EU Competitiveness and Innovation Program in 2024

Learn all about how to apply for the Competitiveness and Innovation in Enterprises 2021-2027 program!
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EU Competitiveness and Innovation Program in 2024
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In the dynamic world of business, innovation and competitiveness are key drivers for growth and success. The program “Competitiveness and Innovation in Enterprises” 2021-2027, in particular the procedure to it - BG16RFPR001-1.001 - “Development of innovations in enterprises” was created in order to support Bulgarian enterprises in this direction, providing them with the necessary resources and support for development. This program is aimed at stimulating innovation, improving production processes and introducing sustainable business practices that will lead to strengthening the competitiveness of Bulgarian enterprises at national and international level.

With a focus on two key priorities — Innovation and Growth and Circular Economy — the programme aims to address the key challenges and opportunities facing businesses. Under the Innovation and Growth priority, the specific objective is to develop and strengthen research and innovation capacity, as well as the deployment of advanced technologies. Within the framework of the Circular Economy, the aim is to promote the transition to a circular economy based on the efficient use of resources.

The application procedure BG16RFPR001-1.001 “Enterprise Innovation Development” provides opportunities for micro, SME and large enterprises to benefit from grants to build innovation in various fields. Special attention is paid to sectors such as Informatics and ICT, Mechatronics and Microelectronics, Healthy Living Industries, Bioeconomy and Biotechnology, as well as New Technologies in Creative and Recreational Industries. In addition, projects in the field of clean technology, circular and low-carbon economy are also promoted, with a focus on waste management and environmentally friendly production processes.

The application in 2024 provides a unique opportunity for companies to benefit from the support of the European Union to implement innovative projects that contribute to their sustainable development and growth. The approach of the programme is inclusive, seeking to cover a wide range of industries and to promote gender equality in the context of business and innovation.

In this dynamic economic context, the program “Competitiveness and Innovation in Enterprises” is a key tool for stimulating the innovation and competitiveness of Bulgarian enterprises. It opens the door to new opportunities, sustainable growth and development, emphasizing the importance of investments in research and development for the future of Bulgarian business.

What are the application requirements under the procedure BG16RFPR001-1.001 - “Development of innovations in enterprises”

As mentioned earlier, the Competitiveness and Innovation in Enterprises 2021-2027 program offers the opportunity for Bulgarian companies to participate in initiatives aimed at promoting innovation and increasing the competitiveness of the economy. In order to successfully apply, firms must meet a number of critical requirements that ensure that support will be targeted at suitable and qualified businesses. The requirements cover a variety of aspects, from the legal form of applicants and their financial stability to specific eligibility criteria related to the size of the enterprise and the turnover generated. These criteria are designed to ensure that support reaches those businesses that have the potential and resources to implement innovative projects contributing to sustainable development and growth.

Eligible Applicants

The basic eligibility requirements of applicants and their partners include several key aspects. First of all, applicants must be traders within the meaning of the Trade Act or the Law on Cooperatives, or be equivalent persons under the legislation of another Member State of the European Economic Area. An exception is made for branches of legal entities registered in Bulgaria, due to the lack of independent legal personality. It is also important that candidates are registered no later than 31.12.2020years and have earned a minimum net sales revenue for2022., according to the category of the enterprise.

With regard to partners, they should also meet similar eligibility criteria and, in addition, they must have realized net sales revenue for 2022, proportional to the category of the partner entity. It is important to note that in determining the net sales revenue, only the data of the individual statement of income and expenses of the enterprise are taken into account, without taking into account the data of related enterprises and/or partner enterprises.

To ensure effective and targeted funding, the Competitiveness and Innovation in Enterprises 2021-2027 programme places specific financial requirements on applicants based on their category as an enterprise. These requirements are key to identifying eligible participants in the programme and ensure that support is targeted at those with a sustainable financial base and potential for development and innovation. Depending on the category of the enterprise under the Small and Medium Enterprises Act, the minimum net sales revenue for the financial year 2022 is as follows:

  • Micro enterprises:They must have achieved a minimum net sales revenue equal to or greater than BGN 80,000.
  • Small businesses:A minimum of BGN 200,000 net sales revenue is required.
  • Medium-sized enterprise and small company with an average market capitalization:A minimum net sales revenue of BGN 800,000 is required.
  • Large enterprises:They must have generated a minimum of BGN 3,000,000 in net sales revenue.

These financial criteria have been put in place to ensure that the projects and initiatives supported by the Programme come from enterprises with proven economic stability and the ability to successfully manage innovation and development projects. This contributes to increasing the efficiency and sustainability of investments under the programme, while promoting entrepreneurial activity and innovation potential in the country.

