Challenge Fund FAQs – 1st call

All questions regarding the 2nd call should be sent no later than 15 days prior to the call’s closing date (November 10th).

Q.1 I have a question related to the explanation of ISO concept I want to know more what do you intend by this concept and what document do you need to support ISO.

A.1 Window 2 is open for organizations engaged in services to innovative start-ups, i.e. innovation service providers to upgrade their capacity further and/or develop new services to the innovation and start-up community in Albania. These actors are hereon after referred to as Innovation Support Organizations (ISOs) and could be such as Universities, Incubators, Accelerators, NGOs, private and public entities.

Q.2 Can spending of the last 12 months (made by the applicant for the proposed project) be put as co-finance in the project proposal?

A.2 Any previous and actual investment cost made by the applicant that affects and is necessary for the implementation of the project, is considered co-financing. The costs relevant to the project will be calculated in proportion to the depreciation of the asset within the project implementation period.A.2 Any previous and actual investment cost made by the applicant that affects and is necessary for the implementation of the project, is considered co-financing. The costs relevant to the project will be calculated in proportion to the depreciation of the asset within the project implementation period. This does not include salary costs of the last 12 months. They will not be considered eligible expenditures.

Q.3 We are a specialized media provider focusing on health. We have been active for six years, and have a portal www.shendeti.com.al as well as the newspaper Shëndet Plus. Since 2011, with the support of the World Health Organisation we have establshied the newspaper Shëndet Plus. This newspaper is distributed all over the country and it’s the first health newspaper focusing on raising awareness among citizens on health education. In social media we have 110.000 followers. Given the education aspect, provided information and investigative profile, the newspaper has received continous support from donors such as UNFPA, USAID, WHO, UNDP, REC etc. Our media is registered and has a NUIS. We have the following question: Can we apply in the challenge fund, as our media offers an innovative service?

A.3 The Challenge Fund targeting Innovation Support Organizations, will support only those entities whose project proposal contributes to the innovation and entrepreneurship eco-system. Even though your newspaper offers an innovative service compared to others, it does not support innovation in the context of start-ups.

Q4. We will have prior consultation meetings before submitting the online application?

A4. Prior consultation meetings before submitting the online application will not take place during the application process to the Challenge Fund. Any questions should be sent in writing via e-mail to challengefund@euforinnovation.al no later than 15 days before the application submission deadline.

Q5. In case of an approved project, are the funds of the grant disbursed prior to project implementation, or upon finalization?

A5. The funds of the grant will be disbursed based on the project implementation needs on a case to case basis. They can be disbursed prior, by installments or upon finalization of the project expenses, and according to the agreement between the Contracting Authority and the Grant Beneficiary.

Q6. Can an applicant apply for more than one project, considering that projects are independent and not related to each other?

A6.  Applicants are eligible to one grant from the Innovation Challenge fund.

Q7. As I am the the winner of the IDEA programme by GIZ Idea Challenge, and my contract is still under implementation, does that mean that I am automatically disqualified to apply to the Challenge Fund?

A7. Potential applicants are not eligible to a grant from the Innovation Challenge fund if they are currently implementing a grant from IDEA programme by GIZ.

Q8. Me and my business partner were among the 5 finalists of IDEA challenge programme from GIZ, which we are currently implementing. Since we have a new, innovative idea which would be a great support to the current business and to the place where we live, we wanted to ask if we are allowed to be part of this competition to improve, develop and finance our idea through the Innovation Challenge Fund?

A8. If your new innovative idea falls outside the current business project that you are implementing with IDEA programme from GIZ, you could apply for the Innovation Challenge Fund. Otherwise, potential applicants are not eligible to a grant from the Innovation Challenge fund if they are currently implementing a grant from IDEA programme by GIZ.

Q9. Related to the Innovation Challenge fund 1st Call, could you please provide an example of eligible activities for start-ups as to the below.

A.9 The proposal of eligible activities should come from the applicant based on the product or service that they are developing.

Q.10 I am a young entrepreneur from Kosovo and we have developed the first anti-plagiarism system in the region. We are kindly asking whether we would be eligible for the Innovation Challenge Fund as a Scale-up or at least as an Early-Stage startup?

A.10 You could apply to the Innovation Challenge Fund if you are a start-up between 0-3 years old. If you are not registered yet, and this is a prototype, you could also apply for the fund. Please see the criteria below:

  • idea stage start-ups, i.e. a founder or a team in the early stages of implementing an innovative business idea (no registered entity needed)
  • early stage start-ups, i.e. 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)
  • scale-ups, a registered business entity within the first 13-36 month of operation (from the official registration of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals)A.10 You could apply to the Innovation Challenge Fund if you are a start-up between 0-3 years old. If you are not registered yet, and this is a prototype, you could also apply for the fund under the idea stage start-up. Please see the criteria below:
    • idea stage start-ups, i.e. a founder or a team in the early stages of implementing an innovative business idea (no registered entity needed)
    • early stage start-ups, i.e. 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)
    • scale-ups, a registered business entity within the first 13-36 month of operation (from the official registration of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals)

In order for you to apply for early-idea stage you have to be registered as a business in Albania and be operational here as well.

