Challenge Fund FAQs

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 https://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.

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

Questions and Answers week 1 (14-18 October)

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 https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/

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 https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/

Questions and Answers week 2 (21-25 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.

Questions and Answers week 3 (28 October – 01 November 2019)

Q.1 We are interested to apply to the 2nd call of the Challenge Fund with a project idea for a better quality of life of the persons with disabilities in the Mallakaster Municipality. We intend to apply as a physical person but we need your assistance because due to the time constrain, we could not attend the informing meetings. We need your opinion for our concept idea in order to apply to the Challenge Fund

A.1 You can apply to Window 1 of the Challenge Fund only if your business proposal is for a profitable business and commercially sustainable.

Q.2 During preparations to fill the application form I reached the section 5. about uploading documents. Q.2.1 Regarding Profit Loss Accounts (for the last 2 years); I have registered my business 10 months before and I have started activity in August 2019. For this short period 3 months, should I attach a document?

A.2.1 Profit and Loss account is part of the financial statements and it is an official document showing your activity’s revenues and expenses on yearly basis. Since your business is registered 10 months before and started the activity 3 months before you should not attach this document to your application for the 2nd call of the Challenge Fund.

Q.2.2 Regarding Balance Sheets (for the last 2 years). Should I upload balance sheet for 3 months? Or these two documents must be attached only by companies with more than two years? Are these documents plans for the future?

A.2.2 Balance Sheet is part of the financial statements and it is an official document that reports a company’s assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity on yearly basis. Since your business is registered 10 months before and started the activity 3 months before you should not attach this document to your application for the 2nd call of the Challenge Fund.

Q.3 Our activity is a touristic business in Shkoder -Ganjolle (Administrative Unit of Guri i Zi) and we are interested to apply to Challenge Fund for the 2nd call. Due to the fact that the tourism sector is seasonal we are considering to switch our activity to passive status at NCB for the winter season, therefore we are interested to know if this approach is acceptable by Challenge Fund

A.3 You can apply for Window 1 of the Challenge Fund only if you have an active status in NCB. If you plan to switch your activity from active to passive status during the winter season it will interfere with the implementation of the fund received in case you are a Challenge Fund finalist.

Q.4 We are preparing an application for the challenge Fund “Windows 2” - ‘Development of an Agri-Business Incubator' and would need your assistance to clarify the following: Q.4.1 We are a public university but also have an NGO managed by the university within the Faculty of Economics and Agri-Business. As you ask in your Application Instruction Template for a business entity our question is: Can we apply as public university or shall we rather apply with the NGO as a part of the university?

A.4.1 The entity that will implement the project should apply, which is a legal person in the form of NGO/Foundation (OJF/Fondacion) Physical person (Person Fizik) or Ltd (Shpk). The applicant applying under Window 2 is an Innovation Supporting Organization that aims to build, strengthen its contribution as an organization/institution towards supporting the start-up eco-system.

Q.4.2 Under section 2. Additional Data, you ask under point 4 for Financial Indicators, do we have to fill in the financial indicators of the university or the NGO or the financial indicators of our partner? Our partner is a German University

A.4.2 All the financial data Under Section 2 are related to the business entity of the applicant itself. For example: if you apply as a University then you should fill these parts of the financial indicators that relate to the University as an entity.

Q.5 Is the counting of the paragraphs written in the online application form counted by characters or by words?

A.5 In the online application from all fields are counted by characters. A character might be a letter, a space, a number or a symbol. The maximum number of characters allowed is stated in each field of the online application form.

Q.6 Our company was created in 2008, and two years ago in 2017 we stopped working and started a new business. Should I apply to EU for innovation challenge fund since we have 11 years on market of electric installations but just 2 years in photo voltaic-s. We would like to apply regarding our next project BIPV.

A.6 Yes, you can apply.

Questions and Answers week 4 (04 November-08 November 2019)

Q.1 We are two persons having a business idea and we are interested to apply to the Challenge fund 2nd call. As per the application form the applicant’s data are asked for only one person, how we can proceed in this case?

