European project PRESTO
Promoting the collaboration between SME associations and European Technology Platforms (ETP)
With the project PRESTO Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum aimed at facilitating the identification of priority research topics for small and medium sized enterprises associations - which in fact have a better capacity of influence than SMEs alone - by establishing a close and sustainable dialogue with ETPs.
In order to conduct the activities contemplated by the project, PRESTO addressed the construction sector and it devoted a specific focus on three construction-associated domains, namely: energy, information and communication technologies (ICT) and new materials.
Even though SME networks do already have influence on stakeholders on the European policy level, their opportunities to express the needs of their members and to pro-actively participate to the shaping of policies is still underdeveloped and restricted
Only a small number of SME associations are involved in the ETPs and in the definition process of European research priorities.
The approach of PRESTO:
The first part of the project was oriented towards the identification of both relevant SME associations as well as ETPs willing to collaborate with PRESTO. Afterwards PRESTO evaluated the research needs of SME associations in the addressed sectors. This was articulated in close dialogue with ETP representatives.
The PRESTO project partners worked on a strategy of how to set up a sustainable dialogue. The strategy has as one of its focal points the creation of SME associations Working Groups (WG) on ETPs. The main objective pursued by the establishment of such WGs is to increase the leverage of SME associations and, hence, to gain influence in the decision-making bodies of ETPs regarding the formulation and shaping of the ETPs\' Strategic Research Agendas (SRA).
Main goals of the project were:
- Identification of SME associations and ETPs in the building and construction sector,
- Formulation of an „implementation strategy“ for future collaboration,
- Implementation of a sustainable dialogue among the involved actors,
- Formation of Working Groups (WGs) of SME associations within ETPs.
The project, coordinated by Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum, was based on the profound knowledge and experience of qualified partner organisation from Germany, Spain, Poland, UK and Italy. All of the partners pursue the common aim of encouraging the innovative capacity of SMEs. The project ran from February 2008 to January 2010.