Depending on the size, location and the type of funding applied for, business grant applications are submitted to the local Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre); Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, or to the Local Action Group. Business grants are discretionary and their amount varies according to the nature of the project. For more information go to: www.ely-keskus.fi, www.tekes.fi, www.aktion.fi, www.yhyres.fi.
The innovation voucher is intended for SMEs engaged in well-established business wishing to launch innovation activities. The company must have a nee product or service idea with international growth potential. Innovation activities refer to all measures employed by the company to develop its products, services or processes, or to acquire new knowledge and competencies required in innovation activities. The voucher is 6 200 € (5 000 € + VAT). You may use them for purchasing expert services related to innovation activities, for instance, from companies providing innovation services, universities, universities of applied sciences and research organisations. Innovation activities refer to all measures employed by the company to develop its products, services or processes, or to acquire new knowledge and competencies required in innovation activities.
The Rural Development Programme’s business grants
The grants awarded by the Rural Unit of the ELY Centre for Ostrobothnia can be sought by:
- microenterprises and small companies, located in rural areas (see map showing the non-rural areas), that are starting, expanding or developing their operations. The company can have no more than 49 employees and an annual turnover or balance sheet of MEUR 10 maximum.
- farms that are expanding their business activities outside agriculture
- SMEs (less than 250 employees), if their activities are based on the initial processing of agricultural products.
Investment grants can be awarded, for example, for constructing, repairing or acquiring a building that is necessary for business activities; for machinery and equipment and for acquiring long-term fixed assets. The amount of the grant for small companies (less than 50 employees) is 20% and for the processing of agricultural products 20–35%. The minimum amount of the investment is €10,000.
A new type of funding is the grant for starting a business. It provides entrepreneurs valuable support in getting started. A microenterprise or small company that is already in business can also apply for the grant for starting a business for the purpose of restructuring their business activities (for example, changing their line of business, offering products instead of services or adopting a completely new business model). The grant for starting a business can be awarded, for example, for product development, compiling a marketing plan, customs clearance or outsourcing services that are required for developing the company’s operations. The grant for starting a business cannot be awarded at the same time as a start-up grant.The grant for starting a business can also be awarded to new and more established microenterprises and small companies to help them to implement experiments that promote market and customer-oriented innovations. The grant is €5,000–35,000. The maximum amount granted for innovative trials is €10,000.
Another new type of funding is the grant for an investment feasibility study, which helps companies to investigate the economic, technical and operational prerequisites of an investment. It is 40–50% of all the admissible costs and is primarily awarded for the use of outside expert services.
As a rule, the following fields and actions are excluded from the grant:
- traffic and transport, except constructions in the bioenergy sector
- retail, wholesale and imports
- personal services in local markets (e.g. barbers, hair salons, massage therapists and beauty salons)
- the earthworks sector
- the building sector, including HPAC and electricity, if the company’s activities consist only of contract work
- food services, such as cafés, bars and lunch restaurants, except if the activities relate to tourism
- transport equipment, including tractors and excavation machinery
- vehicle purchases
- rental activities, except those relating to tourism
- stables for less than 10 horses, including trotters
For more information about the Rural Development Programme’s business grants, go to the Mavi Agency for Rural Affairs’ website at: http://www.mavi.fi/fi/tuet-ja-palvelut/yrittaja-kauppa-teollisuus/yritystuet/Sivut/yritystuet.aspx (in Finnish)
You can apply for a grant online via the Hyrrä Service at: www.mavi.fi/hyrra (in Finnish and Swedish)
Funding from a Local Action Group (the Rural Development Programme’s business grant)
Rural development and investment projects are an important part of rural development work. Aktion Österbotten R.F (more information at www.aktion.fi) is an association operating in the coastal region of Vaasa that promotes entrepreneurship in the area within the framework of the LEADER programme. In Laihia and Isokyrö, applications are submitted to the Yhyres Local Action Group (more information at www.yhyres.fi). The Local Action Group’s Board selects the projects which will be awarded grants, after which the ELY Centre verifies the legality of the projects and makes the final decisions on the grants.
Business development grant
Business developments grants can be awarded on a discretionary basis to well-planned projects that are estimated to have a significant effect on:
- starting, expanding or restructuring a company;
- strengthening innovation activities or know-how;
- growth or internationalisation;
- profitability or
- energy or material efficiency.
Business development grant for development operations and investments
Business development grants are awarded for development operations. Development operations refer to improving the company’s business competence, internationalisation, products, services or production methods, preparing projects and other significant development work comparable to these. The grant is 50% maximum of the total cost of the development.
It can be awarded, for example, for the following development costs:
- expenses incurred by the use of outside services and experts,
- expenses incurred by organising or participating in an exhibition or trade fair abroad,
- expenses incurred by the development of raw materials and semi-finished products in order to improve products and
- payroll, except employer’s contributions.
Business development grant for investments
A business development grant can also be awarded for material and immaterial investments. It is 20% maximum of the total cost of the development. In 2016, the ELY Centre of Ostrobothnia has in practice no financial resources to award grants for investments.
Business development services
The ELY Centre’s business development services are designed for SMEs that have at least one full accounting period behind them and that have the potential to develop and grow their business activities and employ people. The services include the identification of development needs (free), analysis, consultations and training. The Commercialisation of Innovations consultation can also be granted for newly-established businesses.
To find out more go to: www.yritystenkehittamispalvelut.fi (in Finnish and in Swedish)
The regulations concerning all companies
A company can be paid a maximum of €200,000 of de minimis aid over a period of three tax years. Aid can be granted for necessary and reasonable expenses incurred after the grant application has been submitted from the operation being supported.
Applications are mainly submitted electronically, and their processing begins after an acknowledgement of receipt has been received for them. For an electronic application, you will need a KATSO identifier (https://yritys.tunnistus.fi/en.jsp).
A project should not be started before the processing of the business grant application has begun. Applicants starting a project before receiving a written decision from the ELY Centre do so at their own risk.
It’s always a good idea to contact VASEK’s business advisors in matters concerning financial support; tel. 06 317 7600.
Find out more about the funding policies for Western Finland: http://www.ely-keskus.fi/documents/10191/57200/LS+RR-+alue+yritysrahoituslinjaukset+2015+Final+16+3+2015.pdf/e0b59e6e-0b82-4d0b-bc2a-f70d1e505c3f
Finnish Government decree on rural business grants: http://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2015/20150080
Hyrrä Service www.mavi.fi/hyrra
E-services for the business grants of the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment http://www.ely-keskus.fi/web/ely/yritystukien-sahkoinen-asiointi#.VV2k0EY8q4Y
ELY Centre www.ely-keskus.fi
Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation www.tekes.fi
Yhyres Local Action Group www.yhyres.fi
Aktion Österbotten r.f. www.aktion.fi