SME Manifesto: Driving Growth for European Innovators

Supporting Open Standards and Innovation

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A statement of policy, aims and practical support for European SMEs who invest in innovation: empowering these economically vital companies so they can help Europe become the world’s leading digital economy.

European Union institutions, lawmakers and business groups can effect real change and deliver much-needed support for Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in three core areas.

1. Ensuring Fair Access to Justice (Appendix A, B and D)

  • Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) must be strongly protected and respected in all jurisdictions.
  • European Union institutions and their Member States need to promote and ensure a fair, fit-for-purpose legal system so that SMEs can protect their hard-won inventions and cost effectively challenge those who infringe their patents and profit from their inventions, notably large companies, without taking a license.
  • Guarantees and bonds required from practicing SMEs seeking injunctions against large companies should not be prohibitive, and all courts in Europe should have discretion to determine bonds that do not deprive SMEs from their access to justice.
  • Pro-SME measures, including easier access to Courts and reduced fees, must be made available in all jurisdictions to ensure any litigation and costs supported by SMEs to protect their R&D investments, are not beyond their financial reach.
  • The European Commission is urged to implement – without delay – the non-legislative supporting measures in its communication Putting intellectual property at the service of SMEs to foster innovation and growth.

2. Better Financing and Loan Guarantees For IPR-Intensive Innovators (Appendix C)

  • Helping SMEs qualify for EU funding and loan guarantees: ensuring a recognised valuation method is established - the IP Value and Innovation (IPVI) Index - to assess IP assets held by organisations that seek funding from their banks under InnovFin and SMEG EU financial instruments.
  • This Index needs to be developed in partnership with key stakeholders that include the European Investment Bank, innovative SMEs, venture capitalists and business patent experts.
  • This process could include a Horizon 2020 competitive open call to deliver empirical and scientific validation and other tools for use by banks and SMEs.
  • The EU should extend the coverage of the InnovFin and SMEG guarantees from 50% to 80% of bank loans.

3. Innovation Incentives: R&D Tax Credits and Support for Open Technology Standards

  • The EU needs to promote innovation incentives and R&D tax credits best practices: meaningful financial incentives focused on Research & Development have to be available for smaller entities and must provide an equivalent tax break for every euro invested in R&D. (Appendix C)
  • Studying existing successful models e.g. Crédit Impôt Recherche and Jeunes Entreprises Innovantes in France, which promote R&D investment and employment, will inform new and more effective approaches.
  • The EU should support in all forums its successful system of open technology standards based on licensing on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory terms (FRAND) - one that rewards investment in innovation and ensures access to the best in class open technologies for all.
  • Funded ‘IP pre-diagnostic services’ need to be made available to help SMEs access and use Intellectual Property and facilitate their participation in the development of open technology standards (e.g. IoT, 5G). (Appendix D)


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