EUREKA is an initiative that is independent from the European Commission’s framework programmes. EUREKA promotes cross-border cooperation projects to conduct market-oriented industrial research and development. The initiative aims to enhance European competitiveness.
EUREKA brings together knowledge about market-oriented research, development and implementation. By having companies, research institutes and universities work together on transnational projects, it is possible to bring innovative products, processes and services to the market.
In the EUREKA framework, European level research projects with clear market potential are devised and carried out according to the bottom-up principle. The initiative is particularly important for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which today constitute half of its partners. Thanks to EUREKA, they can carry out cross-border projects efficiently and take advantage of the benefits of international cooperation (networking, cost reduction and visibility). In addition, it becomes easier for them to access the European market.
Between 1985 and 2015, the public and private sector spent a total of around EUR 36 billion for over 5700 EUREKA projects. The number of new projects rose steadily from 50 in 1985 to roughly 300 in 2015. Since the start of the EUREKA initiative in 1985, the private sector has been involved in 70% of all EUREKA projects. During this time, the proportion of SMEs in the overall private sector participation rate has risen from 5% to 52%.
The pan-European network was founded as an intergovernmental initiative in 1985. Switzerland was a founding member of this non-profit organisation, which is subject to Belgian law. Today, EUREKA comprises 40 European members, three associated members in South Korea, Canada and South Africa, and the EU (represented by the European Commission).
To allow for improved needs assessment different markets, so-called cluster and umbrella initiatives and the Eurostars initiative were implemented into the EUREKA network. Clusters are long-term strategic industry initiatives and Umbrellas are thematic networks within EUREKA . Eurostars promotes cross-border projects of research-intensive SMEs with national funding and funding from the EU research framework.