A.1 For idea stage applications even though the applicant is an individual applying to the Challenge fund the business idea and your project proposal for which you apply should include all your team members. Therefore, even though the application form is filled by only one person your team and the individual role and position of each member should be included in your project proposal.

Q.2 While completing the online application form we are asked to attach the registration act as well. As we are a new start up can you please advise if it is a requirement for us as well?

A.2 If you are Idea stage start-up you are a founder or a team in the early stages of implementing an innovative business idea, as you are not yet a registered entity you are not required to attach your registration act.

Q.3 Can you please clarify the requirement of: Not have performed registered activity for more than 36 months until the date of publication of the Call for Proposals

A.3 A start-up is defined as a newly emerged business venture within the first three years of operation from the official registration date of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals, including viable but non-registered business ideas from various sectors.  Therefore, you are eligible to apply within 36 months after the official registration date of your activity in the National Center of Business.

Q.4 I want to invest in my guesthouse, but I need a loan in the amount of 10,000 Euro for investing. Am I eligible for the Challenge fund?

A.4 Challenge Fund offers an opportunity for access to finance through an open, transparent and competitive application process. The funding instrument is not a loan but it is a grant given on a cost-share basis, the applicant is expected to co-share the costs min 50% of the total project budget. To be part of the Challenge Fund you should have an innovative business idea, for more information about the guideline of the applicants and criteria you may find by reading carefully the instructions on the following web https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/

Questions and Answers 3rd call

Q1. We are an ISO interested in applying to the Challenge Fund. As part of our planned activities, we will provide an incubation/acceleration program for start-ups, and we are also planning to offer small grants for them. Is sub-granting allowed within Challenge Fund Applicants?

A.1 The sub-granting is allowed only if this cost is 100% covered by the applicant, and is thus part of their cost-sharing percentage of the total project amount.

Q.1.1 We are applying through a social innovation center for the 3rd call of the innovation challenge fund. How many partners max can apply?

A.1.1 There is no limit as to how many partners can be involved in the project. However, if your application will be eligible for Challenge fund support before the grant contract signing the relationship between the applicant /the ISO and all the partners involved in the project will have to be regulated through an agreement specifying the roles and contributions of all.

Q.1.2 Where should the partners be from?

A.1.2 There are no restriction regarding the partners background. Nevertheless, the partners should somehow contribute to the project, and this should come out clear in the application, what their contribution entails.

Q.1.3 Does the budget includes cascade funding for the early stage start-ups to be eventually supported?

A.1.3 The sub-granting is allowed only if this cost is 100% covered by the applicant, and is thus part of their cost-sharing percentage of the total project amount.

Q2. We are two young mothers from Shkodra. Observing the educational needs of our children, especially for kindergarten and preschool age, we are interested in innovative methods of education such as MONTESSORI. We want to open a specialized children's play corner, as well as a multilingual library for this age group. We want to promote the culture of reading, knowledge of foreign languages, teaching games for practical life, as Maria Montessori herself taught us. We want to remove as many children as we can at this fragile age from any kind of screen (TV, hatch, tablet, etc.) and give them back the right to have a life in the real and everyday world and as far away from the world as possible. only virtual, which is destroying the worldview of the life of the rising generation. We are convinced that this innovative idea for the education of children is of primary importance and that it should be implemented everywhere, therefore we want to contribute by setting an example for young mothers like our work to learn and understand the importance it has. preliminary and constructive intervention in the healthy education of young children. Our question is whether such a project can be funded by the Challenge Fund.

A2. Yes, as long as the business will generate profit, you are eligible to apply for the idea stage of the Challenge Fund, where you can apply for up to 7,000 EUR.

Q.2 I am doing the business plan for challenge fund. I have some questions about budget section. I have my own land where I want to develop my business and a car that I will need, for transportation of tourists. Are these 2 eligible? Am I allowed to put these as "my investment"?

