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The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has today launched a new £400,000 funding scheme that could help a minimum of 80 Scottish small to medium enterprises (SMEs) break into the European research market.

The Horizon 2020 SME Engagement Scheme intends to support SMEs to explore Horizon 2020 European research funding opportunities with the assistance of Scottish universities. The new voucher scheme provides between £1,000 and £5,000 of support for each project and is based on SFC’s Innovation Voucher Scheme, which has already helped hundreds of Scottish SMEs access Scottish universities’ research and academic expertise to develop new products, processes, and services. Under the new scheme, each SME’s proposed programme of activity should lead to applications for Horizon 2020 funding that will benefit the business and the Scottish economy.

Laurence Howells, Interim Chief Executive of SFC explains: “This scheme makes it easier for SMEs to apply for these research funds by enabling them to tap into our universities experience and expertise, meet with potential European partners, and by offsetting some of the cost of applying for funding.

“The European Union has a €70 billion budget for 2014-20 to support research and innovation. This scheme will help Scottish SMEs and universities to work together to exploit this opportunity to fund research, development, and innovation, thereby developing their business and improving Scotland’s economy.”

Professor Peter Downes, Chair of the Interface Advisory Board and Principal and Vice-Chancellor University of Dundee added: “I am delighted to welcome the launch of the Horizon 2020 SME Engagement Scheme, administered by the team at Interface, which will provide Scottish business and University partnerships the opportunity to explore cross collaboration through competitive European funding calls.

“The Horizon 2020 SME Engagement Scheme will allow the exploration of partnerships to tackle societal challenges by helping to bridge the gap between research and the market, supporting innovative enterprises to develop their technological breakthroughs into viable products with real commercial potential.”

All SMEs registered in Scotland, including social enterprises, are eligible to collaborate with a Scottish university under the scheme. The Engagement Scheme will be administered by Interface – the knowledge connection for business.

Full details, including the revised guidelines and application forms can be found here.