Everything you need to know about the FENG program and the SMART path!

Key information:

  • Update - 29.03.2023! According to PARP, the application deadline for Round 1 of the SMART path under the EU FENG funding program has been extended to May 9, 2023!
  • The SMART Pathway is a program that allows businesses of all sizes to obtain funding.
  • Under the program, a company must complete at least one of the two mandatory modules (R&D module, innovation implementation module) and each of the 5 optional modules (R&D infrastructure module, digitization module, enterprise greening module, competence module, internationalization module).
  • Micro, small and medium-sized companies can participate in the program if they choose any of the two mandatory modules. Large companies must pursue the R&D module.
  • Funds from the grant can be used, among other things, to cover the costs of conducting research and development activities and the purchase of innovation support services.
  • The project should comply with the principle of equality, non-discrimination and sustainability, and a large enterprise should cooperate with entities in the SME sector.
  • Separate calls are carried out under each competition, divided into rounds held on different dates.
  • Other European Union funding programs include the Regional Operational Program, the Innovative Economy Operational Program and the Rural Development Program.
  • The documents needed to apply for EU grants 2023 are a formal application and a financial model for the company.
  • When writing an application for PARP funding, it is worthwhile to ensure proper planning, precise project description, compliance with the agency's priorities, and use of expert assistance.
  • If you need help with your application, the experts at ConQuest Consulting can help!

What is the FENG program and the SMART path?

European Funds for a Modern Economy is one of the programs offered by the National Research and Development Center, under which it is possible to receive financial support for research projects, technological development and the introduction of innovative products to the market.

The FENG 2021-2027 program allows micro, small, medium and large enterprises to receive grants. This is a competition for companies from EU funds, which Poland can use between 2021 and 2027. Supported projects are research and development, innovative and support the competitiveness of the Polish economy.

What is modularity in the SMART pathway?

Modularity is one of the key elements in the SMART path to successfully obtain European funding. It involves dividing the project into smaller, more precise modules that can be implemented independently of each other.

The application submitted by large companies must compulsorily include an R&D module. For small and medium-sized companies, it must include at least one of the R&D modules and the implementation of innovations.

R&D Module - The subject of the module is to conduct either industrial research or development work. The result of the R&D work planned in the module should be the development of an innovative solution that can be implemented in business.

Innovation implementation module - the purpose of the module is to implement in the applicant's enterprise in the territory of the Republic of Poland, the results of R&D work carried out by the applicant himself or on his order, or purchased by him outside the project, in the form of an innovative solution.

Additional modules under which support can be provided under the SMART path:

  • R&D infrastructure module - The module allows funding for the establishment or expansion of a research and development center in the territory of the Republic of Poland. The center must enable the implementation of the research agenda defined in the application leading to a product or process innovation on a national scale.
  • Digitization module - The module allows funding for digital transformation and ensuring cyber security of the Applicant's business operations. Activities planned in the module must lead to the implementation of a product or process innovation at least at the enterprise level.
  • Enterprise greening module - The module makes it possible to subsidize measures aimed at green transformation of the enterprise. The activities may concern improving waste management, increasing energy efficiency, reducing pollution, more efficient material management, eco-design or verification of environmental technologies.
  • Competence module - The support provided in the module enables employees and managers to improve their competencies, acquire new skills and knowledge, and acquire qualifications.
  • Internationalization module - The module covers activities related to foreign promotion of the applicant's products and activities related to obtaining protection of industrial property rights or defending them in case of infringement.

Who can benefit from FENG funding?

From a program supported by the Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy can benefit entrepreneurs, institutions from the scientific sector, consortia of enterprises, business environment institutions and innovation centers.

Those eligible for the program regardless of the path chosen can be entrepreneurs who conduct business of any size in Poland. Importantly, the Smart FENG path is designed for companies at different stages of development: those that are starting innovation activities, those that are developing them, and innovation leaders.

What can the grant money be used for?

In the case of the research and development module, the grant funds may be allocated to:

  • remuneration of research and development personnel,
  • Purchase of external services (subcontracting for research and consulting services related to the project) - a maximum of 70% of eligible industrial research and development costs incurred in the R&D Module,
  • Depreciation costs for scientific and research equipment and building depreciation,
  • The cost of leasing and perpetual use of land,
  • acquisition of intangible assets,
  • Operating costs and the purchase of materials and supplies directly related to R&D work,
  • indirect costs,
  • costs associated with the establishment of additional security for the grant agreement.

If the project provides for the implementation of more than one module in addition to the R&D module, R&D module costs must be at least 20% of the total eligible project costs. You can receive funding for a maximum of on 80% industrial research expenses and 60% development expenses.

In the case of the innovation implementation module, funds can be used for:

  • Purchase or lease of land and developed real estate,
  • Purchase or lease of fixed assets other than real estate,
  • Acquisition of works and construction materials,
  • acquisition of intangible assets,
  • Purchase of external services related to innovation support,
  • purchase of consulting services.

Under the pathway, you can receive funding to cover up to:

  • 70% expenditures on fixed assets, materials and construction work, and intangible assets,
  • 50% expenditures involving consulting services, including those supporting innovation,
  • 100% expenses related to the establishment of security for the grant agreement.

