What can Europe do for Birmingham based SMEs?

European projects can make a real difference to the work of Birmingham organisations, the competitiveness of Birmingham businesses and the lives of Birmingham’s citizens.

Over the last 25 years the city of Birmingham has benefitted from over £700 million of EU funding. We aim to build on this success through better identification of European opportunities and better alignment of Birmingham’s priorities.

In this article we focus on the opportunities that the EU offers to small businesses.

Europe and Business

Copyright by European Union

Copyright by European Union

SMEs in the EU represent 99% of all businesses in Europe, and are a key driver for economic growth, innovation, employment and social integration. The European Commission aims to promote successful entrepreneurship and improve the business environment for SMEs, to allow them to realise their full potential in today’s global economy.

What does the EU do?

The European Commission works on broad policy issues affecting entrepreneurship and SMEs across Europe, and assists SMEs through networks and business support measures. It helps existing and potential entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. Support for SMEs is available either directly or through programmes managed at national or regional level, such as the European Union’s Structural Funds. Birmingham based SMEs can benefit from the support of:

1. Enterprise Catalyst Programme funded through ERDF and managed by Birmingham City Council

Copyright by European Union

Copyright by European Union

2. COSME (Programme for the Competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs 2014-2020) is the successor to the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and has a much clearer focus on supporting SMEs and SME policy. COSME focuses on strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of EU enterprises and on encouraging an entrepreneurial culture. For more information about COSME please contact our colleagues at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce – email Sunny Claire: S.Claire@birmingham-chamber.com

Another port of call for SMEs is the Midlands’ office of the Enterprise Europe Network. They provide comprehensive support to SMEs from our region. Visit their website for updates on funding available to SMEs and forthcoming events. Currently, there are two events planned for SMEs promoting missions to countries outside the EU, i.e. China. See more here and here.

Copyright by European Union

Copyright by European Union

3. Horizon 2020 opens some interesting research and development opportunities for SMEs. The EC plans to increase the participation of SMEs in Horizon 2020 in order to speed up the time from idea to market significantly and to increase the participation of industry in research studies. An in-depth analysis of the role SMEs can play in the programme has been commissioned last year and is available here.

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce is currently organising a number of information events for SMEs encouraging them to participate in research and development projects. See events here and here.

The EU support is available in different forms such as grants, loans and, in some cases, guarantees. SMEs can also benefit from a series of non-financial assistance measures in the form of programmes and business support services. The European Small Business Portal gathers together all the SME-related information provided by the EU, ranging from practical advice to policy issues, from local contact points to networking links. http://ec.europa.eu/small-business/

Our role

Stuart_profile photoThe European and International Affairs team at BCC helps Birmingham organisations to understand the funding programmes that are available, identify opportunities and develop projects for European funding. We do regular updates on funding programmes and related policy developments and organise information events and workshops. We also help with networking and provide partner search opportunities. We work extensively with UK national contact points and the European Commission. Once a funding opportunity is identified, we can assist you with a review of ideas and advice on development of the project and the application.

For general enquiries about our EU funding support, contact: stuart.russon@birmingham.gov.uk