Operational Programme "Innovations and Competitiveness" 2014-2020 is a successor of the Operational Programme "Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy 2007-2013", but it is significantly improved in terms of the planned activities and the selection procedures of quality projects. Focus of this Programme are innovation activities, technological modernization and energy optimization of enterprises described in details in the Programme’s priority axes. OPIC’s budget for the planning period until 2020 is estimated at 1.39 billion. euros, provided by the European Regional Development Fund (85% of the budget) and national contribution of 209 mln. euros (15% of the budget).

OPIC 2014-2020 is based on five priority axes forming the financed directions, as well as the allocation of resources under the Programme, as follows:


Priority Axis 1: Technological development and innovation - 295 mln. Euro from the ERDF (21.24% of the budget)

FOCUS: Strengthening the innovation capacity of enterprises, promotion of R&D activities, development of the innovation infrastructure through support for existing and efficient structures with a focus on direct support for businesses facilitating the connection between business and science.

Investment Priority 1.1: "Тechnology development and innovations”

Sample activities:

  • Support for innovative companies in developing and introducing new products, processes and business models
  • Promotion of R & D investment, incl. in partnership with research organizations and other enterprises
  • Support for innovative start-ups
  • Support for social innovations
  • Support for the development of partnerships between business and academic institutions, stimulating the creation and development of networks of innovative platforms, international business cooperation and initiatives for research and innovation
  • Providing innovation vouchers to promote cooperation between business and academic institutions, marketing and organizational innovations
  • Support for the development of infrastructure for innovation and R&D
    • development of thematically focused laboratories for certification and measurments
    • laboratories for testing and demonstrating concepts of experimental models and utility models
    • technological centers
    • support for the development and upgrade of the pilot project for technological park "Sofia Tehpark"

Priority Axis 2: Entrepreneurship and capacity for growth of SMEs - 593 mln . Euro from the ERDF (50.17% of the budget)

FOCUS: Promoting the creation and development of enterprises in Bulgaria through support for technological improvement and increasing the competitiveness and productivity of Bulgarian companies.

Investment Priority 2.1. „Access to financing in support of the entrepreneurship”;

Investment Priority 2.2.: „Growth capacity of SMEs”

Sample activities:

  • Consulting and investment support for emerging and / or start-up enterprises in priority sectors
  • Technology renewal and improvement, as well as increasing productivity and resource efficiency through the introduction of leading technology solutions
  • Investment support for the implementation of new ICT-based services, production and distribution methods, e-commerce applications and more
  • Improved production processes through the implementation of internationally recognized standards
  • Support in meeting the requirements for quality certification and obtaining internationally recognized certificates
  • Support for the introduction of integrated business management (ERP) and computer aided design, engineering and manufacturing (CAD / CAM / CAE)
  • Promoting the development of existing clusters and support for newly created ones in case of a justified need
  • Promoting cultural and creative industries

Investment Priority 3: Energy and resource efficiency of businesses - 264 mln. Euros from the ERDF (22.35% of the budget)

FOCUS: Increasing energy and resource efficiency in enterprises through the introduction of low-carbon technologies, eco-innovations and support measures for improving the energy and production efficiency and the energy transmission.

Investment Priority 3.1.: "Energy technologies and energy efficiency”;

Investment Priority 3.2.: „Resource efficiency”

Sample activities:

  • Support for increasing energy efficiency in enterprises
  • Feasibility studies, analyzes and evaluations for the development of systems for energy storage and smart grids for efficient electricity supply
  • Investments in transformers and batteries, measurement instrumentation and software products
  • Implementation of advanced solutions for optimizing production processes and reducing the use of raw materials
  • Implementation of modern technologies for reuse of waste and / or other alternative waste utilization methods
  • Implementation of advanced waste technologies
  • Introduction of innovative production materials and increasing the use of recyclable materials
  • Integration of technologies for development of "green products"
  • Consultancy services for improving resource efficiency and sustainable use of raw materials

