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Anderson questions EU Commissioner on SME funding

16 January, 2013 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson was in Strasbourg this week to question Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science on the benefits available to Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s) through the new Horizon 2020 assistance programme.

Martina Anderson said:

“I had a very useful exchange-of-views with Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn this week to discuss the Horizon 2020 programme which is the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and which will operate from 2014 until 2020.

“Horizon 2020 with an anticipated €80 billion budget is the EU’s new programme for research and innovation aimed at creating new growth and jobs across Europe.

“I believe that there is great potential on an all-Ireland basis for SME’s to develop Research and Development activities. Sinn Féin has been arguing for a more joined up approach in this area by Dublin and Belfast.

“Just 424 companies out of a business base of 70,000 companies in the North of Ireland draw down R&D funding from Europe. Many SME’s have no awareness of their eligibility or of how to avail of opportunities. Invest NI could learn much through cooperation with Enterprise Ireland about accessing EU funding.  But it is not only SME’s that are missing out on available funding streams.

“In recent years for example while the North as a whole drew down approximately £36 million for R&D out of the billions available 75% of this went to the two Universities with Queens accessing 75% of the university draw down, demonstrating the lost EU funding by the University of Ulster – including Magee Campus. There is obvious potential to draw down much more than the North has done to date, by both SME’s and the Educational sector.

 “We have partner universities and SME organisations in the South and it is essential that we collaborate with them to ensure maximum benefits across the island from Horizon 2020. We need a comprehensive and co-ordinated all -Ireland approach to promote R&D if we are to realise our potential to draw down funds and promote economic development across the island.

“Sinn Féin has long highlighted the need to cut red tape for SME’s and to simplify rules and procedures. Horizon 2020 does just that, providing major simplification through a single set of rules and combining all research and innovation funding currently provided through present Framework Programmes for R&D

“Given the reduced funding for business support by both Coalition governments in London and Dublin it is essential that we maximise the support from this EU programme.  There are tremendous opportunities for improvement through fully developing an all-Ireland approach to these funding proposals. I will host an information Seminar in Derry on January 25th with a number of speakers with expertise in accessing EU programmes. Full details will be available in the next week”

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