Тhe Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria, with the support of the Commission and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) launched the new EU SME Fund, which offers vouchers for EU-based SMEs to help them protect their intellectual property (IP) rights. This is the second EU SME Fund aiming at supporting SMEs in the COVID-19 recovery and green and digital transitions for the next three years (2022-2024).
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Small is beautiful, but if SMEs want to grow or take the lead in new technologies, they need to protect their inventions and creations, as big companies do. New ideas and expertise are the main added value we have in the EU. With this Fund, we want to support SMEs to face those peculiar times and remain strong and innovative through the decades to come.”
Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “It goes without saying that SMEs have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. But what does not change is that they remain the backbone of our economy, of our ecosystems. This Fund will support SMEs to valorise their innovations and creativity. And this is crucial for SMEs to recapitalise and drive the green and digital transitions.”
The EU SME Fund, with a budget of €47 million, will offer the following support:
SMEs need a flexible intellectual property toolbox and quick financing to protect their innovations. Hence, for the first time the new EU SME Fund is now also covering patents. The Commission's financial contribution, which amounts to €2 million, will be dedicated fully to the patent related services. For instance, an SME could apply for the reimbursement of the registration fee to patent its invention in a Member State.
EUIPO will manage the SME Fund through calls for proposals. The first call is launched today on the EUIPO website.
In order to ensure fair and equal treatment of potential beneficiaries as well as safeguarding an efficient management of the action, the application for grants will be open throughout the period 2022-2024. The applications will be examined and evaluated based on a ‘first in first out' criterion. SMEs with no experience in the area of intellectual property are encouraged to apply first for an IP Scan service and only subsequently to the other services.
At the EU Industry Days (8-11 February 2022) a special session will be dedicated to the SME Fund allowing SMEs to ask questions of the experts managing the Fund and receiving a practical guide on how to apply for the different services. The special session is scheduled for 11 February 2022. It can be followed remotely by subscribing to the EU Industry Days.
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