SMEs can do more | T.Zalewski, A. Salabura

SMEs can do more | T.Zalewski, A. Salabura

In 2018, Polish enterprises will be able to draw on many sources of operational support in the form of project co-financing. Particular priority and attention will be given to support smaller SME sector companies, which stand to benefit from support addressed to many aspects of their operations, such as research and development work and its application, or expansion into foreign markets and brand promotion. These SME dedicated instruments have been engineered to enable the smaller enterprises to significantly strengthen their market position and thereby support their further development.


Grants for R&D work

As early as March 2018, the National Centre for Research and Development will announce a new call for proposals under Sub-measure 1.1.1. Industrial research and development works conducted by enterprises, within OP Smart Growth, for co-financing of research and development projects. Grants to SMEs can range from between 35 and 80 per cent of R&D expenditures. This support will be provided for projects that constitute industrial research or experimental development work. Moreover, SMEs can apply for co-financing of advisory services related to pre-implementation work (support level of 50 per cent), including pre-implementation work provided as part of de minimis aid (support level of 90 per cent). In 2018, no competitions for projects implemented in the Mazowieckie Voivodship are anticipated under the Fast Track.

As part of the Fast Track for SMEs, two calls for proposals are planned in 2018: from 1 March to 30 May 2018, and from 16 August to 14 December 2018. The minimum value of eligible costs per project has been set at PLN 1 million. In addition, Seal of Excellence certificate holders among companies in the SME sector may submit their applications for co-financing between 3 April and 28 December 2018.

Support for the implementation of major R&D projects deemed important for the development of respective industries or economic sectors will also be available under measure 1.2 Sectoral R&D programmes within OP Smart Growth.

Application of R&D

SMEs may also receive co-financing related to the implementation of research and development works as well as to the technological innovations resulting from research and development. Support will be provided for projects that involve the introduction of new or significantly improved products (goods or services) on the market. SME sector entities will have the opportunity to apply for co-financing under:

Sub-measure 3.2.1. Research for the market, within OP Smart Growth (call for proposals – 20 March to 5 December 2018)

Sub-measure 3.2.2. Technology innovation credit, within OP Smart Growth (call for proposals – 15 February to 24 May 2018)

The “Research for the market” competition pertains to co-financing for project-related capital expenditures, advisory services and experimental development works. The minimum value of eligible costs per project is PLN 5 million in the case of micro and small-sized enterprises and PLN 10 million in the case of medium-sized enterprises. One important change benefitting applicants, which distinguishes this call for proposals from previous ones, is the possibility to obtain co-financing for the implementation of R&D work commissioned from an external entity. The maximum co-financing amount per project is PLN 20 million, including PLN 450,000 for development works and PLN 500,000 for advisory services.

Within the “Technology innovation credit” envelope, co-financing can be used toward partial repayment of a loan for investment in technology. The technologies implemented as part of an eligible project may include industrial property rights, development work results, industrial research results and unpatented technical knowledge, which enable the production of goods, processes or services that are either new or significantly improved compared to those previously manufactured on the territory of the Republic of Poland. The maximum co-financing amount per project is PLN 6 million.

Other support options

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises operating their businesses on the territory of Eastern Poland, i.e. in the Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Podlaskie, Świętokrzyskie, Lubelskie and Podkarpackie Voivodships, as confirmed by an inscription in the relevant register no later than 12 months before the date of submission of a co-financing application, can also obtain support to expand their operations into foreign markets. The Polish Agency for Enterprise Development announced a competition under measure 1.2 Internationalisation for SMEs, within OP Development of Eastern Poland, which was divided into two rounds of recruitment, i.e. the first call for proposals running from 27 February to 29 March 2018 and the second from 30 July to 4 September 2018. The support grants will go to comprehensive, individual and customer-tailored projects involving the development and preparation to launch new business models related to the internationalisation of the applicant's activities. The maximum level of co-financing granted under de minimis aid is 85 per cent of the project value and up to PLN 800,000.

Under Sub-measure 3.3.3 within OP Smart Growth, SME sector entities may also obtain support for the promotion of brands (for both goods and services) deemed to have the potential to gain recognition on international markets. The call for proposals will be open from 4 April to 8 May 2018. Enterprises may apply for grants of up to PLN 850,000 to participate in trade fairs, exhibitions, business missions or foreign conferences, as well as to cover the costs of advisory services related to the introduction of the company on foreign markets.

Co-financing will also be available to pay for services commissioned from scientific research entities that contribute to product development (of goods and services); this will take the form of an innovation voucher under Sub-measure 2.3.2. within OP Smart Growth. Regional Operational Programmes also organise special competitions dedicated to SMEs, which are also certainly worthy of attention.

Tomasz Zalewski – Manager in the Grants & Incentives Team
Adrian Salabura – Consultant in the Grants & Incentives Team

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