The SURFACE NET project was an innovative action that built on proven methodologies and tools for developing a new approach for supporting the participation of SMEs from Candidate Countries in European research activities in the field of surface transport. The candidate countries involved were Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.
The project had the following main strategic objectives:
- to analyse the existing RDT capabilities of surface transport SMEs in Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey;
- to extract on a functional basis their key competence in areas relevant to the transport activity using a novel and simplified methodology technology assessment tool;
- disseminate the research results and support actions of Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) surface transport projects;
- identify ideas and provide support to surface transport SMEs integration on research consortia in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) Theme 7 'Transport', Sub-theme 'Surface transport', using a simplified methodology based on an online PC based tool;
- facilitate involvement of SMEs from Candidate Countries in a local event organised in each Candidate Country, which will attend seminars in 'how to perform an internal technology assessment?', 'how to write a competitive proposal?' and 'FP7 stepping into EU funding for innovation and competitiveness in surface transport';
- promote involvement of SMEs in the 57th UITP World Congress and Mobility & City Transport Exhibition that took place in Helsinki, Finland on 20-24 May 2007.
The main activities could be summarised as follows:
- identification of surface transport SMEs and their current situation;
- awareness activities to raise attention from SMEs;
- the organisation of the proposed workshops in each participating country;
- participation of SMEs from Candidate Countries, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, in the 57th UITP World Congress and Mobility & City Transport Exhibition.
The work was structured in WPs as follows:
- WP1 - Awareness activities to raise attention from SMEs;
- WP2 - Workshops in Candidate Countries and support to proposals preparation;
- WP3 - Dissemination and future exploitation results;
- WP4 - Management of the Specific Support Action.
The SURFACE NET project has been quite successful in achieving its objectives. First there were a significant number of organisations reached by the project activities. They had received updated information about the Theme 'Transport' in FP6 and FP7 and a set of tools to facilitate their entrance into the methodologies for submitting successful proposals. Their project ideas from the SMEs were also compiled and disseminated among the project network in order to match these ideas with ongoing FP6 projects and with the 'partner searches' being published by the coordinators of proposals under preparation.
The resulting collaborative network of SMEs and other entities related to the transport sector from the participating countries is now capable of converting their ideas into proposals. Some of these organisations are already engaged in actual ongoing FP7 calls.
In conclusion, the project coordinator and the local partners envisages in the near future an even further participation on the next FP7 calls on the Theme 'Transport' and expects that the impact of the project on those countries will last beyond the 'terminus' of the current project.