Where to look for FENG program funding?

When a company seeks funding from the FENG program, it should focus on On regional programs and the program for 6 provinces: Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Podlaskie, Lubelskie, Świętokrzyskie, Podkarpackie and the Mazowieckie region (excluding Warsaw and 9 neighboring counties).

Central programs are primarily for larger projects or those that are groundbreaking in their category. Regional programs and those for 6 provinces, on the other hand, support similar types of projects to those in the central programs, but are aimed at smaller companies and are important for the development of a given region. Entrepreneurs interested in obtaining funding should follow the schedules of competitions announced by the institutions responsible for programs financed by European Union funds.

What criteria must be met to obtain EU grants?

In order to obtain EU grants under the Smart Path, an entrepreneur must meet mandatory criteria at the level of the entire project and modules. Mandatory criteria include such issues as the applicant's qualification, project consistency, provision of financing, human and technical resources, and a reasonable implementation schedule.

It is also important that the project meets The principle of equality, non-discrimination and sustainable development, and a large enterprise has collaborated with entities in the SME sector.

The ranking criteria determine the number of points a project can receive for various categories, such as innovation, eco-innovation, collaboration with research organizations or NGOs, and positive impact on society's quality of life, social inclusion and slowing climate change.

What documents need to be submitted under the SMART path?

As part of the application for EU grants 2023 to the SMART track of the European Fund for the Modern Economy submit an application to be considered by the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development along with a separate document on the company's financial model. The documents can be supplemented with a graphic file that supplements the description of the research method.

Schedule of applications for the SMART path

Update! According to PARP, the application deadline for Round 1 of the SMART path under the EU FENG funding program has been extended to May 9, 2023!

There are separate calls divided into rounds for different competitions. In each of them, 3 dates are valid:

  1. Recruitment announcement, when entrepreneurs will get to know the rules of the competition, and the model application for funding,
  2. Start of recruitment, which is the day you can start submitting applications to the computer system,
  3. Completion of recruitment, which is the last day by which the application can be sent in the computer system.

Within the SMART path, there are 3 call time ranges announced for the 2023 competitions. These are:

  • 02.2023-12.05.2023 09.05.2023 (Updated March 29, 2023),
  • 04.2023-15.06.2023,
  • 09.2023-31.10.2023.

Other subsidy programs

In addition to the already mentioned NCRD's "European Funds for the Modern Economy" program, there are other sources of funding that may be of interest to companies seeking support for their development.

Regional Operational Program (ROP) is a program financed by European Union funds to support regional development in Poland. The program consists of several priority axes, under which various projects are implemented to improve the quality of life of residents, develop entrepreneurship and increase innovation in the regions.

One such program is, supported by the Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy, Operational Program Innovative Economy (OPIE), which aims to support investment in research and development projects and innovative technologies. This program is aimed at companies in various industries that want to introduce innovative solutions to their operations.

Another interesting program is Rural Development Program (RDP), which offers grants to entrepreneurs operating in rural areas. Under the program, support can be received for investments such as modernization of farms, construction and modernization of tourism infrastructure, or development of small and medium-sized enterprises in rural areas.

Best practices when writing a grant application to PARP

Writing a grant application to the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development can be complicated and time-consuming. In order to increase your chances of getting a grant, it's a good idea to follow good practices that will help you prepare an effective application.

First of all, you should carefully read the PARP requirements and plan the work schedule. The application should be prepared in accordance with formal requirements and include all necessary documents. Preparing a complete application may take time, so it is advisable to start work a few weeks before the submission deadline.

Second, The proposal should include specific goals and plans for implementing the project. The project description should be clear and readable, and the objectives should be measurable and achievable within the available budget. The advantages of the project for the company and the industry should be accurately presented, and the impact on the market and competition should be estimated.

Third, it is important to the project was in line with PARP's priorities and sector development plans, in which the company operates. The project should be in line with the agency's strategic goals, as well as respond to market needs.

Fourth it is worthwhile to take advantage of experts who can help prepare the application and provide advice during project implementation. Expert support can increase the chances of obtaining funding and help achieve project goals.

Expert assistance in creating a grant application

Completing a grant application is often a complicated process that requires knowledge and experience in the field of applying for EU funds. Therefore, Many companies choose to enlist the help of specialists to help correctly prepare the application and increase the chances of them getting 2023 grants. If you need support in this process - get in touch with us!

One type of assistance that can be obtained is consulting on grant applications. Consulting firms offer support at every stage of preparing an application, from evaluating the project and matching it to the competition, to completing it and preparing the necessary documents.

Another form of assistance is training on how to apply for funding. As part of such training, specialists share their knowledge and experience in the field of applying for EU funds, suggest best practices and strategies, and discuss formal and legal issues related to applying for funding.

In addition, there are also companies that specialize in verifying applications for funding. Such companies analyze the application for compliance with formal requirements, as well as assess its chances of obtaining funding.

As ConQuest Consulting, we have more than once assisted with the creation of individual parts of applications in such programs as SME Internationalization, Seal of Excellence, Go to Brand, Passports to Export, SMART. We invite you to learn more about our Case Study!

Let us help you fill out the application! Contact us now!

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    Anna Jurek

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