Up to €400,000 available for projects supporting SMEs in public procurement outside the EU

Submitted by Lee Gibson on 02 July 2020

Cluster organisations are among those eligible to apply for a grant of up to €400,000 to help European SMEs participate in public procurement outside the European Union (EU).

Public procurement, both inside and outside the EU, can generate considerable business opportunities for European SMEs, but many are not taking full advantage of the opportunities in non-EU countries.

The call for proposals Supporting European SMEs to participate in public procurement outside EU has now been launched to help address this issue under the EU’s Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) programme.

This call for proposals, the first of this kind, aims to improve SMEs’ access to public procurement in non-EU countries with which the EU has signed a bilateral or plurilateral agreement covering public procurement.

Projects that help SMEs seize opportunities stemming from an easier access to public procurement in international markets can contribute to economic growth, as well as support the internationalisation of European companies and their global competitiveness. These goals are especially important in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Access to non-EU public procurement markets was negotiated by the EU through the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) or via bilateral free trade agreements. According to the WTO Secretariat, the international business opportunities covered by the GPA amount to $1.7 trillion annually. 

A total budget of €2 million is available to select up to five projects, which will benefit from a grant to cover 75% of their eligible costs and up to a maximum of €400,000.

The selected consortia will carry out a broad range of activities, such as creating awareness raising tools, providing overall training and advisory services, exchanging good practices, organising matchmaking, etc. and projects must be structured in two phases:

  • a preparatory phase to develop an internationalisation strategy through public procurement; and
  • an implementation phase of the internationalisation strategy to gather data, promote the project and disseminate results.

Eligible Applicants

Applicants must be legal entities forming a consortium composed by at least three partners from three different EU Member States and other COSME participating countries. At least two partners of the consortium shall be from EU Member States. Natural persons are not eligible.

Applicants have to be representing business support organisations (Chambers of Commerce, federations, etc.), cluster organisations, non-profit organisations (private or public), public bodies (national, regional, local), universities or educational institutions and research centres.

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