Composite materials containing thin Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) wires show great promise as materials able to adapt their shape, thermal behaviour or vibrational properties during service. Tools for designing such materials are however far from being available. The work presented here reports the main achievements of a concerted European effort towards the establishment of a fundamental understanding for manufacturing and design of SMA composites. The following major steps are examined: selection and characterisation of the material constituents, development of manufacturing processes for the production of composites with pre-strained SMA wires, analysis and modelling of the action of the SMA wires in the composite, the contribution of the SMA-resin interface, analysis and modelling of the functional, thermomechanical, impact and durability properties of SMA composites and the development of a simple, large-scale, aerodynamic model. It is argued that the achievements of this research have brought the knowledge on SMA composites to a substantially higher level enabling reliable manufacturing and design, and the emergence of new industrial applications.