A.2 As per the Challenge Fund guidelines, you can include the following in your cost sharing part of the budget:

  • The depreciation value of the land that is going to be used for the project (during one year)
  • The depreciation value of the vehicle (for one year)

Q.3 I am considering applying to fund a Women Empowerment Campaign on my publishing media. It is true that it started many years ago but it was mainly a hobby for many years. I am registered as " Person Fizik" since 2015 because I have been declaring all my income generated from freelancing. The main funding purpose would be to be able to grow my team and invest in recording equpiment to produce content. Finally I would like to be able to create our own content related female empowerment. I believe my company would be a window of opportunity and employ many ambitious Albanian women in the next few years. The amount of funding I am looking for is around 15.000-20.000 EUR (camera and devices, salary for min 2 team member and some marketing budget) I have an office incl 2x computes, 2x laptops, different cameras and set ups but we need some support to be able to afford the equipment we need. Additionally, for this project I aim to offer over 30.000 EUR advertising space. My question is: Would I be eligible for the Challenge Fund considering I am registered as " Person Fizik" since 2015? I have always been the only employee.

A.3 As per the Guidelines of the Challenge Fund regarding start-ups, the applicants should not have performed registered activity for more than 36 months based on the date of their registration. Your business is therefore not eligible to apply to the Challenge Fund.

Q.3 Regarding the Challenge Fund, we have the following question that relates to which category we qualify:

Idea Stage; Early Stage Start Up or Scale Up Start Up. We have not registered the startup as a business but we are beyond the “idea” phase, we have done a market study, we are developing an application, etc.

Q.3.1 Should we be a registered business in order to apply for the second or third phase?

A.3.1. If your business is not registered yet, you are eligible to apply to the Idea phase category of finds.

Q.3.2. Will the trainings be held online or physically?

A.3.2. The trainings will most probably be online at least in the coming few weeks, this is depending on the national regulations that will be given onwards.

Q.4 In which language should the financial documentation required as supporting documents to be attached be in?

A.4 The financial supporting documents that are requested to be attached, could be send in Albanian.

Q.5.1 Since my business is registered in Mars 2017, (more than 3 years ago), am I eligible to apply to the Challenge Fund?

A.5.1 No, you are not eligible to apply to the Challenge Fund.

Q.5.2 If I have a secondary registration number (NIPT), could that be used as a basis to apply to the Challenge Fund?

A.5.2 As per the Guidelines of the Challenge Fund, only the primary registration number is a valid base to use for your application, which in your case stretches over 3 years and makes your application ineligible.

Q.6.1 Considering the need to be registered at least one year in order to apply to the Challenge Fund, we would like to participate as a Joint Venture of two companies, first company as a leading partner as LTD company registered in 2016 and second as joint partner with NGO status. Are Joint Ventures allowed to apply in the above-mentioned call for proposal? And if so, are we eligible?

A.6.1 As per the Guidelines of the Challenge Fund for Window 1, companies that apply to the Challenge Fund must be between 0-36 months old. In the case of the company you present in your email, its registration date makes it ineligible to apply to this Fund.

Q.6.2 This is also related to the ‘’Innovation challenge fund 3rd call’’ Window 2? I was asking specifically about Windows 2, can we apply as a Joint Venture in Window 2?

A.6.2 You are eligible to apply through Window 2, and there are no restrictions of 0-36 months in this case. Accept that the NGO that you are partnering with should have been registered no earlier than one year, referring to May 1st 2020, when the call was opened.

Questions and Answers 4th call

Q. Part of our project will include purchasing some assets (digital boards) that will be used as a didactic tool. Our question is related to whether also the cost of this assets may be included in our budget or just operational costs?

Yes, all purchases of equipment and assets should be included under the Implementation Costs section of the Budget Format that you will find in the application page https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/

Q. a) I run a company operating since 7 March 2016. I want to apply with a new idea, as a new field separated from other fields in the company, and which is never applied before. Am I eligible to apply?

A a) Your business should not have registered activity for more than 60 months until the launch of the call on February 15th 2021.

Q b) In the case I am not eligible, alternatively, can I register the business at the National Business Center after the application and the call results? I raise this question because the registration means the start of taxation meanwhile expecting the application results.

A b) When you apply to the Challenge Fund call, your company should already be registered before your application is submitted. Otherwise, if you are just in the idea phase, your application is not eligible for this call. If you decide to register, prior to submitting your application, it is a risk that you have to take if you will not be selected as one of the winners of this call.

