European subsidies chiefly support small businesses

Utilisation of European funding reserved for the 2014 – 2020 programming period only got up to full speed last year. Same as before, supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses is an integral part of the programme, as supporting enterprises is important for the whole European Union. Indeed, just for small and medium enterprises, the EU budgeted over €57 billion (approx. CZK 1.5 trillion), which roughly corresponds to 20 percent of the European Regional Development Fund budget. In most cases, support for enterprises means support for micro-enterprises which make up the majority of businesses in the EU. According to Eurostat surveys, 90 percent of all enterprises in the EU employ fewer than 10 employees. In the Czech Republic, such micro-enterprises comprise up to 96 percent of companies (only Greece and Slovakia report higher percentages), employing nearly one third of the workforce. Moreover, most of these enterprises comprise only a single self-employed person or an individual entrepreneur. While micro-enterprises represent the majority of companies in the Czech Republic, the number of small and medium enterprises is well below the EU average. They only represent 4 percent of companies, in contrast to neighbouring Germany where small and medium enterprises make up 18 percent of companies.

The Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness (OP EIC) is the key programme and a vital mediator of European funding aimed at supporting businesses. Over CZK 116 billion is allocated for the 2014 – 2020 period. The programme will support modernisation of manufacturing processes, creating, maintaining and improving know-how and, naturally, easing the situation of new entrepreneurs. In this regard, the OP EIC counts with support in the form of financial instruments such as loans, guarantees or special consultations for new entrepreneurs. Attention is paid especially to the so-called start-ups. While the OP EIC launch was delayed, the interest was apparently overwhelming. Currently, thousands of applications for support have been registered. This year, the applicants can expect calls for proposals in two main waves – in May and in August.

Czech entrepreneurs are also interested in the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education, which is administered by the Ministry of Education. Funds available through this programme total CZK 93 billion, a part of which will, this year and in the following years, be allocated to co-operation between educational institutions and companies as well as to applied research.

Another important mediator of European funding which plays a role in supporting enterprises, the Operational Programme Employment, has also had a good start. As of today, over 47 calls were announced, offering support worth CZK 46 billion. Support for businesses is naturally also a part of other operational programmes. These include the Integrated Regional Programme, the OP Environment, OP Transport or the Rural Development Programme, which has billions allocated for agricultural businesses and other entrepreneurs working on utilisation and revitalisation of the Czech countryside.

Filip Appl

 

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