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Group Explorer

The Group Explorer funding service is intended for business groups to assess joint business opportunities in export markets.

For whom?

The Group Explorer funding service is intended for business groups to assess joint business opportunities in export markets. The funding may be granted to groups of 4-10 companies that are eligible for support and have a joint offering or other strong interest to work together with an identified business opportunity. The group must include at least four companies from different corporate groups, but several companies from the same corporate group may be involved.

The project is evaluated as a whole, the criteria for evaluation are

  • the significance of the business opportunity
  • the synergy between companies and their readiness for international growth and
  • impact of the planned international activities on companies' business in target market  

What?

For SMEs, the funding is a de minimis grant of 50% of approved purchased services. For large companies, the level of support is 40%. The recommended project duration is one year.

In addition to providing funding, Business Finland can assist in identifying suitable service providers in the target markets and in Finland. The Expert Search service can also be used to find export market experts.

When to apply?

Group Explorer is a suitable funding service, when

  • there is a clear synergy in a group of applicants
  • the project promotes companies' international growth
  • the extent of opportunities in export markets is such that demand cannot be met by a single company. e.g. a common customer segment
  • the business group requires contacts, background information or a service provider to assist in assessing international business opportunities
  • There are enough resources and a wide range of skills available for development. We do not award funding to single-person businesses. At minimum, your team must consist of, for example, one full-time person and two half-time persons in Finland.

When not to apply?

  • the company has exceeded its de minimis quota
  • the company has tax liabilities
  • the company's Rating alfa is below A
  • the applicant is a public or non-profit organization or a company registered in Ă…land
  • the company's line of business is not eligible for de minimis funding (primary agricultural production, fishing and aquaculture)

Business group funding cannot be granted if any of the aforementioned situations apply to one or several companies.

What can the funding be used for?

The business group can use the funding to, for example:

  • develop capabilities for internationalization
  • conduct tests on market interest in the innovation
  • investigate the value network related to the product or service and potential distribution channels and means for market entry
    • surveys are permitted in which results are documented information presenting potential distributors, transporters and storers
    • discovering new actors and operators, gathering information, and discussing the terms and conditions of potential cooperation
    • It is also allowed, for example, to have model contracts and it is allowed to show a model contract to potential partners and ask what changes are needed to make cooperation possible
  • network with relevant partners and influencers
  • plan a joint business model for export markets

The business group may use the funding for purchased services, including:

  • services by an external project manager
  • organizing events in the target country
  • services by consultants to support in the development of a joint business model or internationalization capabilities
  • conducting market surveys and other research on the target country
  • expert services for organizing visits by buyers to Finland

Other costs are accepted by a calculated coefficient of max. 20% of eligible purchase cost. Other costs may include interpreting, travel, salary, freight and catering costs, as well as rent for events. These deferred expenses do not need to be itemized and need not be recorded in the project accounts.

What is the funding not intended for?

The funding may not be used for:

  • sectors which are excluded from de minimis funding (primary agricultural production, fisheries and aquaculture).
  • expert services not related to the development of internationalization capabilities, such as general business consulting services or expert services related to product development
  • export activities, i.e. running costs directly related to export volumes, the establishment and operations of a distribution network or any other export activities.
    • It is prohibited, for example, arranging a commercial agreement and commercial cooperation.
    • It is also prohibited supporting, for example, for the financing of warehouse buildings, distribution points and logistics centers and other direct investment related to distribution and distribution activities.
  • staff training

The beneficiary must arrange its accounting so as to facilitate the itemization of costs incurred from the project for outsourced services, and the verification of their connection with accounting and the cost statement.

Amount of funding

The amount of funding is between EUR 2,500 and EUR 20,000 per company. Business Finland's de minimis grant for SMEs covers 50 percent of the total costs, and the SME must cover the remaining 50 percent. The grant for large and mid cap companies is 40 percent, and the company must cover the remaining 60 percent.

This funding constitutes a grant which the company does not need to repay. The funding is paid after the final report is approved.

In the final report to Business Finland, the company indicate the joint activities it has participated in, the costs incurred in these, and the service providers. 

About de minimis aid

Group Explorer is a form of de minimis aid as defined by the European Commission. The maximum permissible sum of de minimis aid to a company is 200,000 euros over the current and two previous fiscal years. Separate instructions have been issued on de minimis funding, and applicants are strongly advised to familiarize themselves with these.

When applying, the company must assess its received amount of de minimis funding in previous years. The company is responsible for monitoring that its de minimis quota is not exceeded. In addition to Business Finland, de minimis aid is granted by many public organizations, such as Finnvera and regional ELY Centres.

More information on de minimis funding

How to apply for funding

For ease of processing the applications, each company in the business group must file its application within two weeks after the first application filed by a member of the group.

Applications belonging to the same project must share an identical name. The business group should ask the Business Finland contact person for a "Group Explorer ID" when applying.

Funding is applied in the Business Finland Online Service.

State which service provider you will use on the project

During the application phase, companies must have a preliminary understanding of the service provider for the expert services. In particular, the project manager should be known already during the application phase. The service provider may be changed during the project if this is necessary to achieve the project's aims.

Please note that the companies and their service providers may not be linked as associated companies (see further details in section 7.8 of the De Minimis Funding Terms and Conditions).

Enter your company's share of the costs in the cost estimate

In the application's project cost estimate, indicate only applicant company's share of services to be purchased.

A computational share of 20% of other costs may be accepted in the budget.

Other costs include overhead, travel, material and equipment costs, rents and machinery and equipment purchases, and machinery and equipment depreciation and leasing costs (incl. cloud services). The funder will approve such costs up to 20% of the amount of purchased services. These costs need not be reported to the funder, nor do they need to be included in the beneficiary's project accounting.

The business group shall determine the division of costs between its member companies. The amount of funding applied from Business Finland is 50% (large companies 40%) of approved costs. Individual companies need not include a company-specific project plan in their applications; instead, the project's content is described in the application form. The business group's joint project plan must be included as an appendix to each of the applications.

Describe your company's objectives

In the application, the company must specify between 2 to 5 goals, the achievement of which is tracked by the funder. Possible goals include the following:

  • The company investigates the potential of its product in the x market and obtains sufficient information to launch export activities
  • The company identifies a total of x potential distributors/customers in the x market.
  • The company prepares an internationalization strategy or a plan for establishing itself in the target market
  • The company investigates the suitability of its product strategy/business model as part of the joint offering of the business group
  • The company gains an understanding of the value network of the target market and a model for its or the business group's potential market entry

Contact

Senior Advisor

Harriet Gullstén

+358 50 557 7776

Q&A