitating communication with the ETPs. Future coordinators of FP7-SST-SSAs proposals would be invited to join this group.
The STAR-NET TRANSPORT project encouraged, through development of a support network, European SMEs to participate in EU Framework Programme 7. Partners, including transport associations, consulting firms, EU National Contact Points (NCPs), industry clusters and universities, cooperated to raise awareness through local and international events, workshops and advance sessions. They also identified SME competencies and ideas through technical audits and by building and disseminating SME profiles. As a result, 30 proposals were submitted with the help of the STAR-NET TRANSPORT team.