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The main objective of this support measure is to increase R&D activities of companies and to improve the pro-innovation environment surrounding enterprises. It is one of the new instruments to be financed within the Regional Operational Programme 2014-2020 (Activity 1.2. of the Regional Operational Programme for the years 2014-2020 of the Śląskie Region). However, its design was inspired by a similar instrument implemented at national level during the previous programming period that provided support for business R&D activities. Within this support measure the funding is provided for the following types of projects:
The target group of this support measure are enterprises, but also consortia led by enterprises and encompassing other actors (e.g. science units, higher education institutions, research institutes).The financial allocation for this measure from EU funds amounts to 126,483,992 EUR.The intermediary institution for this measure, responsible for organization of calls and assessment of proposals, is the Silesian Entrepreneurship Centre (Śląskie Centrum Przedsiębiorczości).
The mid-term evaluation report on the Silesian Regional Operational Programme for the years 2014-2020 published in 2019 notes lower interest in the measures foreseen under Priority Axis no. 1 Modern Economy which includes this support measure. While interest (measured as a share of funds applied for in allocations for specific calls) in Activity 1.2. is higher than in other support measures under this axis, it is still below 100%. In relation to the whole axis, the report foresees that the achievement of financial objectives may be at risk.
One of the potential barriers to achieving progress in disbursing funds may relate to the limitation of support to smart specialisation areas. As the evaluators noted, due to the lack of experience in implementing support measures in smart specialisation areas, potential interest from enterprises in the offered support was overestimated. This could have been caused by the fact that, at the planning stage, focus was placed on the absorption potential of the Silesian R&D sector in smart specialisation areas (which would justify the large scale of offered support), with less consideration given to the more limited absorption potential of enterprises sector active in the smart specialisation areas. Another factor which influenced achievement of financial progress was the late publication of the first call for applications under Priority Axis no. 1 which only happened in mid 2016.
In summary, the most important “Do’s and Don’ts” when planning a similar measures are as follows:
The mid-term evaluation report on the Silesian Regional Operational Programme for the years 2014-2020 published in 2019 and the 2017 evaluation related specifically to the implementation of this support measure note that limitation of R&D interventions to smart specialisation areas is problematic. The evaluators specifically underscored that such a formula limits accessibility of support for R&D for companies from outside the region’s smart specialisation areas which would otherwise be interested in (and capable of) conducting R&D work.