Q. In Albania, each farmer has a number which is recognized as the farmer's number. In addition, for those farmers who produce and sell for the market, there is also a Tax Identification Number. In such a case, a registered business is defined as the business where the farmer is equipped with Tax Identification Number. Are we correct? Can you please clarify whether a farmer who has only a number does not represent a business while a farmer with a Tax Identification Number represents a business? Please correct us if we are wrong.

The farmer needs to be registered and have a tax identification number in order to apply to the Challenge Fund.

Q. Does beekeeping fall under agriculture/food processing eligibility sector? Can you please clarify?

Yes

Q. Do you support construction of fruits/vegetables storehouses? Can you please clarify?

Yes, if it serves an innovative purpose (product or service or process)

Q. Can you please clarify what you support under "Agriculture/food processing" sector/rubric of the application?

Kindly read the Guideline Document under Window 1 in the following link https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/

Q. I have predicted to spend more while spending less, what happens to the difference that is not spent by me?

The maximum co-financing percentage share of an applicant’s own contribution is not limited meantime at the end of the contracted project; minimum co-financing share of own contribution must not be below 50% of the overall costs of the project implementation. The progress of the contracted project and the related expenses are monitored continuously and each disbursement is approved based on the approved narrative and financial reports, making sure that the min. limit of cost share (for own contribution as well) is met throughout the project implementation

Q. What exchange rate will be used during project implementation, for me to make the approximate forecast from lek to euro?

As per the Application Instructions; the financial data is presented in EUR. Please indicate the Exchange rate applied for All to Euro currency. Therefore, the applicant should present the financial figures according to the official exchange rate of All to Euro taken from the Bank of Albania (or any other official bank) of the month that the application is submitted. The exchange rate applied should be presented in the application form.

Q. Two entities with the same owner, one company will apply as ISO, the other as startup. Capacities and implementation teams are different. Is there a problem that the owner is the same? (in principle we do not see a conflict of interest but we wanted to confirm if this is the first time this case has hit us)

There is no impediment if two entities with the same partner apply to the Challenge Fund. In the event that both entities qualify to the Bootcamp stage, it will be assessed whether the partner’s capacity and commitment are sufficient to proceed to the next stages.

Q. If a business has a passive status and becomes active before the end of the call is it eligible? (Passive status is an issue that we encountered several times during the sessions also due to the difficult year from the pandemic, legally during the period of inactivity the company does not perform activity but the question in this case is if activated now is it eligible to apply?)

The suspension of the activity of startups that have applied so far, has been evaluated case by case. Prior to the spread of the pandemic, we legitimately justified the suspension of activity for up to 6 months due to seasonality. Taking into account the changed circumstances due to the pandemic, the applicant must clearly argue in his application the reasons for the suspension. The jury’s analysis will be based on these arguments to call the suspension legitimate or not.

Q. After we read carefully all the necessary topics you listed, and the rules for funding, we have a question. One of the rules is “must provide minimum 50% of cost share (of the total value of the project). Our question is about this value, this must be our organization’s contribution only, or it can also be secured from the municipality, our other partners, other donators or collaborators?

The min.50% cost share (of the total value of the project) is the applicant (and after the grant award) it will be the grant beneficiary contribution and it can be secured through their own funds in cash or in- kind contribution including partnerships with other institutions like the municipality, other partners, collaborators. The roles, the responsibilities and the respective contributions (either in cash or in kind) must be clearly identified and agreed into a mutual agreement between all the contributing partners prior to the grant agreement signing.

Q a) Regarding the challenge fund 4th call (startups), I want to ask you, In the first section what does ID mean, should we put founders ID there?

A a) Yes indeed, kindly put the ID number of the founder under this section.

Q b) If there is more than one founder shall we put all founders ID?

A b) The ID number of one owner is sufficient.

Q. Please kindly can you specify which CV format should we upload for our team?

The choice of CV format is left open.

Q. We saw the 4th call launched for the Challenge Fund, but we could not find the application form online. We would like to apply and bring our start up at a new level, hopefully! Could I please have more information on the application procedures?

