R&D cooperation and innovation networks: lessons from SME participation in H2020





small and medium-sized enterprises, Higher Education Institutions, framework programme, collaborative r&d


Portuguese SMEs are ‘catching-up’ to the European Commission’s goal of 20% for SME participation in H2020, representing16,7% of allocated funds.. Previous R&D experience, and especially R&D cooperation, have been identified as key determinants of participation in Framework Programmes, such as H2020. Thus, it is important to know SMEs that engage in these experiences and the drivers that lead them to it. This paper seeks to identify why and how SMEs gain collaborative experience with HEIs; what are the organizational characteristics that foster collaboration; the types  of experiences in which SMEs are engaged with HEIs; the obstacles they face when applying for FP funding, and how these can be overcome. Lastly, we aim to draw lessons that foster SMEs’ participation in Framework Programmes. To achieve these goals, we conducted a survey with SMEs that collaborate with HEIs (N = 26), including SMEs that participated in H2020 and SMEs that didn’t. We then complemented the survey with six in-depth qualitative interviews with both FP participants and non-participants.