While the aeronautics industry tends to be dominated by major corporations, hundreds of specialised small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across Europe provide the sector with essential applications and bespoke technologies.

The Aerospace Sector is under an unprecedented growth as well as turbulent evolution. Restructuring, mergers and acquisitions take place literally on a daily basis. At the same time, shrinking defence budgets lead many suppliers to shift their interest to the civil aerospace market. Within this rapidly evolving supply chain landscape, SMEs are called to make strategic decisions and take financial and research risks, often disproportional to their available resources. That’s why FP7 helped and H2020 will continue to support European Aerospace SMEs.

The Aeronautics Program in FP7 succeeded in raising the SME participation to 18% (551 SME participants out of a total 3087), while the EU contribution to Aeronautics SMEs reached 13,6% of the total (135,9 M€).

EU, FP7funded project SME-AERO-POWER (‘Empowering European Aeronautical SMEs to Participate in EU Research’) has made significant progress in helping these smaller businesses get better access to research funding.

Exploiting the full potential of this pool of talent is crucial to ensuring European aeronautics remains at the cutting edge and is competitive.

Long lead times, high costs and a preference by big companies to deal with tried-and-tested aeronautics suppliers can work against small companies. Many SMEs have limited financial resources, and face serious challenges in accessing and benefiting from pan-European research programmes because of their size.

The project aims to boost SME participation in innovative collaborations by bringing various players together and improving their ability to win EU funding.

These goals are being achieved through training, providing guidance on writing competitive bids, giving access to an EU-wide network of SMEs, using web-based collaboration support tools, and promoting topics of importance to the European aeronautics sector.

The project also sought to increase SME participation in sustainable development programmes for the aviation sector, and has created an organisation that will make recommendations to the Commission on emerging issues.

This innovation was made possible by Israel’s continued participation in the official Horizon 2020 fund, managed in Israel by ISERD part of The Israel Innovation Authority (Formerly the Office of the Chief Scientist and MATIMOP). The initiative has taken Israeli R&D to the next level with the help of ground-breaking collaboration between scientists in Israel and Europe, as well as essential funding and support.

Project details
Project acronym: SME-AERO-POWER
Participants: Israel (Coordinator), UK, Italy, Poland, Spain, Germany
Proj. N° 285174
Total costs: € 531 860
EU contribution: € 473 744
Duration: July 2011 – september 2013