Podlaska Regional Development Foundation (PRDF) is one of the partners in the SUPER project co-financed by Interreg Europe. The main goal of the SUPER project was to identify the needs of SMEs in the region related to the eco-innovation and to help companies to be more eco-innovative.
The needs of SMEs identified in the Podlaskie region indicate that the access to support had been hindered because of time and needed resources, therefore, the support is gained mainly by companies which possess required resources and experience. Additionally, companies operating in the “eco” sector had difficulties connected with finding adequate support. Generally companies want to invest in eco-innovations, but they are not able to find support instruments adequate for their needs. Consequently, companies are not able to implement their ideas connected with eco-innovations. Nevertheless, if a company succeeds in the identification of an adequate kind of support, it turns out that the complexity of procedures and bureaucracy are a real obstacle to apply for a project. Companies lacking sufficient experience and resources are not able to prepare documentation and apply for funding. The procedures and forms are very complicated elements of the application process. Companies are not able to deal with the amount of formalities and completion of the application form on their own.
PRDF identified the needs of SMEs with strong co-operation of the stakeholders – Marshal’s Office of the Podlaskie Region and Białystok Science and Technology Park. The stakeholders participated in all meetings organised within SUPER project and actively helped in preparing the Action Plan.
The Action Plan prepared by PRDF within SUPER project had 2 recommendations based on the needs identified in the project. PRDF implemented those 2 recommendations from the Action Plan.
The first recommendation was that PRDF applied for being an operator of a grant project under Sub-measure 1.2.2 Voucher for research services under the Regional Operational Program of the Podlaskie Voivodship. The guidelines of the Managing Institution didn’t specify the elements that should be included in the application form for grants for research and innovation submitted by an entrepreneur to the operator of a grant project. It is the operator who decides about the design and elements of the application form. The operator independently creates the document from the scratch.
The second recommendation in the Action Plan was that the application form prepared by the grant project operator should contain only elements essential to obtain support, without any unnecessary complexities.
In April 2019 PRDF started to implement the grant project. Also, the application form for SMEs contained only elements essential to obtain support. The application form had only 8 pages and 3 of them were related to the information such as: company name, the address, the status of the company, employment etc. SMEs could apply for the grants from June till September 2019.
164 grant applications had been submitted and 87 contracts were signed. It was a big success! Companies stopped being afraid of applying for grants. The application form was so simple that SMEs didn’t have any problems in filling it in.
Most companies that applied for grants had been from the following sectors: metal and machine industry, agro-food, medical and eco-innovations (17 contracts). What was very interesting - most of the contracts were signed with micro companies – 45 contracts. Thanks to the project micro and small companies stopped being afraid of applying for grants.
In 2020 there was another Call for proposals for grantees – it started and ended in June. And, also – a lot of companies were interested in receiving grants. 34 grant applications had been submitted, 23 contracts were signed.
The benefits that SUPER project had brought to SMEs in Podlaskie region were that companies stopped being afraid of applying for grants and could fill in the application form by themselves without any help from external experts. PRDF plans to continue the grant project in 2021.