Challenge Fund FAQs – 2nd call

Questions and Answers for the 2nd call of the Challenge Fund

Q.1 Is it possible to have the guideline of the applicants and the application form in the Albanian language.

A.1 As per the procedure the guideline of the applicants and the application form for Window 1 and Window 2 of the Challenge Fund are only in English language to allow a transparent process.

Q.2 I have a limited liability company that I founded in June 2019. According to the guideline of the applicants we should have at least 12 months of activity. Can I apply at the Challenge fund?

A.2 As per the guideline of the applicants for the Window 1, a start-up is defined as a newly emerged business venture within the first three years of operation. Since your company is founded in June 2019 it belongs to the following subcategory of the Window 1;

  • early stage start-ups eligible to apply for a grant up to 15 000 EUR (which is a registered business entity within the first 0-12 month of operation, from the official registration of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals)

Q.3 Can I know more about the Challenge Fund: the steps for applying, the documents that are needed and the address to send the documents.

A.3 All the information about the Challenge Fund guideline of the applicants and application process you may find by reading carefully the instructions on the following web

Q.4 Our association was founded in the year 2014 and the aim of our organization is social, cultural and economic inclusion of vulnerable groups offering activities for all these groups with special focus on youth and women. We are exploring the opportunities for building a centre for processing of medical herbs and forest fruits thereby ensure employment to these vulnerable women. We need funds to increase our production/gathering capacities by purchasing new equipment. Further we need the below clarifications: Is it an obstacle for us that our association is founded in 2014 year and is our idea supported by your project; medical plants and forest fruits

A.4 Your association’s registration date falls outside the period of 0-3 years and is thus not eligible to apply under Window 1. Nevertheless, you are eligible to apply under Window 2, with the following criteria: Window 2 of the ‘’Innovation challenge fund 2nd  call’’ is open to all innovation service and promotion providers such as Albanian incubators, accelerators, science parks, innovation hubs, co-working facilities, technology transfer offices, innovation clubs, specialised media on innovation, financial intermediaries, innovation education providers and others agents engaged in providing services to innovative start-ups as well as involved in developing the Albanian innovation ecosystem including promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. These providers might be private, public or NGO entities, for-profit or non-profit, already in operation or in an early stage of development (minimum 12 month). University-based innovation providers are especially encouraged to apply, as well as collaborations between academia and business along the triple helix concept.

Q.5 May I kindly ask you how should I proceed to apply for this call of the Challenge Fund

A.5 All the information about the Challenge Fund guideline of the applicants and application process you may find by reading carefully the instructions on the following web

Questions and Answers week 1 (14-18 October)

Q1: I’m writing on the behalf of the clients that my consultancy studio is offering consultancy related to the Challenge fund 2 nd call. In the following there are 3 questions from my clients; The first client has already an agro-tourism business for 2 years by now. He wants to replace the electricity energy with solar panels covering all the needs for electricity in its business. Is it an eligible project for the challenge fund?

A.1 Yes, you can apply to the Challenge Fund. Of-course the evaluation team will have to evaluate the many characteristics of the proposed project, in terms of location, is this innovative in the area where the agro-tourism business operates, what kind of technology will be used, what is the added value that is brought into the business etc.

Q.1.2 The second client has for 10 years by now a fashion business. The owner wants to expand the business with new sewing machines of the new technology and expand the premises. Is it eligible project for the challenge fund also?

A.1.2 If the start-up register date is older than 3 years, than it is not eligible for the Challenge Fund.

Q.1.3 The third client is an academic/ professional school for agribusiness. This School has its practical premises where the students make practices in new technologies of planting or new technologies in agriculture in general. Is it eligible that this school to apply for a greenhouse with the new technology of solar panels heating?

A.1.3 No, the school cannot apply to the Challenge Fund to build a greenhouse with solar panels heating.

Q.2 According to the guideline of the applicants Value Added Tax is non-eligible costs. Invoices for the products I will buy will be VAT included. What do you cover? Total value of the product with VAT included or value of the product without VAT? If the value of the product without VAT is covered, then the co-financing% will be more than 50% because the value of the VAT for a project of 50,000 euro (approx. 6,000,000 lek) goes up to 1,000,000 lek.

A.2 The Value Added Tax is not an eligible cost, which means that it needs to be deducted from your cost-sharing budget that you submit to the Challenge Fun. All costs stated in the budget will have to be without VAT.

Q.3.1 In the guideline of the applicants document is specified that the applicant must provide minimum 50% of cost share (of the total value of the project). For example, if we are an ISO, applying for a grant to 100 000 EUR, we should contribute another 100.000 EU budget?

A.3.1 Yes

Q.3.2 Will the contribution part be monitored and justified during implementation?

A.3.2 Yes, the contribution part from the applicant part as well will be monitored and justified during the implementation of the project.

Q.3.3 Regarding partnerships, which as far as I understand is not mandatory, which entity can be a partner? If it's a start up, do we need to implement the project together and increase the capacity of this entity, or should the project, through its activities, affect the improvement of start-UPs in general in Albania? Do we need to say (specify) in the project which start-up will be impacted, maybe local area?

A.3.3 If you are applying as an Innovation Supporting Organization, you can mention any possible partnership that you may have / aim to build in order to strengthen your contribution as an organization towards supporting the start-up eco-system in your municipality or beyond.

Q.4. My business idea is to produce beer, but the main scope and innovative aspect is the use of Albanian Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) in the production, which importance for Albania and their comparative advantage is well known/documented. From a product point of view the choice of using Albanian MAPs comes from their excellent organoleptic properties, positive health effects and surely for the diversification of a product which is strongly related to local territory. I would really appreciate if you could give me a definite answer after these arguments.

A.4 As per the guidelines of the Challenge Fund, “There are no limits in terms of sector or business focus apart from those normal in donor support such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco, weapons etc. Nevertheless, the Innovation Challenge fund will favor sectors with considerable importance to the current Albanian economy and/or in which Albanian economy is considered to have comparative advantage in a regional, EU or global context…”, your business idea is on the grey zone whether it is eligible or not. The evaluation team would need to read a full project proposal in order to give a definite answer. Thus, you are welcomed to apply to the Challenge Fund, and take the risk of being disqualified.