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Funding for Proof-of-Concept projects utilizing AI

Business Finland’s AI Business program funds Finnish SMEs and mid cap companies (group-level turnover under MEUR 300) that are pursuing international competitive advantages. These projects must be research-based Proof-of-Concept projects related to the utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The purpose of the projects is to examine the functionality of new AI technologies and their suitability to solve an existing problem. The funding is meant for projects in which the AI model is learned from data. The solution must have a significant positive impact on the applicant’s international competitiveness. The solution can be based on open-source AI frameworks such as Tensorflow and PyTorch or commercial third-party solutions.

The problem that will be solved can be related to:

  • increasing the competitiveness of an existing product/service


  • researching new product or service concept.

Researching new product or service concept is recommended only for SMEs and mid cap companies that are more than five years old. Please note! Companies currently participating in the Young Innovative Company funding program CANNOT APPLY for this research funding.

The objective of the research project is not to create a finished product or service. The purpose is to acquire information about whether new AI technologies can improve the competitiveness of an existing product or service so much that it makes sense to productize the new version of the product or service, or whether the AI technology can be successfully utilized in a new product or service concept. In research-based Proof-of-Concept projects, only the research on the application of AI technologies can be funded, not the company’s other development or research activities.

The size of the Proof-of-Concept project is typically approximately EUR 100,000. The amount of grant for SMEs cannot exceed 50% of the project’s approved costs or 40% for mid-caps. Business Finland does not fund projects if the total costs remain below EUR 60,000. There will be no advance payment, so the company must have funding secured in the beginning of the project. The funding is grant for R&D, not de minimis aid. The project is carried out in a quick schedule. The typical duration is approximately six (6) months. Business Finland is prepared to support further development if the objectives set for the first phase are met.

When submitting the application, the company must have a good understanding of the problem area and access to the necessary data. It’s important that the applicant can clearly describe the following details in the application:

  • what is the problem that will be solved
  • how will the applicant’s business operations be impacted by the solution
  • which AI technologies will be applied
  • what kind of potential alternative solutions exist/are under development
  • what kind of data will be used to train the AI
  • how will the results be tested
  • what is the concrete and measurable objective of a successful research project'
  • how will the results of a successful project be utilized

If your initiative fits the above description, please draft a preliminary project plan and get in touch

Aki Ylönen
Business Finland
aki.ylonen (at)
+358 (0)50 3952 603

Outi Keski-Äijö
Business Finland
outi.keski-aijo (at)
+358 (0)50 5577 663

Read more about the AI Business program innovation funding and internationalization services.