7. Research, Innovation and Digitalisation

SMEs ready for the future!

The wealth of creativity and innovative ideas in the European Mittelstand ensures Europe’s competitiveness for decades. Therefore, small and medium-sized companies must be strengthened through better legal framework conditions, financial assistance and knowledge transfer in the field of innovation and research. In addition, the speed of progress of digital transformation is becoming faster. Only if competitive disadvantages for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are dismantled, innovations can truly be deployed more efficiently in practice and contribute to general economic growth.

ENSURE INNOVATION IN SMEs AND COMPLETE THE DIGITAL SINGLE MARKET

– Create EU-wide patent law

In order to open up the opportunities of innovation and research for the Mittelstand, a competitive patent law must be introduced at European level. Only if intellectual property is protected small and medium-sized firms can develop market advantages and benefit from innovation

– Securing investments – Expand Horizon Europe

The EU R&D program Horizon will be operative until the end of 2020 in order to promote innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises. This project must be extended on time and expanded. But the proportion of funds for SMEs for the promotion of innovation should be at least 20 percent of the total. This can only be done by maintaining the SME-Instrument as it is.

The introduction of the European Innovation Council has not been agreed with SMEs and shall not lead to open the SME-Instrument to other players like research centres and universities, or even worse “innovators” without legal status. Furthermore it needs new projects for innovation and research to be initiated by SMEs, because non-European innovation programs such as, for example, the American SBIR (“Small Business Innovation Research Program “) distort the competition between European and US companies.

– Enhance Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is the basis for a successful digitization. A large majority of companies benefits from digital innovations and builds its growth strategy on new technologies. Only if the European Union ensures a secure base, long-term success is possible.

– Set up a European Cloud for knowledge transfer

An open network structure should allow the free exchange of knowledge among all actors. The seamlessly interconnected services for analysis and reuse of research data creates innovation and strengthens Europe as a global business centre. Only if data can be exchanged cross-border, applications like Cloud Computing, Big Data or Industry 4.0 will be successful in Europe.

– AI as a forerunner in Europe

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and autonomous systems will bring disruptive changes also to the Mittelstand. We therefore need a strong European cooperation in the area of AI from 2021 onwards, exceeding the investments of 20 billion Euro by 2020. Workers – women and men – should in the long run benefit equally from European AI research.

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“If we want that Europe’s Small and Medium-sized companies continue to give their crucial contribution to the European economy, SMEs must stand in the centre of the EU’s policies for research, innovation and digitalisation. Only programmes that are explicitly directed to SMEs like the SME-Instrument has been from 2014-2020 (and which should be maintained as such), or the pilot project DigitaliseSME, allow to assure that European entrepreneurs are really benefiting in these fields.”

Ramon Masia Martì

President of SESCA (Spain)

European Parliament Elections on May 23-26th, 2019

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The biggest confederation of voluntarily associated, small and medium-sized companies in Europe.