Under Operational Programme I (OPI) for Malta’s EU Cohesion Policy programme for 2014-2020, €51m have been earmarked for ERDF Grant Schemes in aid of enterprises. The Measures and Support Division within the Ministry for European Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto has been designated as the Intermediary Body (IB) responsible for centrally administering and managing these grant schemes.
On 13th July 2016 the IB launched the first call for the SME Growth Grant Scheme and the Start-up Investment Grant Scheme. These calls closed on Friday 30th September 2016.
On 3rd October 2016, the IB launched the SME Diversification and Innovation Grant Scheme and the SME Internationalisation Grant Scheme. These schemes are demand driven and managed through an open rolling call. Applications are being accepted as from 10th October 2016.
The remaining 2 grant schemes i.e. the SME Consultancy Services Grant Scheme and the e-Commerce Grant Scheme have also been launched.
The six grant schemes, with a value of €31m, are aimed at supporting SME investments within the ICT sector and various initiatives to enhance SME competitiveness. These four grant schemes which are still open are described in further detail below
Four schemes have been launched to date. These are:
(1) The SME Diversification and Innovation Grant Scheme
The SME Diversification and Innovation Grant Scheme will assist SMEs through non-repayable grants to:
- Part-finance investment to develop focused strategies;
- Implement an investment in favour of diversification; or
- Support investment that will create significantly improved and advanced products or services in addition to those already offered by the undertaking.
Eligible enterprises may receive assistance of up to a maximum grant value of €200,000 with an aid intensity of 50% on eligible expenditure.
Eligible Costs consists of:
- Leasing/rental of privately owned operational premises
- Construction/up-grading costs
- Purchasing of new equipment, machinery and/or plant
- Patents and licenses
- Wage costs related to the wage of a Change Manager employed specifically through the project to drive the necessary change within the enterprise through the diversification or a fundamental change initiative.
(2) SME Internationalisation Grant Scheme
The SME Internationalisation Grant Scheme is intended to:
- Facilitate the process of the internationalisation of SMEs through active participation at international business promotion fairs;
- Internationalise the undertaking by means of introduction of its products or services to new markets and the strengthening of its international market presence.
The maximum grant of the scheme is €10,000, part-financing 50% of eligible expenditure.
This incentive supports SMEs actively participating in International Business Promotion Fairs, by covering part of the costs required to set-up and run a stand to exhibit their products/services, by covering a number of costs items including travel costs and per diem for up to 2 employees/directors of the Enterprise up to fixed thresholds.
Eligible Costs consists of:
- Participation fee
- Rental of the exhibition space/stand
- Costs related to the construction and setting-up of the stand
- Travel Costs
- Per Diem
- Design and printing of branding material
- Shipment of exhibits
(3) SME Consultancy Services Grant Scheme
The SME Consultancy Services Grant Scheme seeks to support SMEs through the provision of assistance in the form of a non-repayable grant to cover part of the costs incurred for external consultancy services. These grants can be used to engage external consultants to draw up business plans, feasibility studies, organisation and operational reviews, and process and systems reviews. The maximum grant value under this scheme is set at €4,000 part-financing up to 80% of eligible costs.
Eligible Costs – The scheme covers consultancy services procured from external consultancy service providers registered with the Intermediate Body under the scheme. The consultancy services covered by the grant are meant to primarily address services in relation to formulating and executing the business’ business plan and feasibility study support, including assistance with sourcing financing for such business plan.
(4) e-Commerce Grant Scheme
The e-Commerce Grant Scheme seeks to assist undertakings through a non-repayable grant to part-finance investment for the development of e-commerce websites and/or mobile applications. The investment should enable online payments or booking systems through the integration of an online payment gateway. Upgrades to existing systems are also eligible. The maximum grant value under this scheme is set at €5,000 part-financing up to 50% of eligible costs.