Redazione Open Innovation
A new measure worth over EUR 27 million to support investment in research, development and innovation by Lombardy's SMEs.
The Regional Council of Lombardy, through a resolution, approved the essential elements and application criteria of the first measure that activates Axis 1 of the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) 2021-2027 Programme.
The measure is called “Ricerca & Innova” (Research and Innovate) and provides for the granting of a mixed grant, consisting partly of a subsidised loan and partly of non-repayable (capital) contributions. This is to cover the eligible project investment in full. This can range from a minimum of EUR 80,000 up to a maximum of EUR 1 million.
A significant focus is placed on Green projects and innovative start-ups and SMEs, which will be able to receive a specific increase in the grant.
The project and its strategic value
For “Ricerca & Innova”, the Regional Council has earmarked, in this first phase, around EUR 27.2 million from the ERDF 2021-2027 PR resources and from regional resources of a dedicated fund, in financial anticipation of the ERDF 2021-2027 Programme resources.
In the coming months, the approved resolution will be followed by the publication of the Implementation call and the opening of the application office.
Moreover, the Lombardy Region intends to give continuity to the measure throughout the 2021-2027 Programming cycle through the provision of periodic windows opening.
“The strategic objectives of the new measure”, said Regional Innovation Councillor Fabrizio Sala, “are the development of research and innovation capabilities and the introduction of advanced technologies in the Lombardy region, to help maintain and improve the competitiveness of the business fabric. Through "Ricerca & Innova" the Lombardy Region wants to help companies continue to invest in research and innovation. Also in this current context of a changed international economic environment, which has affected trade flows, supply chains, prices, development prospects and economic growth throughout Europe”.
The specific objectives
The purpose of the intervention is to support investments in industrial research, experimental development and process innovation (including digital innovation) by Lombardy's SMEs. This aims to promote the technological and digital innovation of companies through the design, testing and adoption of innovative solutions (new products, processes and more sustainable organisational models) of business production processes in the strategic areas identified by the Lombardy Region.
The measure represents an evolution and simplification of previous calls, such as the R&D Line for MSMEs - Frim ERDF 2020 and Tech Fast Lombardia, launched in the 2014-2020 ERDF programming.
Industrial research, experimental development and process innovation projects, i.e. innovation and/or digital transformation activities, are eligible for the call. Such as, for example, advanced manufacturing solutions, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, simulation, industrial internet, cloud, Cybersecurity, Big Data.
Projects must focus on topics related to the macro-themes of the Lombardy Region's Smart Specialisation Strategy for Research and Innovation - S3 2021-2027, which identifies specific sectors as development drivers in which to concentrate financial resources.
To be eligible, projects must therefore:
- be carried out within the framework of an operating site in the Lombardy region;
- envisage an amount of expenditure of no less than EUR 80,000;
- be started after the date of submission of the application for participation in the implementation call.
The amount of support envisaged
The subsidies are envisaged up to 100% of the eligible expenses, but not exceeding EUR 1 million, and in particular:
- for SMEs: 70% in the form of subsidised loans and the remaining 30% in the form of capital grants;
- in favour of innovative start-ups and SMEs: 65% in the form of subsidised loans and the remaining 35% in the form of capital grants;
- for green projects: 60% in the form of Subsidised Loans and the remaining 40% in the form of Capital Grants for green projects, understood as projects relating to macro-themes and/or priorities of the S3 that contribute to the objectives of the European New Green Deal, as better defined in the implementation call to be issued in the future.
How to participate
Once the call for applications is issued, applications can be submitted exclusively on the "Bandi Online" platform of the Lombardy Region.
The formal and merit-based assessment of the applications submitted will be carried out on the basis of a one-stop evaluation procedure. The chronological order in which they are received in the Regional Information System applies.
Awards are foreseen for:
- environmental sustainability, i.e. possession (at the time of application) of voluntary environmental certification;
- relevance of the female and youth component, if the applicant has (at the time of submitting the application) at least 50% of the corporate structure composed of female or young staff (less than or equal to 35 years of age);
- membership of one of the Lombardy Technology Clusters, certified with a letter of endorsement from their cluster.