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Interview EUREKA: helping industry to find research funding

EMI interviewed the organisation EUREKA which is specialised in stimulating European innovation by helping private companies to find funding for Research & Development activities. Trying to find new possibilities to involve European regions and cities in their activities, EMI interviewed Katharina Lehmeier. She is a Technology Analyst at the EUREKA Secretariat . Her main responsibilities are to stimulate collaboration of EUREKA with other research organizations in Europe, enhancing the role of EUREKA’s thematic networks, also called Umbrellas. EUREKA brings together small and medium-sized enterprises, large industry, universities and research institutes to support them to develop new products, processes and services for the market, helping to increase Europe’s competitiveness.

How was EUREKA set up?

EUREKA was founded in 1985 as an intergovernmental initiative and now unites 39 member countries and also counts the European Union as its 40th member. Lehmeier: ´ to be clear, we are not a funding programme. EUREKA stimulates innovation by bringing together different partners. We advise these partners on how to apply for national and private innovation funding. Only our joint EUREKA-Commission Eurostars programme, tailored for SMEs, provides funds. We facilitate the start of the project and offer partners the possibility to publicize their projects and bring the innovation to the market.`

Could you give examples of products and initiatives EUREKA was involved in?

Lehmeier: ´the chip on your credit card was the result of a EUREKA  project. As was the MP3-music player and the software for films such as Avatar and Shrek. We have no thematic restrictions and are fully bottom-up. That enables us to facilitate projects relevant for a wide range of technological sectors, also urban life-related. For example on energy efficiency, smart cities and cultural heritage.´ Read more about EUREKA´s success stories.


How do you involve private companies in your activities?

Lehmeier: ´Through our Strategic Initiatives, such as the Umbrellas and also our Clusters, we organize events that address and involve industry interested and active in R&D and Innovation, offering matchmaking opportunities. These thematic events are stimulating the generation of projects between different actors in that field. In addition, the member country chairing EUREKA for a year may lay a thematic focus according to strategically important research areas.  Our Clusters, which are long-term, strategically significant public-private partnerships, are launching calls which are another opportunity to get involved.

How does EUREKA stimulate network activities between researchers and private companies?

Lehmeier: ´ EUREKA individual projects (and the Eurostars programme too) are a networking activity by nature. EUREKA also offers to find European collaboration partners, making use of its extensive network established in 25 years. Thus, we bring together partners of different countries and type of organizations. Of course, the activities mentioned above also facilitate networking and exchange. R&D&I performing companies are welcome to join the activities of our Umbrellas and Clusters.’

What do you recommend cities that want to get involved in EUREKA activities?

Lehmeier: ´I advise cities to subscribe to our newsletter E-Zine to stay up to date with our activities as well as consult regularly our Success Story page. Cities could also contact the national project coordinator in their country contact list to get informed about available opportunities. They could also follow the activities of our EUREKA Tourism Umbrella and other relevant EUREKA Clusters (i.e. Eurogia+, Celtic+  etc).’ 

image source: Suphakit73