Benefits and barriers of an enterprise's participation in publicly funded R&D projects. The example of Swiss enterprises in the field of renewable energy
This thesis studies the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in publicly funded research and development (R&D) projects. SMEs represent 99% of all companies in Europe and are important drivers of innovation, yet many lack the necessary resources to engage in formal research activities. Providing these firms with the possibility to make use of public funding programmes for R&D projects therefore constitutes a way of stimulating them to innovate. Reviews of such programmes, however, show that SME participation is frequently lower than desired by policy makers. This raises the question of the benefits SMEs can gain from such projects and the barriers that negatively influence their ability to participate. The author hypothesises that taking part in publicly funded R&D projects can positively influence an SME’s competitiveness through a specific set of advantages gained from participation. The second hypothesis is that companies with previous experience in such projects evaluate their participation positively. Finally, the author puts forward that a number of specific barriers limit SMEs’ ability to participate. The hypotheses were tested by means of an online survey among Swiss SMEs in the field of renewable energy, as well as interviews with representatives of national and EU funding bodies. The results support all three hypotheses and confirm the importance of the public measures. Participation in publicly funded R&D projects can indeed have positive impacts on an SME’s competitiveness. Also, companies tend to evaluate their participation positively. SMEs with previous experience in such projects were well-informed about the specifics of a participation prior to filing an application, whereas a substantial lack of information exists on the part of companies without previous experience. This study adds to the existing pool of literature on SME competitiveness, and through its narrow focus addresses a very specific area where little research has been conducted to date. As such, the thesis is of relevance to the business, research, and political communities.
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Accessed October 2010 activities Anglia Ruskin University Applied Sciences Northwestern Available online benefits of participation biomass Cambridge & Chelmsford cogeneration collaboration companies with previous company’s competitive advantage conditions of participation Contingency table costs of participation DG Research Communication dynamic capabilities EC DG Research EC European Commission EUREKA Secretariat Eurostars field of renewable firm’s Framework Programme funded project funded R&D projects funding bodies funding options funding programmes gained from participation geothermal energy Hydropower important industry Kaar SME participation Lisbon Strategy Manuel Kaar SME Northwestern Switzerland School Office of Energy OPET organisations participation in publicly Photovoltaics previous experience prior to participation publicly funded R&D renewable energy Research Communication Unit resource-based view respondents results for question Ruskin University Cambridge School of Business Sciences Northwestern Switzerland SFOE Swiss Federal SNSF statements 1-3 Swiss Federal Department Swiss Federal Office Swiss SMEs Table thesis University of Applied Unternehmen wind energy