Q.11 a) What is the definition of a legal person? Is this valid for the idea start-ups too?

A11.a)

  1. b) Will there be an information day in Korçë or any other city in south Albania? When? I can’t see this on your website.

A.b) There will be no info sessions in Korca.

  1. c) Is there any age limit for the applicants?

A.11 c) No. Unless you are under 18 years old, which means that you cannot register a business.

  1. d) It is stated that there is a need to prove that 50% of the costs are shared or secured. How can this be documented? What is an eligible proof? Loan statement? Support letter from local government? Any other suggestion?

A.11 d) Regarding in kind contributions the answer depends on the type of expense that you intend to cover:

  • Supporting with use of equipment – the amount equal depreciation of the asset for the period of use. The cost of assets must be supported by an invoice or payment of the supply
  • Supporting with services received from third parties as part of a contract – invoice received from third parties or contract (such as rent contract, maintenance
  • Supporting with their own work – copy of the latest working contract / consultancy service contract is appropriate on the case
  • In addition to secure the funds you may use the following supporting documents
  • Bank statement confirming that you have enough resources available
  • Loan statement confirming that you have agreed with the bank to obtain the loan once you gain the project

Q.12 We made a mistake in submitting the application. We carefully read the guideline but since it was 'send' instead of 'submit' we thought we were only saving it. The application is almost empty as we only wanted to see what was the content of the next sections. Can you advice on how to proceed?

A.12 The application form should be filled completely only once. Thereby the application cannot be saved and visited a second time for further processing. This is the reason why the system does not allow to proceed if every step has not been fully completed. After all the fields have been completed and the applicant reaches to the end the applicant may return to the beginning of the application and revise/change any field but without clicking SEND button. When SEND button is clicked the application is considered final.

For this case the existing application may be deleted by us and a new application have to be created by the applicant itself.

Q.13 a) What are the dates for the second and/or maybe the third call? b) Secondly, we wanted to know if we could participate under Window 2 of the ‘’Innovation challenge fund 1st call"? We have an Accounting Office situated in Durres, for more than 36 months.

A.13 a) The second and third call of the Innovation Challenge Fund are envisaged to open in September, 2019 and February 2020, respectively.

A13 b) To be eligible for the  Window 2 referred to Innovation Support Organizations (ISOs) your activity should be engaged in services to innovative start-ups, i.e. innovation service providers to upgrade their capacity further and/or develop new services to the innovation and start-up community in Albania such as Albanian incubators, accelerators, science parks, innovation hubs, co-working facilities, technology transfer offices, innovation clubs, specialized 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).

Q.14 Our University is currently working on the application form for the EU Challenge fund, and we are facing a difficulty with the budget document. We couldn't' access it in the guidelines and we are not filling the online application by now. Could you please maybe provide us with a copy, so we can work on it? Or please guide us on how to access it!

A.14 A) We have checked that all documents are accessible up to date. Nevertheless, all users should use web browsers such as: Chrome (version 70.0 or newer) or Firefox (version 60.0 or newer).

Q.15 We are about to submit a project under (Windows 2), and we are not seeing an option to choose as NGO?

A.15 The NGO option has now been added in the application form of ISO -Window 2.

Q.16 Should the start-up be registered prior to the application? I have an unregistered start-up and I want to apply for 15,000 EUR. Am I eligible, or should I register my business prior to applying?

A.15 A start-up is defined as a newly emerged business venture within the first three years of operation, including viable but non-registered business ideas from various sectors. If you want to register your start-up in order to be eligible for a 15,000 EUR, you could certainly do so. Otherwise there is the idea stage with a maximum funding of 7,000 EUR.

Q.16 I have a question regarding your 1-st Call for start-ups under Challenge Fund. A subject registered today, can be considered as an early stage start up and apply for the amount up to 15 000 Euro?

A.16 Yes

Q.17 May I please ask for a link to find more information about the application process?

A.17 Please read carefully the instructions on the following web http://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/index.php/apply/

Q.18 I am the administrator of a company which has been registered since 20/05/2016. Is the company still eligible to apply for the fund? In addition, the company is a spin-off from another company. Does it make it still eligible to apply? If yes, in the application form should I fill the field for the founders of the company with the names of the founders of the other company or I can fill the form with my name and information as the administrator of the company?

