The deadline for submitting projects for business incubators, which can obtain funding between EUR 200,000 and EUR 7 million each, has been extended by the Regional Development Ministry until July 9, 2018, at 12:00.
Business incubators are organisations that help develop start-ups and other small businesses. The call for projects (2.1B – Business Incubators) is part of the 2014-2020 Regional Operational Programme’s investment priority 2.1 – promoting the entrepreneurial spirit.
The total budget for this scheme is EUR 117.6 million, in all development regions with the exception of Bucharest-Ilfov. Separately, the Danube Delta region has an allocated budget of EUR 11.7 million. The funds are sourced from the European Regional Development Fund – see the co-financing rates and eligible expenses in the complete guide here.
Incubators can even be set up in abandoned buildings. City halls, universities and private companies of all sizes, including micro-enterprises, will be able to create or expand business incubators with EU funds, to help other entrepreneurs open their own businesses.
Entrepreneurs who want to open small businesses will be offered temporary offices (for free if the owners of the incubator are pubic authorities), business guidance, financial and accounting services in the business incubators created through the scheme.
Financing for incubators will be approved based on a business plan that should demonstrate an orientation towards the needs of SMEs and the sustainability of the investments, as well as maintenance of investment after the financing stops.
Incubators will be able to support small entrepreneurs in several phases of their business:
- The pre-incubation phase, which starts from identifying the business idea and ends with a business plan.
- The incubation phase, where support is given from the firm’s establishment until its development – usually covering the first 3 years, which should be enough to see whether the idea is successful and sustainable. The type of support offered can include specialised guidance, physical hosting at the incubator, administrative services, fiscal and legal services, marketing, mentoring and direct coaching services, networking, and more.
- The post-incubation (acceleration) phase – for companies that are already mature and able to develop on their own. In this phase, the firm is no longer hosted in the incubator, but can still receive support for things like: increasing sales, improving production processes, internationalisation or introducing innovations.
- Monitoring – both during incubation and for at least 2 years afterwards.
- Synergy – reflected in the companies’ business plans, by bringing together a wide range of business services offered to the incubator’s residents.
- Complementarity – the incubator offers services specialised for a certain category of entrepreneurs, acting as a complementary support factor in addition to the existing organisations that support the development of SMEs.
Funds can be hard to obtain
While this funding opportunity may be of interest for many organisations, Oana Sahlean, EU funds consultant, told BR that the programme’s conditions are quite restrictive for the applicants and many projects submitted last year are still tangled up in clarification requests from the authorities. Furthermore, according to Sahlean, MySMIS, the government’s electronic portal for European funds, is very difficult to use.