Call for Applications: Western Balkans Innovation Vouchers

29-04-2024 11:26

1. What are the “Western Balkans Innovation Vouchers”?

Western Balkans Innovation Vouchers (IV) are a simple direct financial incentive used by companies to cover part of the costs of the services provided by research and development (R&D) organisations, thus intensifying the volume and dynamics of the development of products and services as well as their placement on the market. The development of new products and services is directly related to the innovation process. IV are a way to enable the transfer of knowledge and to contribute to the creation of long-term partnerships between companies and R&D. The goal of the IV is to encourage cooperation between enterprises and academic and scientific research institutions in the direction of implementing innovation activities; thus, the enterprises will increase their competitiveness.

2.  Who can apply?

Legal business entity registered as a micro, small or medium-sized company (users of the IVs) and registered in any of the WB economies (at least 51% privately owned), incorporated under the current respective company law.

The company must be a legal business entity incorporated under the respective current WB company law, registered at any WB Business Registration Agency and located in the WB. If the newly established companies are not classified as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, based on the data of the WB Business Registration Agency at the moment of considering the application for an IV, they can be users of IV provided that they guarantee that, on the day of signing of the contract for the IV, they are classified as micro, small or medium-sized enterprise.

3. Financial aspects of the IVs

The total budget for awarding funds through IV for this public call is EUR 240,000. A single voucher can cover up to a maximum of 80% (eighty percent) of the total costs of a service provided by the HEI/PRO, up to an amount of EUR 8,000 excluding value-added tax (VAT). The recipient of the voucher is obliged to co-finance the remaining amount of the total costs of the service, which is at least 20% of the total amount of the invoice, including VAT of the total costs. The recipient  of the voucher is obliged to finance all transportation and legal costs (if applicable) for cross-border delivery of prototypes, samples, etc.

 3.1. Service Provider Eligibility Criteria

Eligible entities are the public sector Higher Education Institutions (HEI) or public sector R&D organisations (PROs) (at least 51% directly or indirectly state-owned), registered in any of the WB economies, incorporated under the current respective law on Higher Education Institutions and/or PROs and accredited by the relevant Ministries in the respective WB economy.

Companies registered in any of the WB economies are companies that are predominantly owned by the public sector, Higher Education Institutions or PROs (50.1% or more).

3.2. Cross-border cooperation eligibility criteria

The applicant and the service provider must be from two different WB economies.

3.3. Eligible services of the IV

IV can be used to transfer scientific, technological or innovative knowledge that is new to the company or to solve a technical/technological problem that will be identified by the company.

Funds can be obtained for the following services:

  • Development of new or improvement (in terms of function and quality) of existing products, processes or services;
  • Proof of concept;
  • Feasibility study;
  • Production of laboratory prototypes;
  • Manufacturing demonstrational prototypes;
  • Different types of tests (in laboratory, production plant);
  • Validation of technology;
  • Validation of new or improved products, processes or services;
  • Development and introduction of special software for a product or process (within the product development);
  • IPR and technology transfer.

Specific tasks have to be detailed in the final financial offer.

IV can be awarded in the field of science and technology with the priority given to green and digital transition within the evaluation criteria.

The IV scheme is aligned with the Smart Specialisation Strategies for the WB economies from 2023 until 2027, which focuses on their respective main priority domain.

4.   Validity Period of the IV

The awarded IVs must be used by the recipient within a period of up to nine months from the date of the contract being signed among the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development – North Macedonia (FITD) and the recipient of the voucher. These details are specified in the contracting section.

The IV may be extended for a period of one month only under exceptional circumstances based on the request of the company (the recipient of the voucher) if the FITD assesses that the reasons stated in the request are justified. In cases where the IV is not used in this subsequent period, the FITD will not have any obligations towards this approved innovation voucher.

5. Ineligible Costs

The IV cannot be used for:

  • Repayment of interest or debt of another party;
  • Costs and commissions for past or possible future losses or debts;
  • Coverage of losses due to currency exchange, fees and penalties;
  • Expenses for entertainment and catering;
  • Creation of Business plans and economic appraisals;
  • Sales activities;
  • Standard website or mobile application development
  • Staff recruitment costs (costs for publishing an advertisement, commissions from employment agencies, costs related to selection of candidates, etc.) and migration costs;
  • Purchase of land or buildings, including renovation;
  • Export activities (costs directly related to the export of products, by establishing and operation of a distribution network, etc., or for other current costs of the applicant related to export activities);
  • Annual patent maintenance fees (with the exception of well-justified cases assessed as an allowable cost when evaluating the project proposals);
  • Costs for consulting services provided by the owner/s of the recipient company;
  • Rental of business premises;
  • Costs for procurement of equipment.

VAT is a cost that is not eligible for financing, but is calculated in the total amount. The recipient company should additionally cover the cost of VAT if applicable and, for the same cost, can get a refund in accordance with the applicable law.

In addition, the costs of carrying out activities previously funded by other sources are not eligible for funding.

5.1. Application process

To apply for funds awarded through the Innovation Voucher scheme, the applicant company must submit the following documents:

  • Innovation voucher application, completed, signed and printed in a form determined by the FITD, scanned in PDF format;
  • Current status for the company (legal form) – applicant issued by the respective institution in the WB economies (e.g., Central Registry in North Macedonia) of the respective economy not older than 6 (six) months from the deadline for submission of the application stated in the public call; and
  • Financial offer/s from the service provider/s, signed, printed and scanned in PDF format which must contain:
    • Specification of the service according to the need stated in the Innovation Voucher Application;
    • Name of the service provider/s and contact person responsible for the requested service;
    • Financial offer for services with value-added tax (VAT) expressed as a separate cost, if applicable;
    • Deadline for completion of the requested service;

In one Application, the applicant company can include a maximum of two service providers.

6. Deadline for submitting the Application

The deadline for submitting the application is 26 June 2024.

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