In addition to these financial requirements, it is important to note that large enterprises can only apply for the procedure in effective cooperation with SMEs, which underlines the programme's aim to stimulate synergy and partnership between different sizes of enterprises to achieve innovation.

These eligibility criteria have been introduced in order to ensure that funding under the programme will be directed to projects that have a real potential to contribute to the innovation and competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy. Strict requirements ensure a fair and efficient selection process, thus helping companies that are in the best position to successfully implement their innovation initiatives.

Which applicants are ineligible under the terms of the program?

Applicants and partners may not participate in the project selection procedure and receive a grant under the procedure for the development of innovations in enterprises if:

  1. Are in the process of bankruptcy, liquidation, or have ceased their activities:This also includes enterprises that are in insolvency proceedings or have entered into an out-of-court agreement with their creditors.
  2. Have entered into force a criminal decree for violations of labor legislation:This covers violations related to labour migration and labour mobility, as well as other similar obligations.
  3. Are deprived of the right to pursue a particular profession or activity:It also includes those who have established agreements with the aim of distorting competition.
  4. Have obligations for taxes and social security contributions:If the amount of unpaid taxes or social security contributions is more than 1% of the annual total turnover for the last financial year or more than BGN 50,000.
  5. Conflicts of interest:This also includes persons who represent the applicant or the partner and who have tried to influence the decision or have received an undue advantage in the grant procedure.
  6. Participate in activities that are expressly excluded from support:This covers enterprises applying for financing activities in the sector of primary production of agricultural products, processing and marketing of forest products, as well as those that have violated fisheries and aquaculture regulations.
  7. The following shall be subject to restrictive measures or sanctions:Including those who have identified actions destabilizing the situation in other countries or are involved in ineligible activities with regard to state aid regimes.
  8. The directors of the companies or management bodies and the persons representing the applicant partner shall have sentences for a crime of a general nature entered into force - the persons representing the candidate/partner have been convicted with a valid sentence - under Art. 108a, Art. 159a — 159g, Art. 172, Art. 192a, Art. 194 — 217, Art. 219 — 252, Art. 253 — 260, Art. 301 — 307, Art. 321, 321a and 352. — 353f of the Criminal Code;
  9. Are sanctioned in one of the other forms expressly described in the conditions.

Who are the eligible partners?

Successful implementation of projects under the Competitiveness and Innovation in Enterprises Program 2021-2027 can be realized both through individual participation and through partnership between different enterprises. The partnership offers a unique opportunity for cooperation and exchange of knowledge and skills, which is especially valuable in the implementation of innovative projects. However, it is important to respect certain criteria when selecting partners in order to ensure compliance with the terms of the programme.

Eligibility criteria for partners:

  • Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs):Enterprises meeting the SME criteria according to Art. 3 and Art. 4 of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Act and Annex I to Regulation 651/2014 are eligible to participate as partners. This also includes small companies of medium market capitalization, but only on condition that the applicant is an SME and the project is implemented in certain thematic areas.
  • Large enterprises:Large enterprises can also be partners, but again only if the applicant is an SME and the project falls within the specified thematic areas.

Important terms of partnership:

  • Mandatory partnership for large enterprises:Large enterprises can apply for the procedure only in the case of effective cooperation with SMEs.
  • Limit on the number of partners:Only one partner can participate in a project proposal. Proposals with more than one partner will automatically be rejected.
  • Effective cooperation:The partnership must demonstrate effective cooperation, where a minimum of 30% and a maximum of 50% of the eligible project costs are borne by the partner.
  • A partnership between related undertakings shall not be permitted:Partnership between undertakings which are related or are in a partnership relationship under the legislation shall not be allowed.
  • Restriction of participation:An entity may participate in the procedure only once, as a candidate or as a partner. Failure to comply with this requirement leads to the rejection of all project proposals in which the undertaking concerned participates.
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What types of activities can I get funding for?

The Competitiveness and Innovation in Enterprises 2021-2027 programme provides funding opportunities for project proposals that are in line with the principles of efficiency, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The main objective is to support innovative activities that contribute to the achievement of the specific objectives of the programme and the broad objectives of the procedure, while ensuring an adequate balance between the expected costs and benefits.

Eligible projects:

Projects eligible for funding should focus on developing innovations in one of the following thematic areas and sub-areas of ISIL 2021-2027:

  1. Thematic area “Informatics and ICT”:It includes ICT-based services and systems, 3D digitization, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, big and connected data, communication networks, cybersecurity, blockchain technologies, fintech, internet services and much more.
  2. Thematic area “Mechatronics and microelectronics”:It covers the manufacture of electronic components, mechanical engineering, robotic systems, biomechatronics, photonics and imaging technologies, among others.
  3. Thematic area “Healthy Living Industry, Bioeconomy and Biotechnology”:It includes methods of clean production of Bulgarian products, medical and therapeutic tourism, biotechnology and sustainable agriculture.
  4. Thematic area “New technologies in the creative and recreational industries”:It covers the cultural and creative industries, digitization, computer and mobile applications and games, production of goods and facilities for these spheres.
  5. Thematic area “Clean technologies, circular and low carbon economy”:It focuses on energy efficient innovation, hydrogen technologies, sustainable mobility, resource efficiency and zero-waste technologies.

