The “Innovation Vouchers” Programme, aims to introduce SMEs to the concept of Innovation, and to encourage the cooperation between enterprises and knowledge intensive organisations, aiming at the involvement of SMEs in innovative activities, therefore positively affecting their competitiveness.
The award of Innovation Coupons aims to contribute to the mitigation of one of the most important challenges that usually appear during the application of programmes and measures aiming to develop innovative activities, which is the difficulty to be exploited by a large number of enterprises.
The experience gained from national and European programmes that the RIF promotes, shows that in recent years positively changed Cypriot SMEs’ involvement in activities of research, development and innovation. However, those are limited to the participation of a relatively small number of enterprises, which either have the ability to get involved in research and innovation projects on their own, or have received assistance by other organisations who have consistently supported their efforts for participation.
There is therefore the need to adopt measures addressing the majority of SMEs. These measures should comprise simple participation procedures during the proposal submission, and fast implementation of projects.
The “Innovation Vouchers” Programme is a simple, yet effective instrument that allows SMEs to realize the importance and benefits that could emerge from their involvement in innovative actions, and to exploit the technical knowhow of organisations that can contribute by offering solutions to the problems they are facing, while increasing their abilities in the research and innovation areas.
The “Innovation Vouchers” are internationally considered as one of the simplest forms of funding towards enterprises, aiming to support them to obtain basic knowledge and to improve their ability for innovation and development through their cooperation with knowledge intensive organisations.
They are characterised by the relatively simple proposal submission procedure, short timeframes for evaluation and announcement of the results, as well as the fast project implementation and problem solving.
For establishing the partnership, the RIF offers interested SMEs, “Innovation Vouchers” which can be used in exchange of specific services offered by specific organisations to the SMEs.
Through the Programme, the country’s SMEs are anticipated to approach knowledge intensive organisations, aiming to receive support in matters of innovation for issues concerning their products / services / production methods.
As the Programme is part of Pillar III of the Smart Specialisation Strategy, which aims to upgrade the RTDI System in Cyprus, the thematic selection of projects does not apply.
Specific Participation Restrictions and Conditions
The Host Organisation of a project must be a Small or Medium Sized Enterprise (B1, B2).
The participation of Partner Organisations and Foreign Research Organisations is not permitted.
The Innovation Vouchers can be redeemed by knowledge intensive organisations.
Each SME is entitled to one Voucher for every type of Innovation Voucher.
The projects concern the purchase of specific consulting services in issues related to innovation.
Duration of Project Implementation
The deposit of a Voucher at the RIF for redemption must be done within a period of six (6) months of its issue date. After the period of six (6) months, the Voucher will be considered as invalid without any possibility for extension.
Maximum Funding per Project
There are two (2) types of Vouchers, worth €2.500 and €5.000, as follows:
I. Innovation Voucher A – (€2.500)
- Consulting services for the development of technological applications,
- Consulting services for technology transfer and technical knowhow, and
- Techno-economic studies for innovative products and services.
II. Innovation Voucher B – (€5.000)
- Measurements, tests and analyses,
- Access to research infrastructure and databases,
- Secondment of highly qualified research personnel, from research/academic organisations, to carry out innovation projects, and
- Prototype design and construction.
The Innovation Voucher cannot be used for:
- Personnel training,
- Purchase of equipment,
- Purchase of software / configuration of software (off the shelf solutions),
- Marketing or branding of products, and
- Usual consulting services, without particular innovative dimension.
Cost for External Services for the abovementioned services.
Funding is carried out as a one-off payment, in the form of De Minimis aid (Commission Regulation, No 1407/2013 of 18 December 2013).
In any case, the total funding may not surpass the real cost of services provided, according to the relevant invoice.
The VAT is eligible.
Approval of applications for funding is not subject to competitive procedures.
Selection of Projects
Prioritised in order of submission to the RIF (non-competitive procedures apply), on the condition that proposals have been deemed eligible for funding following the internal evaluation procedure until the sum of:
- the requested funding in proposals submitted to the RIF and that of ongoing projects, and
- The approved funding for projects that have been completed,
equals the total Call budget.