Eurostars is European programme to make European SMEs internationally competitive leaders of their industry.
Eurostars, a joint program with 36 participating countries, is part of the international Eureka cooperation and is managed by the Eureka Secretariat in Brussels. The project participants invariably come from at least two Eurostars countries. The evaluation of the applications is centralized and conducted following common criteria. Business Finland is the funding body for Finnish applicants.
For SMEs that are Business Finland's customers and in the process of internationalization, the close-to-market projects conducted under the Eurostars program are an excellent option for channelling new collaboration opportunities. Eurostars participants receive strong support for the growth of their company, find new markets and get the opportunity to grow their business.
The international project consortium must be led by an innovative SME. The consortium is usually composed of entities from two or three Eurostars countries, but larger consortiums are also accepted. Research organizations, universities and large companies are also accepted as project partners. The expenses of the SMEs must be dominant in the total project budget, and subcontracting costs are excluded from the budget shares of SMEs for the calculation.
The funding for Finnish participants is provided by Business Finland. The funding is aid which is primarily aimed at SMEs and mid-cap companies (turnover less than EUR 300 million). The participants must be growth companies seeking international growth; they must be financially in good shape and have financial capacity to run the development project. It is advisable to contact Business Finland before submitting the application.
Consortiums may submit applications to the Eurostars program from any subject area. There are two cut-off dates annually, and all the applications submitted before each deadline are processed in one batch.
The leader of the project consortium files an application in the Eurostars system, and all the project participants fill in their own part. The project in its entirety is evaluated at Eurostars by independent international experts, based on the data submitted through the application.
An international evaluation panel, composed of experts from research and business, evaluates the applications and assigns a ranking to them. The projects that pass the evaluation will become real once national funding for all the project participants has been confirmed. Business Finland makes the funding decision for Finnish applicants in accordance with the levels of support, and the funding terms and conditions applied within the program.
The duration of the evaluation and funding process is three to four months.
The funding is provided as aid under special Eurostars terms.
Innovative growth companies accepted by Business Finland are granted 50% aid in the case of SMEs, and 40% aid in the case of mid-cap companies with a turnover of less than EUR 300 million. For other R&D-performing organizations like large companies, the level of support is 40%, and the company-specific maximum aid is EUR 60,000. Universities and research organizations can also receive funding from Business Finland. The level of support is 70%, and the maximum aid is EUR 70,000 per organization. If at least two R&D-performing Finnish SMEs or mid-cap companies accepted by Business Finland are participating, the maximum aid is EUR 140,000.
The maximum duration of the projects is three years, and the results are expected to enter the market within two years of the project completion.
Thousands of European SMEs have already received support from the Eurostars program for product and service development over the last 13 months. The program is funded by the EU and 36 Eurostars countries. There are several Eurostars countries outside of the EU as well, such as Turkey and Canada.