A two-day conference kicked off at Dublin Castle today to put the spotlight on entrepreneurship and how SMEs can access future support and funding, especially under the EU’s new Horizon 2020 programme.
This morning Minister for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock, TD, opened the EURO-SME conference at Dublin Castle, which is taking place as part of Ireland’s Presidency of the EU Council.
A key aim of the conference will be to home in Horizon 2020, the EU’s new research and innovation programmme that will start in 2014 with a proposed budget of €80bn.
At the two-day event, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, public and private SME support organisations will be thrashing out ideas on how to improve the EU ecosystem for SMEs.
In his opening address to the conference, Sherlock described SMEs as being the backbone of the Irish economy.
"By increasing their ability to innovate, we will drive job creation and economic growth," he said, adding that he is championing for an increase in the target for SME participation in Horizon 2020 from 15pc to 20pc.
"I am hopeful the Irish Presidency can achieve our target of gaining political agreement on Horizon 2020 during June," said Sherlock.
Dr Imelda Lambkin, the national director for FP7 at Enterprise Ireland, said that long-term growth and job creation will be delivered best through SMEs that can gain and sustain a competitive advantage through innovation.
"SMEs are the core of business activity in Europe and they need to exploit current trends to their advantage," explained Lambkin.