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According to the diagnosis presented in the Regional Operational Programme for Podkarpackie for 2014-2020, one of the significant barriers hindering the economic development of the Podkarpackie region is the low level of innovativeness of companies, the low ability of the R&D sector to create and diffuse the economically useful knowledge towards the companies, the low propensity to the mutual co-operation among the science units and enterprises, as well problems of the companies with the implementation of modern solutions. To address these challenges the regional decision makers earmarked financial support for the development of company R&D infrastructure and activities.
One of the measures aimed at the improvement of the ability of the Podkarpackie companies towards the R&D solutions development is the grant scheme type I “Innovation vouchers”, which is included in the measure 1.2. ”Improving the R&D of enterprises” and is implemented in the framework of the Regional Operational Programme for Podkarpackie for 2014-2020. According to the Programme, the objective of the measure is to strengthen the innovative capacity of companies by providing financial support for the preparation of ‘tailor-made’ future R&D company agendas and their feasibility studies. The eligible organisations for the provision of the abovementioned expert services is limited to research units that are accredited according to the Polish law.
The total budget for all types of the grant schemes included in the measure 1.2 amounts to €85m. The eligible beneficiaries in the case of Innovation Vouchers measure are SMEs from the Podkarpackie region.
In accordance with the mid-term evaluation of the Regional Operational Programme for Podkarpackie for 2014-2020, the overall achievement of the indicators (ratio of firms' expenditure on innovation activity in relation to GDP and ratio of firms' expenditure on R&D activity in relation to GDP) for the broader meaure 1.2. is lower than expected. However, the innovation vouchers themselves attracted a relatively high interest on the part of the eligible SMEs, raising the overall achievement of the relevant indicators for measure 1.2.
The relative attractiveness of the innovation vouchers for SMEs indicates that simplified application procedures and the possiblity to correct one's mistakes in the application are conducive to the success of the application of similar measures.