Eurostars is a program based on Article 185 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union designed, established and managed by the EUREKA initiative through its own Secretariat in Brussels. It is aimed at supporting industrial research of small- and medium-sized European enterprises (SMEs) capable to perform research activities on their own.

Thirty-three EUREKA Member Countries including Italy participate in Eurostars, providing human and financial resources. These countries also agreed to provide the necessary financial resources to fund R&D projects selected among those submitted to the periodic calls launched by the Initiative.

Eurostars’ main objectives are:

  • Encourage SMEs to develop new businesses based on the results of R&D projects;
  • Create an international network to support research activities of SMEs;
  • Help SMEs to quickly develop new products, processes and services for market;
  • Contribute to achieving the Lisbon goals of competitiveness by activating processes, innovation, economic development and employment.


The Eurostars programme keeps the bottom-up approach and all the typical characteristics of EUREKA projects. Therefore, there are no privileged areas and only military applications are excluded.

The main characteristics of a Eurostars project are as follows:

  • it must be an innovative R&D project aimed at developing an innovative product, process or service to be marketed;
  • it must be jointly conducted by at least two different subjects of two different nations;
  • the project leader must be an innovative SME and at least half of the project costs must be borne by innovative SMEs. An SME is considered innovative if it invests at least 10% of its turnover or uses at least 10% of its staff in R&D.


The total cost of the program is € 800 million for 7 years (2007-2013), 12.5% of which will be covered by the Commission, 37.5% from National Funds and the remaining 50% by firms. The European Commission has allocated a total amount of € 100 million.

Italy contributes to the program with an amount of € 5 million per year with funds provided by the Ministry of Education, University and Research. The Eurostars project coordination is managed by an expert from ENEA.