SMEs hampered by red tape surrounding EU innovation grants  

British SMEs are being hampered by the time-consuming bureaucracy surrounding EU research and innovation grants

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are being severely hampered by the time-consuming bureaucracy surrounding research and innovation grants from the EU, according to a House of Lords report.

The Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment EUSub-Committee report followed an inquiry into the effectiveness of EU research and innovation proposals.

Chairman of the committee Baroness O’Cathain said: “If research and innovation is to drive future economic growth across Europe, the Commission must ensure that everyone can get involved, that time and the application process are no barrier to participation, and that the system builds in flexibility to take into account the wide spectrum of interested stakeholders.

“Only by making participation in research and innovation projects as accessible as possible can we make any headway in ensuring that Europe’s best ideas and developments are discovered, funded and eventually benefit all member states.”

The committee is also encouraging the government to continue its review of support structures for UK businesses that want to participate in EU-funded projects but have difficulty in doing so, due to their modest size and the complexity of the application process, she said.

“Having conducted our inquiry against the backdrop of the Europe 2020 [growth] strategy, which is designed to support growth and jobs, we remain convinced that the government has a vital role to play in continuing to help SMEs access research and innovation funding and to collaborate in EU-wide projects," said O'Cathain.

“The EU must also look at how they can make the process easier for the SMEs to get involved in these projects, given the challenges they may face in terms of size and resource," she added.

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