ERDF Business Enhance Grant Schemes
Article written by Darren Grasso – Executive, EU Funding
Published on The Malta Business Weekly – 16.03.17
In Malta, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) number some 30,000 enterprises. The Business Enhance Grants Schemes, part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), are aimed at supporting such enterprises when investing in projects. The funds help enterprises become more competitive, innovative and resilient to market challenges.
The Grant Schemes address a number of priorities under Operational Programme I for 2014-2020 entitled ‘Fostering a competitive and sustainable economy to meet our challenges’. A total of €51 million are to be invested in grant schemes to support enterprises.
There are four grant schemes currently available for businesses. The target groups of these schemes are (i) micro enterprises which are defined as entities with fewer than 10 employees and an annual turnover or balance sheet below €2 million; (ii) small enterprises which are defined as entities with fewer than 50 employees and an annual turnover or balance sheet below €10 million; and (iii) medium-sized enterprises which are defined as entities with fewer than 250 employees and annual turnover below €50 million or balance sheet below €43 million. The following is a description of each grant scheme available:
The SME Diversification and Innovation Grant Scheme: The need to ensure that SMEs sustain a high level of resilience through their ability to adapt rapidly to market requirements, innovate and keep up a steady investment momentum is crucial to Malta’s macro-economic and competitive performance. Diversification and innovation are key to the survival of enterprises. Timely intervention can avoid dire consequences leading to eventual closure or bankruptcy, and, moreover, enables the enterprise turnaround.
This Grant Scheme aims to incentivise SMEs to adapt and become more resilient and address market challenges whilst offering timely support to nurture the right environment towards the potential future business growth of the enterprise. It supports SMEs by part-financing 50% of expenditure on eligible costs in relation to the productive investment required to develop focused strategies in favour of diversification, a fundamental change, or to innovate and bring to the market significantly improved and advanced products or services to those already offered by the Undertaking.
SME Internationalisation Grant Scheme: The constraints emanating as a result of the size of the domestic market makes internationalisation crucial for SME business growth. Participation in international business promotion fairs remains an important instrument in targeting markets for SME internationalisation and provides SMEs with an opportunity to start building a network of business connections and overcome barriers to enter the targeted foreign market.
This grant scheme seeks to support SMEs by part-financing costs to participate in international business promotion fairs held outside Malta and aimed at introducing products or services to new markets.
SME Consultancy Services Grant Scheme: In today’s globally competitive environment, consultancy has become an ever present feature supporting enterprises in their decision-making processes by imparting valuable advice to businesses with a view to help them do things more effectively and efficiently. It is widely recognised that SMEs generally have limited in-house resources and competences required to conduct studies to assist them in their analysis prior to embarking on investment initiatives as well as in evaluating their growth and competitive potential.
This deficit leads to a high dependency on external consultancy services which is even more accentuated when considering businesses facing particular challenges in their operations. Timely intervention through consultancy services can provide the necessary insight to entrepreneurs to take-up adequate initiatives aimed at securing their survival and future business growth.
This scheme seeks to support the development of business plans, feasibility study operations review and a process and systems review. By means of this scheme enterprises may benefit from the potential of re-engineering the organisation and operations or the processes and systems of the undertaking aimed at rendering it more efficient.
E-Commerce Grant Scheme: E-Commerce represents an opportunity for businesses to exploit their potential to increase their market share and penetrate new markets. Statistical data indicates that enterprises in Malta have not as yet taken advantage of the islands’ strong IT infrastructure and the extensive possibilities it offers SMEs, particularly in facilitating their internationalisation efforts by reaching new clients and markets through online selling.
When considering the local scenario, notwithstanding the fact that most enterprises are IT-enabled, e-commerce remains relatively low and local businesses are still transitioning to e-commerce. In fact, enterprises conducting online sales currently stand at 14%. This measure is intended to support investment towards the design, development, implementation and delivery of an e-commerce website and/or a mobile application, or an upgrade of an existing website or mobile application to enable online sales or bookings. Through this grant scheme, enterprises will be encouraged and supported to increase their competitiveness by adopting e-commerce through online sales in their daily operations.
The Measures and Support Division within the Ministry for European Affairs has been designated by the Managing Authority as the intermediate body responsible for administering these grant schemes.
For more information about the Business Enhance Grant Schemes and other EU funding opportunities, contact MEUSAC on firstname.lastname@example.org or 2200 3300.