Priority Axis 4: Removing obstacles in the field of security of gas supplies - 38.2 mln. Euros from the ERDF (3.24% of the budget)

Investment Priority 4.1.: „Improving energy efficiency and security of gas supplies through the development of intelligent systems for energy transmission ”


Priority Axis 5: Technical Assistance - 35.4 mln. Euros from the ERDF (3% of the budget)

Within Priority 1, Priority 2 and Priority 3 are provided also support measures in the form of financial instruments, such as guarantees on bank loans and equity investments, representing nearly 25% of the Programme’s resources. The main focus of the Programme is on SMEs, but for some of the measures eligible beneficiaries will be large enterprises, too.

There is also support for clusters, technology transfer offices and technology centers, Sofia Tech Park, various state agencies and organizations providing services to the business.


CALL „SUPPORT FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF INNOVATIONS IN THE ENTERPRISES "


Application deadline: 4th April 2016

Eligible projects:

1)The project should lead to the market realization of a product (goods or services) or the implementation of a new production process, falling within the thematic scope defined by the Innovation strategy for smart specialization (ISSS).

2)The projects should implement an innovation that is developed by the applicant or has been acquired from third parties (based on intellectual property rights acquisition).

The projects should fall into one or more of the following thematic areas in accordance with the Innovational strategy for smart specialization (ISSS).

  • Mechatronics and clean technologies
  • Informatics and ICT
  • Healthy living and biotechnologies industry
  • New technologies in the creative and the recreative industries

Intensity and amount of the grant:

1) For projects executed in “de minimis” regime

Up to 90% of the eligible costs for all enterprises

  • Minimal amount of the grant - 100 000 lv;
  • Maximal amount of thegrant – 391 166 lv.

*The maximum grant amount under this component for one and the same company (and its associated enterprises), together with any other received “de minimis” aid, cannot exceed the equivalent of EUR 200,000 over a period of three fiscal years.

2) For projects executed in the “regional aid” regime

Category of the enterprise

Maximal intensity of the financial aid for activities outside the Southwestern region

Maximal intensity of the financial aid for activities inside the Southwestern region

Minimal amount of the grant

Maximal amount of the grant

Micro and Small

70 %

45 %

100 000 lv..

1 000 000 lv.

Medium

60 %

35 %

100 000 lv.

1 000 000 lv.

Large

50 %

25 %

100 000 lv.

1 500 000 lv.

Basic requirements for applicants’ eligibility:

Legal entities and merchants, registered according to the Bulgarian Commercial law (or equivalent entity under the legislation of a Member State of the European Economic Area), and having minimum three completed fiscal years (2013, 2014 и 2015г.)

*If the applicant is an equivalent entity under the legislation of a Member State of the European Economic Area, to the date of signing the contract with the Managing Authority the beneficiary must be registered under the Bulgarian Commercial Register Act.

Eligible are projects that include the following activities::

Element A “Investments”

  • Acquisition of new equipment, needed for the implementation of the innovative product (goods or services) in the production process
  • Acquisition of intellectual ownership rights over the innovation that is been implemented
  • Acquisition/development of a specialized software, necessary for the implementation of the innovative product (goods or services)

For element A the applicants could choose between both applicable regimes for state aid in accordance with their needs and goals:

- under the conditions and limitations of the “regional aid” regime OR

- under the conditions and limitations of the “de minimis”regime

Element B “Services“:

  • Consultancy and other services in support of the innovation

For Element Б "Services" could be applied the following regimes of public/minimum aid:
- Consultancy services and services supporting innovations in favor of SMEs (applicable to micro, small and medium enterprises)
- "De minimis" (applicable to large enterprises)

Maximal duration of the project:18 months



CALL "SUPPORT FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF INNOVATIONS IN START-UP COMPANIES"


Application deadline: 5th May 2016

The grant for each project could be between 50000 BGNand391166BGN regardless of the company’s size.ж

The applicable regime under this procedure is "de minimis", as the grant covers up to 90% of the planned eligible project costs(for all categories of enterprises).

