Innovative Economyis the biggest operational programme which aims at supporting innovativeness in a broad sense. It is possible to obtain grants for target projects, envisaging implementation of results of work concerned with development and research, projects (concerning implementation of state-of-the-art technological solutions leading to implementation of new products and services), envisaging development of research and working out new industrial patterns, initiate common projects in the Internet, etc. Co-financing may be provided for projects within the framework of IE OP conducted by both enterprises as well as business related institutions or scientific units providing high quality services for companies. Both small and big enterprises take advantage of the programme’s offer. However, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) are treated with priority. Special provisions have been introduced specifying that at least 65% of means allocated for direct support for enterprises within the framework of IE OP shall be directed to beneficiaries from SMEs. The total volume of public financial means engaged in implementation of IE OP within 2007-2013 amounts to approximately EUR 9,7 billion, out of which about EUR 8,3 billion comes from the European Regional Development Fund.
16 regional operational programmes, which are implemented in regions, also contain a rich offer for enterprises and institutions planning innovative projects. In some elements connected with innovativeness ROPs constitute some kind of supplement to proposals in relation to Innovative Economy. They providesupport for projects of regional range and lower value than in IE OP, but also here one may find instruments for financing implementation of new technologies, research, creation and development of cluster initiatives or developing business related institutions. AllROPs were subsidised from the EFRD with the amount of over EUR 16,5 billion. However, 23% of means, i.e. about EUR 3,9 billion shall be provided forthe aforementioned aims from the budget of these programmes.The highest percentage for support research and technological development as well as entrepreneurship development was directed by Opolskie Region (33%), managing the lowest budget of all regions, followed by Zachodniopomorskie (27,9%) and Kujawsko-Pomorskie (26,5%).
How shall the applicants benefit from structural funds?The co-financingtakes usually a formof grants, i.e. non-returnable financial assistance. A grant supplements applicant’s own resources, but does not replace them. A beneficiary, i.e. an entity the co-financing for a proposed Project was granted to, obtains it in a form of a partial cost refund, thus, after the project has been implemented. It is possible to receive advance payments and settle the project stage by stage, in a form of tranches.
European Programmes are also available for entities working on new solutions.
7th Framework Programme concerning Research and Technological Development (7PR).It is the biggest mechanism for financing and shaping scientific research on European level. It is a seven-year-old programme in its present edition (2007-2013), and its budget amounts to almost EUR 54 billion– which is over 60% more then the amount allocated to its previous edition. Our work-out presents a fragment of that programme which is directed to enterprises, e.g. support for companies in the sphere of an access to the state-of-the-art technologies and research results in order to improve their technological abilities and increase their competitiveness.
The Framework Programme for Competitiveness and Innovation - PCI 2007-2013 is another big European programme containing actions supporting innovativeness (including eco-innovations), access to financing and improving the quality of business-related services in regions. The Programme is to safeguard cohesion of all actions undertaken by the Community related to entrepreneurship, SMEs, industry competitiveness, innovations, development and ICT implementation, as well as development and promotion of energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy (intelligent energy). Its budget amounts to over EUR 3,6 billion.
Companies or individuals seeking capital for innovative projects should take interest in activities of business angels that in Poland and Europe function within associations and networks. Their assistance consists not only in providing money for business development but also in supporting (mentoring) and consulting in the sphere of management. Moreover, capital funds (venture capital and private equity), investing in micro-, small and medium-sized innovative companies may take advantage of the support given by the National Capital Fund [Krajowy Fundusz Kapitałowy]. Owing to that, enterprises with the biggest innovation potential may increase their chances for obtaining capital directed to development.
Entrepreneurs appreciate the simplest solutions. Interesting incentives for investing are included in the law on some forms of supporting innovative activities. It introduced the possibility of including expenditures on research and development into the costs of obtaining revenue, irrespective of the results they ended with. The basic advantage of tax instruments is their common availability (only few may obtain grants). Owing to that, innovativeness, understood as an approach to change implementation in accordance with the definition formulated by P.F. Drucker, may become popular in Poland much sooner.