  1. Kindly follow the link https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/ and select the Apply button in order to apply to the Challenge Fund as a startup under Window 1.

To learn more about the rules and regulations, please select the Guideline Document under Window 1.

To learn more about the application, please select the Application Instructions under Window 1.

If you want to receive more support on how to apply to the Challenge Fund, kindly book a one-to-one consultation meeting with our experts on the following link https://euforinnovation.al/one-to-one-consultations-for-challenge-fund-application/

Q. I have information about the initiative of your program and we are interested in this project about Green Energy. First of all, I need the conditions and how to participate in this project.

Kindly read the Guideline Document for Window 1 if you are applying as a startup in the following link: https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/

Q a) Do you have the same application procedure with 3 previous calls, which mean, the same project proposal format?

A a) The 4th call for applications is open until March 15th. You can apply in the following link https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/ as the previous calls

Q b) Do you have priorities related to the project idea? Are tourism and touristic services eligible for this call?

A b) All sectors are welcomed to apply, but the following areas will be given priority in the evaluation process: agriculture; digital solutions; solution that tackle challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Q. Recently I am in the phase of opening an NGO in Tirana, in Albania. The NGO is still in the registration process, and it will take two months to be fully operative. The papers are in the courtroom ready, waiting to be signed. As my NGO's idea is in Innovation, I would like to ask you if I can apply as a start-up call or partner with another NGO, considering that my NGO is not operative yet. I doubt if the partnership can be possible, as my NGO does not have a NUIS number. Please let me know how I can proceed with the application and the best way for me to apply.

Applicants with no NUIS number cannot apply under Window 1 (startups). For more information regarding the eligibility criteria, kindly refer to the Guideline Document for Window 1 in the following link https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/

Q. I have in my administration a new company that take care for Indoor Air and Surface Disinfection, only with Ultraviolet devices. I am interested to apply on Startups Challenge fund but I have a question about 1 point where you mentioned: **'Must provide minimum 50% of cost share (of the total value of the project)'** Can you please explain more about this point? I mean...if I will apply for a project that will have impact on society (strong impact against Covid-19), do you cover all the costs? Why is needed 50% to be covered from the business?

An important element in any challenge fund instrument is the cost-sharing aspect. The ‘’Innovation Challenge fund 4th call’’ grant is also given on a cost-share basis, i.e. the applicant is expected to co-share the costs. For any start-up funds are scarce and that is why the co-shared amount may also include in-kind contributions (such as time), salaries, reinvested profits and other investments. The total grant amount may not exceed 50% of the total value of the project for which the grant is awarded. This ensures sustainability and avoids grant hoping phenomena among startups.

For more information regarding the criteria of the Challenge Fund, please read the Guideline Document on the following link https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/

Q. We wish hope this email finds you safe and healthy. On behalf of Almotech, a digital solution provider company, we are considering applying on Window 1 under the scale up category. Our business was registered on early March 2016. According to the criteria you have stated on the guidelines document (For scale-ups up to 30, 000 EUR (a registered business entity between 1-5 years of operation (from the official registration of the business entity to the date of publishing the Call for Proposals) we wanted to get your confirmation that we are eligible to apply as the date of publishing of the call was February meanwhile on early March, we end the 5th year of existence of our company. In order for us to continue the normal process of compiling the application, we would appreciate your confirmation that we are eligible by the years criteria of Almotech.

Your business should not have registered activity for more than 60 months until the launch of the call on February 15th 2021, thus you are eligible to apply to the Challenge Fund.

Q. We are more than one founding partners in our startup. I put the data of one founder under the following sections: Founder Name, Surname, Gender, and Birth of year? Is that correct?

In the above-mentioned sections, you can proceed with data for one of the owners, but under the ‘present your team’ section you need to describe the composition of your team and each and everyone’s roles and responsibility.

Q. We wanted to ask you how can we be classified as an ISO. Our company Angel1 (registered as an IT company in 11/01/2018), https://angel1.tech/ in collaboration with another partner is interested to apply to the fund. Angel1 is a company specialized in software development, e-commerce, CRM and ERP, video on-demand, app, etc. However, before preparing the project, I was interested to know, if you can help me, in which category this company classifies. As from what i have understand, will depend also the granted amount. As for the Window, I believe we should apply in Window2, please confirm me also this.