*The maximum grant amount under this procedure for one and the same company (and its associated enterprises), together with any other received “de minimis” aid, cannot exceed the equivalent of EUR 200,000 over a period of three fiscal years.

Eligible candidates:

Legal entities and merchants, registered according to the Bulgarian Commercial law (or equivalent entity under the legislation of a Member State of the European Economic Area), having fewer than three completed fiscal years (2013, 2014 и 2015г.)

The projects should fall into one or more of the following thematic areas in accordance with the Innovational strategy for smart specialization (ISSS).

  • Mechatronics and clean technologies
  • Informatics and ICT
  • Healthy livingand biotechnologies industry
  • New technologies in the creative and the recreative industries

Eligible activities:

• Conducting applied research, testing, measurements (incl. development of programs and methodologies) related to the development of innovative product or process;
Research, acquisition and application of R&D results, technologies, know-how, unpatented inventions, intellectual property rights;
• Protection of intellectual property at national and international level;
Launching and testing of prototypes and pilot lines;

Elaboration of economic assessment, financial assessment and technical assessment (incl. Investmentplan) supporting the development of the innovative product or process;
• Development of technologies for the production of the innovative product or process;
Elaboration of market analyses and marketing plans for commersialization of the innovative product or process;
• Organizing promotional events in Bulgaria related to the promotion of
the innovative product or process;
• Visualization
activities

Eligible costs:

• Wages and salaries (incl. Health and social security contributions paid by the employer) of qualified personnel necessary for the implementation of the project activities - up to 60% of the total eligible project costs.

Acquisition of fixed assets - machines and equipmentnecessary for the implementation of the project activities – up to 100 000 BGN;
Acquisition of intangible assets (incl. software development) necessary for the implementation of the project activities.

Supplies and materials required for launching and testing of prototypes and pilot lines - eligible only if the launch and testing is done by the applicant;
Renting of spaces for conducting of applied research, testing, testing and measurements, as well as create and test prototypes and pilot lines;

External services
- Carrying out applied research, testing, measurements (incl. development of programs and methodologies) related to the development of the innovative product or process
- Protection of intellectual property at national and international level (incl. Registration fees for
a patent, utility model or industrial design)
-
Launching and testing of prototypes and pilot lines
- Elaboration of economic assessment, financial assessment and technical assessment (incl. Investment plan) supporting the development of the innovative product or process
- Development of technologies for the production of the innovative product or process
-
Elaboration of market analyses and marketing plans for commersialization of the innovative product or process
-
Renting spaces and equipment for promotional events in Bulgaria

Business trips within the country and abroad (travel and subsistence) of the staff developing the innovation, necessary for the implementation of the project activities;
• Costs for visualization

Project duration: up to 24 months


CALL „ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN SMEs"


Expected start: March 2016

Deadline for submission of proposals: 150 days after the
official announcement of the call

Eligible projects:

Projects should be based on the recommendations of an energy audit performed according to a model drawn up for the purposes of the current call and carried out by a person registered in the public register under Art. 60 of the Energy Еfficiency Аct

The control on the quality of the energy audits will be performed by the Agency for Sustainable Energy Development (SEDA). The compliance of the energy audit with the current call’s requirements is a condition for eligibility of the project.

Applicants must submit the energy audit (Appendix B) for consideration by SEDA not later than two months before the deadline for submission of project proposals.

Intensity and amount of the grant

The minimum amount of the financial aid is 50 000 BGN and the maximum amount is 1 500 000 BGN for all categories of enterprises.

I. Grant‘s intensity for Еlement А „Investments“ (mandatory element!):

1) In the “de minimis” regime

  • Up to 70% of the eligible costs for all enterprises
  • Minimal amount of the grant 50 000 BGN;
  • Maximal amount of thegrant – 391 166 BGN

*The maximum grant amount under this component for one and the same company (and its associated enterprises), together with any other received “de minimis” aid, cannot exceed the equivalent of EUR 200,000 over a period of three fiscal years.

