Business Finland is renewing its funding services to better support long-term research and development activities. The changes affect the following services: Innovation voucher, Young innovative companies, Tempo, Exhibition Explorer, Energy aid, Innovative public procurement, Orchestration of growth engines and Material audit. There are also changes to the funding levels of research and development funding and the de minimis funding conditions.
"We renew our funding services in such a way that they encourage companies to engage in more long-term research and development activities and create conditions for a sustainable international competitive advantage. The underlying cause is the allocation of Business Finland's granting authority to R&D activities, which reduces funding possibilities for other purposes", says Executive Director Timo Metsä-Tokila from Business Finland.
When making changes to the Innovation voucher, the recommendations of the 2022 evaluation of the service have also been taken into account.
The target group is limited to small companies less than 5 years old and the areas of use will also change. A 25% self-financing share will be introduced. There will be also requirements for the service provider's skills and experience.
With the Innovation voucher companies can acquire expert services for developing product or service ideas.
The Innovation voucher call was closed on October 8, 2023. Applications submitted in 2023 will be evaluated based on the funding guidelines at the time of application. The Innovation voucher can be applied from January 24, 2024 under new conditions.
The renewed Innovation voucher is intended for small companies under 5 years old that have a new product or service idea with international potential.
The uses of the voucher have been specified in such a way that the funding encourages companies to engage in R&D. The renewed uses are:
In the revised voucher, the amount of the grant is 75% of the value-added tax-free amount of the purchased expert services and max 4,500 euros. The self-financing share is 25% of the eligible costs.
The service provider can still be freely chosen, but the condition for granting funding is that the service provider has sufficient expertise and experience in developing prototypes, protecting industrial rights and/or measurement and testing services related to innovation.
Read more on the Innovation voucher page.
The form of funding for the third period has changed to a grant instead of a loan.
Young Innovative Company funding is intended for startups with a high business potential that have been in operation for less than five years. Funding enables the company to invest in the growth of international business and, in addition, strengthen the team, develop its business model and growth strategy, and target new markets.
The funding service has been renewed on January 1, 2024. In the renewed form, the funding is entirely a grant instead of the previous grant-loan combination. Also, the amount of funding changes so that the company can be granted a grant of up to EUR 1 million, which is divided into three phases (1st phase 250,000 e, 2nd phase 250,000 e and 3rd phase 500,000 e). Progress from one phase to the next one is always evaluated based on the company's progress and the achievement of the goals set for the completed phase.
The change in the funding service will improve the opportunities for young innovative companies to grow quickly.
For companies selected for the NIY program before 1 January 2024, the funding model is in accordance with two grant phases and one loan phase.
Read more on the NIY website.
A new requirement is a follow-up plan for research and development measures. The opening of the call will be announced later.
Tempo funding is intended for under 5 years old startup companies with a new product or service idea. With funding, the company can prepare for international growth by obtaining feedback from potential customers and mapping the product's demand and functionality in the international market.
The financial service is reformed in such a way that the company is required to have a realistic follow-up plan for research and development measures to put the idea into practice, if Tempo project´s results encourage it.
Tempo call was closed on October 8, 2023. The opening of the call will be announced later.
Applications submitted in 2023 will be evaluated based on the funding guidelines at the time of application.
Read more on the Tempo page.
If the amendment to the regulation enters into force, the funding will change in such a way that it can be granted to an individual company for a maximum of one trade fair event during the calendar year. In addition, there will be new restrictions on eligible costs and the grant level will become the same for companies of different sizes.
The Exhibition Explorer funding is aid for participation in international B2B trade fairs held outside Finland. The financing is intended for SMEs and midcap companies that want to increase the export of their own products or services.
If the amendment to the regulation that is in the opinion round enters into force, the funding will be reformed so that funding is granted to an individual company for a maximum of one trade fair event during the calendar year. The new requirement is also that the company must have a committed team of at least two people working in Finland. In addition, freight costs and fair training are no longer acceptable costs. The grant is maximum of 50% of the eligible costs, which applies not only to SMEs but also to midcap companies.