Important for applicants:

  • Projects must demonstrate a high degree of innovation and potential for impact in the chosen thematic area.
  • Activities should be aimed at achieving concrete results and outputs that are consistent with the objectives of the programme and contribute to economic development and improved competitiveness.
  • Projects must respect the principles of efficiency, efficiency and economy, ensuring optimal use of resources and maximization of benefits.

Successful project proposals will be those that can prove their ability to contribute to the development of innovations that have real potential for application and can be successfully integrated into the market, thus contributing to the sustainable development of the Bulgarian economy.

Are there any specific conditions for applying?

The application procedure under the Competitiveness and Innovation in Enterprises 2021-2027 program includes a number of specific conditions that applicants must meet in order to ensure the eligibility of their project proposals.

1. Selection of thematic areas and priority subareas of ISIS:

  • Candidates must choose onethematic area and onepriority sub-area of ISIS 2021-2027, in which the innovation developed under the project fits best.
  • In the event that the innovation falls within more than one area and/or sub-area, only one area and one sub-area should be selected as the lead area for the purposes of the procedure.

2. Eligibility of projects:

  • Projects should lead to the development of a product innovation or innovation in business processes aimed at the production of goods and the provision of services.
  • Eligibility requirements must be met, including not infringing on someone else's intellectual property rights.

3. Technological readiness:

  • Projects must lead to innovations with technological readiness at level 6 or higher.

4. Compliance with EU horizontal principles:

  • Projects must comply with the principles of non-significant harm and other horizontal EU policies.

5. Effective partnership cooperation:

  • In the case of a partnership, there must be effective cooperation between the partners, respecting the definitions and requirements for such cooperation under Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014.

6. Declaration of non-infringement of foreign intellectual property rights:

  • Applicants and partners must declare that the innovation being developed does not infringe on other people's intellectual property rights.

All these conditions are important to ensure the eligibility of project proposals and to ensure compliance with the objectives and priorities of the programme. In addition, these requirements help the evaluation committee to identify and support projects with high innovation potential and added value for the economy.

Are there any other specific application conditions?

Pon the present procedure the economic activity applied for (project code under the CID 2008) is the one within which the innovation developed by the project will be implementedon the part of the candidate/partner. This activity should be indicated in the Application Form, section “Applicant data”, field “Kid-2008 project code” - in relation to the applicant and section “Data for partners”, field “Kid-2008 project code” - in relation to the partner (if applicable).

Example: In the case of an innovation that falls within the thematic area “Mechatronics and Microelectronics”, a subfield of ISIS “Engineering, reengineering and life cycle extension of industrial machines, appliances and systems based on the platform Industry 4.0 and digitalization and digital transformation of industrial production”, but the same will be used by enterprises for the purposes of the economic activity that it realizes/will implement in connection with the production of plastic packaging, the code of the project under the CID for the respective enterprise is 22.22 “Production of plastic packaging.”

Applicants and partners (if any) should justify how the innovation will be realized/used within the specified economic activity code (s) in the “Applicant data” section, “KID-2008 project code” field and “Partner data” section, “KID-2008 project code” field of the application form. The above justification mandatoryis submitted within the relevant field of the “Additional information necessary for evaluation of the project proposal” section of the application form.

Applicants and partners are responsible for the correct determination of the project code, and in order to achieve correctness in filling in the information, they can familiarize themselves with the Methodology for determining the code of main economic activity under the CID-2008 and the methodological notes on the Classification of Economic Activities - KID-2008 (Annex 12).

Under the procedure, it is permissible for the applicant and the partner to have requested support for various economic activities under the KID-2008.

In the event that the economic activity of the candidate/partner within which the innovation developed under the project will be implemented (“Project Code under KID-2008”) coincides with the main or additional economic activity of the candidate/partner, the Evaluation Committee will carry out an ex officio check on the basis of the data provided by the NSI for 2022, regarding the code of the main/additional activity of the candidate/partner.

IMPORTANT:The information specified in the field (s) 'Project code under KID-2008' (for the applicant and partner, if applicable) and the corresponding field in the 'Additional information required for the evaluation of the project proposal' section (intended for the justification described above) is mandatory and serves to check the eligibility of the projectand compliance with the requirements set out in item 11.2, subparagraphs 2), 3) and 5) of the Terms of Application. In this regard, there should be a correspondence between the information specified in these fields of the Application Form. In case of discrepancy or misidentified by the applicant and/or partner (if applicable) “Project code under KID-2008”, the Evaluation Committee will carry out an official correction of the field, leading to the determination of the project code of the candidate/partner will be the opinion of an independent evaluator who has expertise in the field of the project developed by the project ovation.