2) In the “regional aid” regime

Category of the enterprise

Max. grant intensity outside the SW region

Max. grant intensity inside the SW region

Min. amount of the grant

Max. amount of the grant

Micro and small

70 %

45 %

50 000 BGN

1,5 mln BGN

Medium

60 %

35 %

50 000 BGN

1,5 mln BGN

Note: If the applicant has chosen the regional investment aid regime, eligible are only proposals that have as their main purpose the initial investments in tangible and intangible assets associated with capacity expansion of an existing industrial site or a fundamental change in the overall production process of an existing business object.

3) In the investment aid for improving energy efficiency measures” regime

  • Micro and smallenterprisesup to 65%
  • Medium enterprisesup to 55%

NB: Element A "Investments" candidates can choose one of the three applicable regimes according to their needs and the project’s specifics.

II. Grant’s intensity for Еlement Б „Services“:

  • The applicable regime for this element is the “de minimis” regime

Eligible candidates:

- Legal entities and merchants, registered according to the Bulgarian Commercial Act (or an equivalent entity under the legislation of a Member State of the European Economic Area),

- Candidates should haveminimum three completed fiscal years (2013, 2014 и 2015)

- Applicants should develop their main economic activity, according to КИД-2008 in the following sectors:

  • B „ Mining and quarrying industry “
  • C „ Manufacturing“
  • D„ Production and distribution of electricity, heat and gas fuels “
  • E „ Water supply; Sewerage, waste management and recovery “
  • F „Construction“

(not eligible for regional investment aid)

Eligible activities:

Element А „Investments“:

  • Investments for the implementation of energy efficiency measures included in the energy efficiency audit performed by persons registered under Art. 60 of the EEA
  • Each acitivity planned for implementation under Element A should lead to energy savings of at least 5%.

IMPORTANT: Applicants should note that activities related to the introduction of renewable energy sources does not constitute initial investment and therefore are not eligible for regional investment aid scheme. They are not eligible also for funding in the "investment aid for measures to increase energy efficiency" regime.

Еlement Б „Services“:

• Development of an investment project under the Law on Spatial Planning (LSP) relating to the project implementation
• Consultancy services for implementation and certification of energy management systems in enterprises, incl. in accordance with standard BS EN ISO 50001 (Energy Management Systems) / EN ISO 50001
• Purchase of materials that are directly related to the implementation of the activities included in Element A
• Publicity and visualization
• Audit Project - applicable for projects with grants higher than 750 000 EUR

Eligible costs:

Element А „Investments“:

• Costs for the acquisition of fixed assets - machines and equipment necessary for the implementation of the measures included in the energy audit

• Costs for the acquisition of tangible fixed assets (incl. cost for software development) necessary for the implementation of the measures included in the energy audit

• Costs forconstruction activities: (i) of production buildings and / or (ii) of energy efficiency measures directly related to and necessary for the commissioning of the assets included in the energy audit, if such measure is included in the energy audit

Note:In case of construction activities and / or acquisition of heating and cooling systems and / or production of electricity from renewable sources for own consumption, the costsfor their implementation must not constitute more than 50% of the project costs.

Element Б “Services

• Expenses for consultancy services for implementation and certification of energy management systems in enterprises, incl. in accordance with standard BS EN ISO 50001 management systems (energy) / EN ISO 50001

• Costs for the acquisition of an investment project under the Law on Spatial Planning (LSP) related to and necessary for the project implementation
• Costs for materials necessary for the implementation of measures under
Element A
• Costs for audit of the project - up to 5000 BGN
• Costs for publicity and visualization -
up to 3000 BGN

Note: The cost for Element Б "Services" shall not exceed 30% of the total eligible project costs.

Priority will be given to projects that are:
• implemented in sectors characterized by high energy intensity (chemical industry, steel production, production of cement, ceramics, glass, production of non-ferrous metals, paper) according to КИД 2008
• implemented
in the Northwest Planning Region
• include activities for wastewater treatment, recycling or use of recycled raw materials

Project duration:up to 18 months