Deadline: 10 November 2019
Applications are now open for the Innovation Challenge Fund which provides an opportunity for funding for Albanian start-ups created around innovative business concepts. It includes both businesses in early stage of development and small innovative enterprises in a scaling-up phase.
A start-up is defined as a newly emerged business venture within the first three years of operation, including viable but non-registered business ideas from various sectors.
The Fund objective is to boost start-up creation and improve the innovation ecosystem in Albania. This is done by offering an opportunity for access to finance through an open, transparent and competitive application process, which provides applicants with a one-off, limited-duration grant to overcome the uncertainties that inhibit innovation, research, and development.
The three subcategories of start-ups:
- idea stage start-ups, i.e. a founder or a team in the early stages of implementing an innovative business idea (no registered entity needed)
- early stage start-ups, i.e. a registered business entity within the first 0-12 month of operation (from the official registration of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals)
- scale-ups, a registered business entity within the first 13-36 month of operation (from the official registration of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals)
Under the three subcategories are eligible for a grant of the following amount:
- For idea stage start-ups up to 7 000 EUR (a founder or a team in the early stages of implementing an innovative business idea).
- For early stage start-ups up to 15 000 EUR (a registered business entity within the first 0-12 month of operation (from the official registration of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals)).
- For scale-ups up to 25 000 EUR (a registered business entity within the first 13-36 month of operation (from the official registration of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals)).
- The period for the implementation of the project will be up to 12 months and the grant must be utilized within the project period.
Apart from falling under one of the three above-mentioned start-up categories, the applicant must also satisfy the following eligibility criteria to be eligible for a grant the ‘’Innovation Challenge fund 1st call’’:
- be a legal person;
- already be established in Albania or ensure that the start-up will operate and be registered in Albania during the project period (hence also Albanian diaspora, and non-Albanian residents in Albania would be eligible to apply as along as the business is assured to take place in Albania),
- not have performed registered activity for more than 36 months until the date of publication of the Call for Proposals,
- must provide minimum 50% of cost share (of the total value of the project);
- be directly responsible for the preparation and implementation of the activities outlined in the application.
The following list offers some examples of eligible activities:
- developing new products (including protecting intellectual property rights and standards);
- diversification of new products, processes or services through new and innovative solutions;
- development and improvement of new organizational models and processes;
- purchase/development of equipment and software for technological advancement (note: if it proves to be justified (price, purchase option or the like), the purchase of used equipment from a legal entity is allowed) (Note: the bought equipment cannot be subject of transfer of ownership for at least two years after project completion.);
- development or improvement of production processes that can lead to an increase in production capacity or new product characteristics;
- development of new energy-efficient solutions.
The evaluation process is carried out in a transparent manner based on specific criteria, involving an evaluation committee with international expertise. The evaluation team will especially consider the following criteria:
- Innovation Criteria – the uniqueness of the business concept in the Albanian context and its innovative character.
- Feasibility and Sustainability Criteria – commercial viability, the credentials and past business record of the entrepreneur, the qualifications of the team and their organizational and technical capacity, the correlation between the activities, the resources and the expected results, the potential for fast growth, the willingness of the entrepreneur/team to share the costs of the business project, as well as the likelihood of sustainability.
- Additionality Criteria – the ability to generate employment and business linkages, diverse teams and women led ventures, improved quality of life for the beneficiaries, positive environmental impact, development of local value chains, linkages to academia, other businesses and relevant research, secured additional funding, and start-ups located outside of Tirana.
How to Apply
Interested applicants can apply via given website.
For more information, please visit http://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/