Small manufacturers are key targets in the latest round of research funding offered by the the European Commission (EC).
Only 13% of expenditure on collaborative projects under the EC's Framework research programmes has gone to small firms in the past, against a budget of 15%.
"We are on an upswing but have a lot still to do and need to identify the problems with industrial participation," said Christian Patermann, director for agro-food and biotech research within the EC's research directorate.
This month the EC publishes its third call for project proposals under Framework Six, for a research pot worth around euro 360m over the next two years. Euro 402m has already been committed under Framework Six for food quality and safety research, including euro 192m of grants announced this month.
The latter will support 31 projects and 'networks of excellence' and 13 small projects on consumer issues. The work includes traceability, contaminants, emerging pathogens, diseases in animals and crops, food allergy and obesity.