Technology Stimulation Measures for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

CRAFT - a general description

1.1 Summary
CRAFT Projects are designed especially for groups of SMEs needing extra competence and resources for research and development. The participating SMEs get research work carried out for them by the RTD Performers. The SMEs are the owners of the project results. One of the SMEs will have the role of project Co-ordinator.

1.2 CRAFT objectives and technical areas

CRAFT is an action programme with a special method of working. CRAFT is designed to enable groups of SMEs -with inadequate research and development capability of their own - to engage other parties to carry out research on their behalf.

A CRAFT Project is always carried out jointly by at least three SMEs. The research of the project has to be in line with the general objectives of one of the following four thematic programmes:

  1. Quality of life and management of living resources

  2. User-friendly Information Society

  3. Competitive and Sustainable Growth

  4. Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development

A CRAFT Project is based on the needs of a group of SMEs - the SME Proposers. The research work carried out on their behalf in the project is performed by a group of researchers - the RTD Performers.

1.3 General conditions for CRAFT

What SMEs can participate?

CRAFT is open to all SMEs established in the Member States and Associated States of the EU. An eligible SME is an enterprise which:

  • has no more than 250 employees

  • has an annual turnover less than 40 million euro or

  • has an annual balance-sheet of a total not exceeding 27 million euro

  • is not more than 1/4 owned by one or more non-SMEs except an investment/venture capital company that does not exercise control.

  • is not a research centre, research institute, contract research organisation or a consultancy.

What is the typical consortium for a CRAFT project?

The consortium can be constructed with great flexibility depending on what is needed for the project.. This is how projects in previous programmes have been constructed:

  • number of SMEs: 4-20 (7 on average). You should have at least 5 in case one of them drops out.

  • average number of research performers: 3

  • horizontal (several SMEs in the same sector) or vertical (suppliers-manufacturers-users) consortia.

When performing the work funded by an Exploratory Award the number of SMEs has usually been 2-5 (3 on average).

For further information on the CRAFT consortia, see sections 2 and 5.

Financial conditions

When participating in a CRAFT Project, SMEs get research work carried out for them by RTD Performers. SMEs contribute to the project budget mainly in the form of working time, travel cost and cost of materials. SMEs can receive funding from the EU up to a sum equivalent to 10 % of the total costs of the project.

For a typical CRAFT Project, the average contribution from an SME is 50 000 euro (based on 6 participating SMEs and a total cost of 700 000 euro).

For a typical Exploratory Award each company contributes 10 000 euro, of which 75 % is paid by the EU. (based on 3 participating SMEs, a budget of 30 000 euro and the maximum award of 22 500 euro). Part of the work is often carried out by external experts and consultants.

For further information on financial conditions, see section 3.

Who is the owner of the project results?

A CRAFT Project should always be based on the needs of the SMEs participating in the project. Consequently, the SMEs of a CRAFT Project are the owners of the results. For further information on legal conditions, please see section 5.

What SMEs are the most suitable for participation?

CRAFT is most suitable for SMEs who:

  • have a clear interest in international collaboration beyond the R&D project and its immediate results

  • have a well-established business strategy and/or business plan

  • have a good knowledge of their own market and those of competitors

  • have limited or no research and development resources.

  • are already exporting or looking for new business opportunities.

  • have the ability to communicate in English

  1. For the SME Co-ordinator it is important to have enough resources and experience for the management of the project. The co-ordination can be subcontracted to a third party (i.e. not someone within the consortium).

How can an SME be a partner in a CRAFT Project?

There are many ways for an SME to become a partner in a CRAFT Project:

  • by contacting the national CRAFT Focal Point

  • by using the EU database CORDIS

  • by contacting the SME Help-desk (