Two actions to promote the competitiveness of SMEs recovery, spill-over effects on the territory
Twenty million euros to speed up innovation and promote the competitiveness of Lombardy's micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, also at an international level.
The Lombardy Region took action with two specific measures: "Tech Fast” will make available 19 million euros to fund experimental development projects and the technological and digital innovations of SMEs, for example in the fields of Cybersecurity, Cloud, Big Data, Additive Manufacturing.
‘Patents 2021' will contribute EUR 1 million towards the costs of obtaining European and international patents, or their extension, incurred by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
The double grant – to be funded from the 2014-2020 ERDF ROP resources – was approved by the Regional Council at its meeting on 29 March, on a motion of the Councillor for Education, Universities, Research, Innovation and Simplification, Fabrizio Sala.
“In this difficult economic context,” said Councillor Fabrizio Sala, “our companies risk falling behind in terms of competitiveness. Innovation, including digital innovation, is therefore essential to enable them to keep up with the times”.
“This is not just about research,” he said, “these measures aim to have direct spillover effects on the territory, with innovative products to be put on the market”.
Tech Fast, innovation accelerator: projects and requirements
The 'Tech Fast' measure aims to implement virtuous mechanisms to speed up innovation through experimental development and process innovation projects – development of prototypes, pilot products, testing and validation of new or improved products, processes or services – and digitisation projects for Lombardy’s SMEs.
The grants will cover 50% of eligible expenses up to a maximum of 250,000 euros per applicant.
The minimum expenditure required for experimental development and process innovation projects is EUR 80,000 per applicant.
Another important aspect is that the projects must be linked to the intelligent specialisation areas (S3) of the Lombardy Region (Aerospace, Agrifood, Eco-Industry, Creative and Cultural Industries, Health Industry, Advanced Manufacturing, Sustainable Mobility).
Each SME must carry out its project in an operation located in Lombardy and the project must start after submitting the application, with the call for applications to be issued soon.
SMEs may apply for grants covering for example personnel costs, tooling and equipment, costs of contractual research, knowledge and patents acquired or licensed from external sources, costs of consulting services, materials and supplies, as well as for overhead costs (for 15% of personnel costs).
Patents protecting industrial inventions: grants
The second measure approved is aimed at micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Lombardy or freelancers who want to obtain new European and international patents – or extensions of such patents at a European or international level – to protect industrial inventions.
The grant consists in a non-repayable lump-sum contribution to cover the costs of filing a new patent application or applying for its extension at a European or international level, certified by the acquisition of a search report by the competent body.
“Lombardy is the leading region in Italy in terms of applications for new patents," Sala emphasised, "and that is why we wanted to support companies with this non-repayable contribution to meet their needs. This is why it is also essential to try to bring one of the seats of the European Patent Court to Milan”.
Contributions will vary according to the type of patent and will amount to 80% of the flat-rate costs, i.e.:
- 5,680 euros for a new European patent/extension
- 7,200 euros for a new international patent/extension.
Again, the patents must be linked to the intelligent specialisation areas (S3) of the Lombardy Region, and be filed by SMEs or free-lancers with operations or offices in Lombardy.