Growth-driving innovation for free?

If your SME has Poland based operations, you can dramatically decrease your innovation costs

Photo by Holger Link on Unsplash

It is hard to reach a comfortable balance between investing in innovation and the return on that investment

Have you been thinking of improving an existing product, launching a new solution or adding a new feature to create a unique customer experience? Maybe you’ve been considering streamlining your processes or delivering a technology that can really make a difference?

As much as all these options might be of interest, your first dilemma might be whether to invest in R&D and design at all — since the return might come in a medium to long perspective, while you might have more immediate needs and goals. Or your investors might have a preference for short term focus.

The second dilemma, no less tricky is to pick out the right ideas that would drive your business growth. For as long as crystal ball as a service is not readily available, this dilemma is true for every company with limited resources. So unless you are getting close to being an Amazon of your industry, it is likely to apply to you as well.

Finding the golden balance between maximising the short term return and reinvesting in the right R&D is then a dual challenge that every entrepreneur has to face.

There are ways to mitigate the innovation investment risks, while keeping all of the returns

Driving your company’s innovation potential can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Having delivered multiple projects with Poland-based SMEs we know that there are practical ways to turn your ideas into viable solutions. Taking a customer-centric approach and early verification of assumptions via prototyping and testing is a good solution to the second dilemma we mentioned above (which idea has the best potential), be it in the case of a product or of a service innovation. Let us know if you would like to discuss how such a self-optimizing process could look like for you, even if your list of innovation ideas is short or even non-existent at this stage.

And even better, there are solutions also for the first dilemma (whether to invest innovation at this stage at all): we are here to share with you a few funding programs which can finance your innovation. It is still possible for your company to access some of the funding schemes under the 2014–2020 EU framework but do remember that it is the last year.

Inclusive Products and Services 2.3.5 POIR (Dostępność Plus)

· form of assistance: financial grant PLN 60 000 to 1 125 000.
· recipients: small and medium enterprises based in Poland
· planned opening for proposals: November 2020

You can drive the innovation potential of your business, develop a new product and make this world a more inclusive place for all. Dostępność Plus program offers financial grants for companies which would like to develop or improve a product (or service) for people with physical or cognitive impairment or disability. For example pregnant women, small children, people with visual impairment, people with limited mobility.

You can subsidize the development and implementation of the new product with the support of experienced designers. Expenses which can be subsidized cover diagnosis of your potential, formulating product development strategy, design and testing of the product as well as implementation of the new product or service. It is a great opportunity to create a commercially viable and inclusive product in collaboration with some of the best designers and advisors in the field.

Fast Track 1.1.1 POIR (Szybka Ścieżka)

· form of assistance: financial grant PLN 1 M — EUR 50 M
· recipients: small, medium and large enterprises based in Poland, enterprises in collaboration with Polish research institutes
· application deadline: 31st of December 2020

With the Fast Track program, you can finance R&D activities that will lead to implementation of an innovative product, service or technology. The innovation must be in one of the following areas: healthy society, bioeconomy, sustainable energy, circular economy, innovative technologies or industrial processes. You can subsidize costs related to remuneration, subcontracting, equipment leasing, laboratory equipment, project management and administration. The level of support depends on the company’s size and location. In 2019 alone, companies in Poland received a total of PLN 1.2 bn from the Fast Track grants.

It’s worth mentioning that along with the standard Fast Track scheme, enterprises can also apply for a special Fast Track scheme. It funds innovative solutions helping to contain the spread of contagious diseases with the emphasis on the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It also supports products, services and technologies, which help people function, work and learn during extended periods of social isolation, hence can be applied to a wide range of industries.

There are certainly other opportunities to bring user-centred innovation to your company to develop a well-performing product. If you’d like to know more about which EU grant type would best suit your current business needs, do not hesitate to get in touch!

By Jagoda Podrucka, Krzysztof Kwieciński and Andrzej Nagalski, PhD

We combine a strategic perspective with user-centric innovation to create, improve and scale services and organizations.

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