Funding for research and development (R&D): SMART Track

Funding for research and development (R&D): SMART Track

If you are reading this description, you probably already know something about research and development (R&D) projects. Perhaps you remember the previous call for applications for Fast Track, organised by the National Centre for Research and Development (Narodowe Centrum Badań i Rozwoju, NCBiR). Our team not only prepared application documentation for this competition, but also implemented its own R&D projects. In the current EU financial perspective for 2021-2027, SMART Track is the jewel in the crown of R&D competitions and, at the same time, the successor to Fast Track. If you have not dealt with R&D projects before, we are pleased that you have made it here. We will now present the rules of SMART Track, for both those who understand the essence of R&D projects and those who don’t (yet).

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    Who can take advantage of SMART Track?

    Long story short, anyone who conducts business activities in Poland confirmed by an entry in the relevant register: the National Court Register (Krajowy Rejestr Sądowy, KRS) or the Central Register and Information on Business Activity (Centralna Ewidencja i Informacja o Działalności Gospodarczej, CEIDG). The applicant is not required to have conducted business activities in the past, and there is no bonus for it. The applicant may belong to the SME sector. If so, the documentation is submitted via the IT system of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (Polska Agencja Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości, PARP). In other cases, the call for applications is organised by the NCBiR. The SME sector enjoys a higher level of funding, and its amount depends on the status of a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise. Complicated? Not a bit: we will explain it all to you in clear terms at a meeting.

    What can be financed?

    And now a slightly enigmatic term appears: research and development work. But let’s take it one step at a time… SMART Track makes it possible to implement the following modules:

    • R&D
    • implementation of innovations
    • R&D infrastructure
    • digitalisation
    • eco-friendly enterprises
    • competences
    • internationalisation.

    The above modules may be included in a single application for funding, which makes SMART Track a very practical one-stop shop. However, the obligatory module is R&D or Implementation of innovations (options available to SMEs) or the R&D module (for applicants from outside the SME sector).

    What is research and development work?

    We now enter into the world of R&D, which, despite the rather non-obvious name, is a very interesting form of transition from an idea to a project. There are very few activities that… cannot be classified as research and development activities. Here is the simplest definition of an R&D project: if we have identified a problem in our current or planned business practice and, as far as the eye can see, there is no solution to this problem in Poland, then this is a good starting point for an R&D project. We would not be here if the whole process of defining an R&D project and its financing was so intuitive but, for starters, let us challenge the common understanding of R&D projects as involving scientists in white lab coats carefully pouring colourful liquids into test tubes. If the above sounds overly optimistic to you, we recommend having a look at lists of previous R&D projects that received EU funding. At your request, we will show you where to look for projects related to your industry for which funding was previously obtained.

    Formally, an R&D project for which we would like to obtain EU funding should meet the minimum criteria for an EU project, i.e. should:

    • have a defined time frame
    • be unique
    • be complex, in addition to having:
    • a defined goal
    • human and financial resources allocated.

    To the above list, we then add the goal of creating new knowledge or inventing a new application. We achieve this goal through testing and measurement, which, in a nutshell, constitutes a research and development agenda. So little (if we already have a research team assembled and experience in implementing R&D projects) and … so much (if we do not have a team or experience). In either case, we carefully listen to what your starting point is and help you plan the entire process of creating R&D documentation.

    How much funding can I obtain for the R&D module?

    The maximum funding is 80% of eligible costs for the research part and 60% of eligible costs for the development component (regardless of the province in which the project will be implemented). However, there is no fixed upper limit for the amount from which we count the maximum funding mentioned above. It is worth adding here that the remaining eligible costs, including VAT, are covered by the applicant.