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SMEs innovate in a different way to larger firms. They command fewer resources, have less R and D, and they generally face more uncertainties and barriers to innovation. These weaknesses could partly be overcome by their integration into networks and innovation systems. Due to the fact that interactions of SMEs are often informal and trust based, the region should be an important interaction and support-space for the innovation activities of SMEs. According to the empirical findings of a European TSER project (SMEPOL) this was not fully confirmed: SMEs are less often engaged in innovation networks than larger firms and if they have innovation partnerships they are primarily concentrated on business partners. Because relations to science and technology transfer are rare, SMEs make only limited use of the full potential of their respective regional innovation systems.
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