Support for innovative companies

Good news to start 2018 in the best of ways: as from January 8th new editions have been made available of the Digital Agenda and Sustainable Industry calls for tender, subsidised by the rotation fund for the support of companies and investments in research

by Renato Uggeri

The Ministry’s Decree (MD) dated July 24th, 2015, fixed the conditions for the financial support of two interventions of the Fund for sustainable development. Such interventions, subsidised by the resources of the Rotation fund for the support of companies and investments in research (FRI), created within the Deposit and Loan Institution, involve specifically an intervention supporting research and development projects in the IT and electronic communication sectors and for the enacting of the Italian Digital Agenda, and an intervention supporting research and development projects within the framework of specific themes relevant for “sustainable industry”. Successive MDs dated June 9th, 2016 and October 18th, 2017, brought some changes. Now, this new set of norms is defined by a different subdivision of support measures, granted as subsidised loans associated with ordinary bank loans, which may be supplemented by contributions towards expenses. The intensity of direct contributions to expenditure has also been increased: while in the previous version it was envisaged that these contributions should add up to no more than 15% of expenses accepted for small and medium enterprises and 10% for larger concerns, in the new version it is stated that the contribution may be granted in an amount equal to 20% of the accepted expenditure. This is therefore an important incentive supporting innovation even in SMEs.

A viable reprogramming of financial resources
Following the remarkable interest shown by companies, MD dated October 18th, 2017 took care of refinancing this intervention with 350 million euro, supported by FRI resources, for the grant of subsidised loans, and with 100 million euro, supported by FCS resources, to grant contributions towards expenses. Overall resources therefore add up to 980 million euro. This Decree also introduced some changes relative to the subsidised loans which now cover a nominal percentage of acceptable expenses for an amount of no less than than 50% and in any case no more than 60% for larger companies (as opposed to the previous limit of 50%) and 70 % for SMEs (60% in the previous version). The Director’s Decree dated July 14th, 2016, in compliance with MD dated July 24th, 2015, provided instructions for the enacting of interventions mentioned in MD dated October 15th, 2014 funded by resources of the FRI. Now, with Director’s Decree dated December 18th, 2017, the date when applications may start being filed for Sustainable Industry and Digital Agenda has been fixed at January 8th, 2018, having applied these changes. Activities concerning applications and documents required as attachments could already be prepared as from December 19th, 2017 using the digital platform provided by the Ministry for Economic Development (MED).

All the necessary information as to how to file the application
The application must be completed and handed in digitally by selecting one of the two procedures available on the website of the MED, depending on whether the application is being filed for the Digital Agenda or for the Sustainable Industry tender. Documents which must be attached to the application include a credit evaluation statement provided by one of the financing banks, chosen by the company and compliant with the conventions undersigned relative to the Digital Agenda and Sustainable Industry interventions.

Lists are published on the website of the Deposit and Loans Institution (Cassa Depositi e Prestiti).
All applicants, besides being subject during the selection phase to a check of the evaluation element of “technological know-how” mentioned n MD dated October 15th, 2014, should also provide a declaration, in lieu of a notary public’s statement, relative to expenses incurred in Italy for research and development and to the turnover. The application must therefore be filed along with the request for support from all the applicants except Spin-offs, which are not subject to evaluations.

Acceptable expenses and costs
Should the applicant wish to use the consolidated balance sheets of a controlling company to fill in the declaration on expenses for research and developments, subjects required to undersign the declaration are the legal representative of the applicant company, the legal representative of the controlling company and the chairman of the board of statutory auditors, or the single auditor of the controlling company. As foreseen by Director’s Decree dated October 11th 2016, acceptable expenses and costs must be borne directly by the beneficiary and must be paid by the same, as stated by the EU regulation n. 1303/2013 relative to the use of resources of European structural and investment funds (SIE funds). Therefore, only expenses and costs incurred by the beneficiary are acceptable, without prejudice to the fact that other companies in the same group may provide services to the beneficiary, writing out in this case to the company itself an invoice which may be accepted in relation to facilitation. Research organisms are not included among subjects which may benefit from support foreseen by MD dated October 15th, 2014. In any case, such organisms may take part in the research and development project as supplier of consulting services. Finally, the statement of credit capacity is provided by the financing bank according to the scheme defined by the Convention undersigned by the MED, the Deposit and Loan Institution and the Italian bank association, ABI.