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Secretary General speaks at breakfast debate on the importance of patents for SMEs  
The Secretary General took part in a breakfast debate on the potential of patents as innovative drivers for SMEs on 16 April 2018 that was hosted by MEP Paul Rübig and co-organised by the European Patent Office (EPO) and SME Europe, the EPP business association of small and medium European entrepreneurs. More than 40 participants discussed how EU policy-makers could raise SMEs' awareness of Intellectual Property (IP) and exchanged views on the expected benefits of the forthcoming Unitary Patent.

In his intervention, Mr Burianek informed the participants about the CoR's delivery of smart specialization support and its advice notably in cross border regions. He stressed the importance of an operational and affordable patent system for SMEs and endorsed further simplification efforts for financial support to SMEs including the cohesion funds. The Secretary General ended his statement by emphasizing that the CoR stands also available to consider any similar simplification and capacity building regional support strategy in the area of the SME patent process that forms an important building block of regional innovation and competitiveness.

The Unitary Patent is supposed to overcome the fragmentation of the current European patent system and to provide SMEs with access to a wider geographic protection in Europe. The new patent framework is expected to be operational early 2019.