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 fund has two separate application windows. Window 1 is open for innovative start-ups in an early stage of development. Window 2 is open for organizations engaged in services to innovative start-ups, so called Innovation Support Organizations (ISOs).
- Window 1 is open to two subcategories of start-ups:
- Early- stage startups, 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-up startups, a registered business entity between 1-5 years of operation (from the official registration of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals).
- Window 2 of the ‘’Innovation challenge fund 4th call’’ focuses on supporting a network of ISOs that have the capacities to support start-ups (defined as a newly emerged business venture within the first five years of operation, including viable but non-registered business ideas) from various sectors.
- Window 1: The two subcategories are eligible for a grant of the following amount:
- For early- stage start-ups up to 30,000 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 30, 000 EUR (a registered business entity between 1-5 years of operation (from the official registration of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals).
- Window 2 the applying ISOs are eligible for a grant of up to 100 000 EUR.
Who can Apply?
- As mentioned, Window 1 of the ‘’Innovation Challenge fund 4th call’’ is open to Albanian start-ups created around an innovative business concept. The 4th call will be open to all startups that apply the above -mentioned specifications, but priority will be given to following sectors: startups that operate in the agricultural sector / startups that offer digital solutions /startups that offer solutions to tackle challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Window 2 of the ‘’Innovation challenge fund 4th call’’ is open to all innovation service and promotion providers such as Albanian incubators, accelerators, science parks, innovation hubs, co-working facilities, technology transfer offices, innovation clubs, specialized media on innovation, financial intermediaries, innovation education providers and others agents engaged in providing services to innovative start-ups as well as involved in developing the Albanian innovation ecosystem including promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
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 under Window 1 of the ‘’Innovation Challenge fund 4th 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 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.
- SECTORS OF PRIORITY – Agriculture / Digital solutions / Solutions that tackle challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- 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.
For more information, visit https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/