Exhibition Explorer applications are received continuously. However, funding decisions can be made in February at the earliest, when the new government regulation on joint ventures between companies is expected to enter into force.
The information will be updated on the Exhibition Explorer page.
Funding criteria will be tightened.
Based on the 2024 state budget, there will be a significant drop in the amount of the energy aid authority, which will lead to a tightening of the funding criteria. There will be more information about the funding criteria for 2024 and the opening of the application service during February.
The information is updated on the Energy aid page.
Changes to the uses of funding
Innovative public procurement funding is intended for contracting entities referred to in the Act on Public Procurement and Concession Contracts such as municipalities, agencies and other publicly owned operators subject to the Procurement Act. The funding strives to develop innovative solutions to reform services and operations.
Updates have been made to the funding criteria for innovative public procurement, which has come into force at the beginning of 2024. In the future, at least 80 % of the project costs must consist of research and development. R&D work of the project will be evaluated project-by-project.
The criteria for separate funding calls and campaigns are defined on a campaign-by-campaign basis, so updating the criteria does not directly apply to them.
Read more on the Innovative public procurement page.
The call will be closed for new applications for the time being.
Business Finland's granting authority is allocated in the state budget to research and development activities, which reduces the possibilities of using the funding for other purposes. Therefore, the funding of new growth engine orchestration projects will be stopped for the time being. The last date for applying for funding is January 29, 2024.
Further stages included in the project plans of orchestration projects that have already been funded can be funded at discretion, if they have progressed according to their goals. These further fundings are applied for through a project change.
Read more on the Orchestration of growth engines page.
Ending, the last date for applying is 29 January.
Business Finland's granting authority is allocated in the state budget to research and development activities, which reduces the possibilities of using the funding for other purposes. Therefore, it has been decided to stop funding for material audits for the time being. The last date for applying for funding is January 29, 2024.
Funding for material audits was transferred to Business Finland at the beginning of 2020. In the same context, the operation was updated in cooperation between Motiva Oy and Business Finland. Motiva's share of material audit has already been cut in the past, and the continuation of Business Finland's funding service would require significant further development. It has been decided to allocate these resources to the promotion of R&D activities, as the provision, development and maintenance of a large set of funding services also consumes significant operational expenditure resources.
Business Finland encourages its customers to promote material efficiency and sustainable use of natural resources in the future in cooperation with professionals familiar with material and waste analysis.
Read more on the Material audit funding page.
Changes to the calculation of the follow-up period, the maximum amount and reporting.
De minimis aid refers to public funding granted to companies, governed by the European Commission's regulation. With the new de minimis regulation that entered into force at the beginning of 2024, the applicant for funding must declare all de minimis aid granted to Finnish companies in the same group or same control over the period of 3 years preceding the time of submitting the application. Business Finland's aid, together with other de minimis aid, must not exceed EUR 300,000 during any three-year period.
The conditions for all de minimis based financial services have been supplemented so that when reporting the results of the funded project, the recipient of the funding must be able to demonstrate how the project plan has been implemented and what has been achieved as a result of the measures.
Read more about the de minimis aid.
Additional incentive for industrial research projects
In the research and development funding service, a higher grant level has been introduced for research projects which are purely industrial research. Projects can be joint projects of companies or projects of one company. When the project is purely industrial research, grant funding for SMEs is 60% of the total eligible costs (when it is 50% in other research projects) and 50% for midcap and other large companies (when it is 40% in other research projects).
The increased grant level encourages companies to engage in long-term R&D work and enables greater risk-taking in the research phase.
The reopening will be announced later.
Market Explorer, intended for acquiring market information, and the Into funding service, intended for increasing innovation expertise, closed on October 8, 2023 due to a backlog of applications. The opening of applications will be announced later. There will be no changes to these services at this moment.