If, after verification, it is established that on the basis of the information provided in the Application Form and/or according to the opinion of the independent evaluator, the project code of the candidate/partner cannot be determined or that the economic activity within which the innovation developed by the project will be implemented by the applicant/partner falls within the ineligible under the sectors/activities procedure, or that no information on the economic activity is presented in the Application Form (by the applicant and/or the partner, if applicable), in which the innovation under development will be implemented, The project proposal will be rejected.

IMPORTANT:Where the applicant/partner operates simultaneously in ineligible sectors and in eligible sectors under this procedure, funds under this procedure shall be made available only for the activities in the eligible sectors and the beneficiary (if applicable) should keep separate accounts in respect of income, expenses, assets and losses the appropriations relating to each activity which ensures the separation of activities so that activities in the ineligible sectors do not benefit from grants granted under this procedure.

In the case of aid requested for both an eligible and an ineligible sector, an ex officio adjustment will be made to the budget of the project proposal to eliminate the costs of activities in the ineligible sector.

If, at the implementation stage, it is established that the requirements not to support an ineligible activity are not met, the funds provided (in the case of disbursements) are subject to recovery.

In view of the above, the applicant/partner submits as a condition for payment, an individual chart of accounts approved by the management of the enterprise, including the separate accounting accounts (sub-accounts) specially opened for the project proposal. The statement of accounts/records on the accounts indicated in the individual chart of accounts should show the differentiation of costs so that activities in the ineligible sectors do not benefit from the grant under the procedure.

According to the conditions of participation, the above circumstances related to the eligibility of the projects, including the economic activity code of the candidate/partner project, will be subject to verification and at the stage of implementation of the project proposals, and additional documents may be required for their confirmation.

In addition, applicants/partners should bear in mind that the inadmissibility criteria are applied cumulatively with the eligibility criteria under this procedure.

IMPORTANT:Given the specificity of this procedure, opinions will be provided by independent evaluators (including international) who have expertise in the field of innovation supported under this procedure for the evaluation of part of the criteria related to the eligibility of projects.

IMPORTANT:Potential candidates/partners can not participatein the project selection procedure, and They can't getgrants, in case they fall under the prohibitive regimes of Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014/ Regulation (EU) No 2023/2831, Regulation (EU) No 2021/1060 of the European Parliament and of the Council Regulation (EU) No 2021/1058, the Law on the management of funds from European Funds under shared management (USEFSU) and under the legal regulations.

All applicants and partners are required to declare compliance with the above inadmissibility criteria by filling in special declarations upon application. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in automatic rejection from the project selection procedure.

These strict ineligibility criteria have been put in place to ensure that programme support is targeted at enterprises and projects that are in good financial and legal standing and can effectively implement the innovation and development the programme aims to stimulate.

Why should we trust Elan Consulting to apply for a European project under the Competitiveness and Innovation in Enterprises program?

In a dynamic and increasingly competitive business world, the success of any company often depends on its ability to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions. Elan Consulting offers its clients not only expertise in the field of application for European projects, but also a comprehensive partnership aimed at the development and sustainable growth of their business. Let's look at some key reasons why you should choose Elan Consulting as your partner when applying for the Competitiveness and Innovation Program.

Professionalism and experience:Elan Consulting has a team of highly qualified specialists who have in-depth knowledge of European programs and funds. Our consultants have many years of experience in the preparation, management and implementation of project proposals, which guarantees a high degree of professionalism and efficiency in working with clients.

Individual approach:We understand that every business is unique, and that is why we offer an individual approach to meet the specific needs and goals of each client. We carefully analyze the business model, needs and innovation potential of each company in order to be able to offer the most appropriate strategies for the application and implementation of European projects.

Full support throughout the process:From the identification of the appropriate program and the preparation of the project proposal to the management of the project and the accountability after its approval, Elan Consulting provides full support to its clients. This includes assistance in the preparation of documentation, advice on optimizing project plans, monitoring implementation and support in any administrative and bureaucratic procedures.

Focus on the result:Our main goal is the success of your project. We focus on developing strategies that maximize the chances of approval and provide the greatest possible added value for your business. In this way, we not only help to win financing, but also contribute to the long-term development and competitiveness of your company in European and global markets.

By choosing Elan Consulting as your partner in the application process under the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme, you invest in reliability, professionalism and, most importantly, in the future of your business. Let us work together for the realization of your innovative ideas and projects!

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