Micro-, Small- and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs) are precisely defined at the EU level. By definition, smaller enterprises do not usually have all necessary resources in-house to cope with all possible situations and problems encountered. This is of course even more true if the company is new. We can say that helping smaller companies is one the main rationale for building cluster organisations. Common problems and issues can be solved jointly between several companies, or the experience of one company can be used to solve the problems of a maybe younger company.
Basically all our projects, both European and national, are addressing the question of how SMEs can get efficient support and help. Nearly all of them help SMEs to find business partners and customers through events and other linkage activities. Our EU project RespiceSME has for sure the strongest focus on providing help to SMEs (and in fact help photonics clusters to help SMEs). That project helps SMEs to analyse their innovation potential and find a way to improve it using well-defined and proven tools. It helps them finding a support from research and Technology organisations (RTOs). It also strives for helping SMEs to make a complete value-chain analysis in order to identify gaps to be filled and weak links to replaced or secured. Our new project EPRISE is aiming at connecting to regions and connecting regions between each others. In the Photonics Roadshow, which will consist of 7 workshops in different European cities, a dedicated support will be provided through experts to companies willing to improve their business or come into the life science markets. EPRISE will also increase the visibility of SMEs in regions of 8 EU countries by highlighting the photonics of these regions. Eventually the goal is to convince regions to engage in inter-regional collaborations involving SMEs by combining regional, national and EU funds.
Even our national project Competence hub Photonics aiming at inventorying the photonics field in Sweden is increasing the visibility of photonics SMEs and provides a complement to the analysis of the Swedish Photonics realised for the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda from 2011 to 2013.
Joint marketing is a good example of service that photonics clusters can provide to their SMEs. It is obviously a big step to go international for smaller companies and significantly easier to be part of an organised delegation trip than doing it self. Another example is the realisation of marketing brochures gathering information about several companies. You find such an example with the brochure that we produced about the Swedish biophotonics in 2015 in the framework of the OASIS project.