A.18 Since your company has been registered on 20/05/2016 the activity it is within the first three years of operation therefore it is eligible for the Window 1.

Q.19 I`m contacting you on behalf of Incubator. We are preparing our application to the relevant call, but we would kindly ask you about some points at the draft application: "Registration type" - we are an NGO. What line should be selected at this section in accordance with our legal type?

A.19 a) The NGO option was added in the application form of ISO -Window 2

Q.20 a) Our incubator has not its own separate legal existence (is not a separate legal entity). Is it possible to participate through the Foundation, owner of the University?

A20 a) Yes

Q.20 b) Which registration type option is the correct one for our situation (incubator as a project of a University without separate legal entity)?

A20 b) The entity that will implement the project we will finance, in your case is the University. Depending on the registration status of your University you could choose the following options OJF/Foundation or SHPK (depending on how it is registered) where you should submit the Court Registration extract.

Q.20 d) In case of participating now in June and being admitted, is it possible to participate also in September with another project or an upgrade/expansion of the previous one?

A20 d) No

Q20 e) In case of being rejected in the first call, is it possible to apply again in the second one in September?

A20 e) Yes

Q20 h) Regarding the supporting documents, is it sufficient to upload Profit Loss Accounts and Balance Sheets referred to the last two years?

A20 f) Yes

Q20 f) If the requiring grant is € 100.000, ISO should guarantee additional € 100.000 (also in-kind contributions), does it?

A20 f) Yes

Q.21 Is it possible to apply in more separate steps (saving the information filled in every time) and submit everything in the end or must be done in only one session?

A.21 The application should be filled completely only once. Thereby the application cannot be saved and visited a second time for further processing. This is the reason why the system does not allow to proceed further if every step has not been fully completed. After all the fields have been completed and the applicant reaches to the end the applicant may return to the beginning of the application and revise/change any field but without clicking SEND button. When SEND button is clicked the application is considered final. For this case the existing application may be deleted by us and a new application have to be created by the applicant itself.

Q.22 a) Will accepted projects/startups receive services only by ISO that applied and are admitted? b) How does it work when an accepted startup is incubated in an ISO that didn’t apply or haven’t been admitted? c) Is it possible to participate with 2 different projects or being part of 2 different teams presenting different projects? e) Cost for human resources (i.e. salaries or consultancy) can be eligible? For example, can the grant be used to hire and pay a developer? d) What does exactly ‘co-financing rate as stipulated in the Contract, is applied to each eligible cost under all expenditure categories’ mean? Does each cost related to an activity need to be co-shared? Or the total amount?

A.22 a) No, selected start-ups will get support from other sources than the applying ISOs.

A.22 b) There is not a problem. Start-ups will get tailor made technical, financial and legal assistance throughout the implementation of the project.

A.22 c) As an entity, or team leader you could only apply for one project. As part of a team, you could participate in the application for two projects.

A.22 e) Salaries /consultancy costs are acceptable in the context of the project proposal.

A.22 d) Co financing of expanses could be done for each expanse/cost as a share percentage or for separate expenses as a share percentage of the total amount.

Q.23 a) As I have recently switched from a passive/suspended business status to normal business activity, does that make me eligible? b) The grand will be utilized within the project period, but how it is disbursed to the business? Which are the elements that determine if it will be disbursed in full or several tranches?

A.23 a) Yes, if your last activation date is within 3 years from the date of application.

A.23 b) The funds of the grant will be disbursed based on the project implementation needs on a case to case basis. They can be disbursed prior, by installments or upon finalization of the project expenses, and according to the agreement between the Contracting Authority and the Grant Beneficiary.

Q.24 We are an NGO applying under Window 2, of the Challenge Fund and EU for Innovation Project. We have prepared our project proposal, but we are facing a problem during the compilation of the online application. When we have to declare the status of our registration there is not any option for NGO-s. How we can fulfill this part? Can we continue our application without this part?

A.24 When you will pursue your application online under Window 2, you will find the option of NGO under the Registration Type section. Unfortunately, in the offline version of the application form, this is missing.

Q.25 a) Under the Financial Data section, should we calculate our yearly forecast based on our own income, or should we calculate it as if we were granted the money from your Fund?

A.25 a) Under the Financial Data section, when you calculate your company’s forecast, it should be inclusive of the requested funds.

Q. 25 b) Under Your Budget section, should we calculate the forecast for the upcoming 12 months, the total cost as well as our contribution in co-financing?

A.25 b) Yes, as indicated in the application form, under this section you should calculate the total project budget forecast for the upcoming 12 months, inclusive of your contribution as co-financer.