If you are a registered business you can apply in both categories. Depending on your scope of proposal and objective on which you request funding, you will be selecting the category. Based on the information below, we believe that you are interested in applying under Window 1 category for startups.

Nevertheless, kindly read the Guidelines Document for both Window 1 and Window 2 in the following link https://challengefund.euforinnovation.al/apply/.

Q. Regarding Innovation Challenge fund 4th Call, Window 2, we are applying with two partners, our question is about the relevant documents that the organizations need to upload during the application process. Those documents need to be submitted only by the lead applicant or by all partners?

Kindly upload the following document for the leading partner:

–              business registration document

–              NUIS identification number issued by tax administration

–              profit loss accounts, balance sheets

 

Kindly upload the following documents for both partners:

–              CV of key team members

Marubi Museum, which will be also our partner. We intend to create a Web site to present the photographic collections in the form of a Virtual Museum, and also an App for IoS and android. Our company, Angel1, a Limited Liability company, is a company currently working on IT and programming science. Our main projects are focused on software development for multiple companies in the Italian and Albanian market. We are currently working with cutting edge technology on a wide range of software applications. Starting from CRM & ERP management software to Internet of Things telemetry and Virtual Reality software. I have read the guidelines of both windows, and i still can't figure it out, because it remains open to interpretation. But I don't want to be this an obstacle for accessing the grant, because if we are not eligible for Window 2, we can think at least to prepare the website and, in the future, we can continue with the apps.

Given the background of your company and the objective of proposal you present below, we believe you should apply under Window 1.

I order to apply under Window 2, you need to fulfill the following eligibility criteria as stated in the Guideline Document for Window 2:

“Window 2 of the ‘’Innovation challenge fund 4th 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, 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”

More specifically, the development of a website and / or applications does not comply with the scope of Window 2.

Q. I was reading the instruction for applying in 4th call of Challenge Fund. In section 3.2 Disqualifying criteria is mention in point j) if they are currently implementing a grant from IDEA programme by GIZ. At this point I am currently implementing a grant from IDEA scheme by the Ministry of Finance and this process will be close at maximum 27 April (according to the contract). Do I have any possibility that my start-up business BrickPlast - ALB focus on waste recycling according to the circular economy principles, created on 28.10.2020, can be eligible for this call based that in April I finish the grant implementation process with the IDEA scheme? Is only 1 month and 10 days between that stop me to make the application according to your disqualifying criteria.

At the time of qualification as the winner of the Challenge Fund (successful passing of 5 levels of assessment) the contract with the IDEA project must have been concluded and of course the Challenge fund project must not overlap with the IDEA funded project. The finalization of the evaluation process is envisaged to take place by the end of May 2021, and in this context, you are eligible to apply to the Challenge Fund.

Q. Could you please inform me about the methodology of co-financing and documents that are required to prove in the case of an (a)purchase or service (b) delivery.

The applicant is expected to cover min. 50% of the total costs of a project. If a project will be eligible for signing a Grant Agreement the co-financing procedure is proceeded based on installments according to a disbursement schedule agreed between the Contracting Authority (SIDA) and the grant beneficiary. The procurement of the services and goods are performed according to the provisions stated in the grant agreement and are documented with the respective contracts & invoices.

Q. I would like to apply for the 4th Challenge Innovation. However, I have a question on the partnership, I want to collaborate with Metropolitan University, which was the winner of the 3rd Challenge of the EU for innovation. Can I partner with them? Will this influence my application?

Yes, you can partner with previous Challenge Fund winners as long as you remain the main implementing entity which is responsible for the implementation of the Grant Agreement with the Challenge Fund.

Q. Please help us clarify the following questions regarding the online application: Q a) on details on business identity: At point 2 of completing the basic information - ID, in our case we are a company with what data must be completed?

A a) Please fill in the ID number of the business founder

Q b) part 5 of the application- attach documents - Max number of files is 5, therefore if you have multiple CVs or Profit Loss accounts, you should make sure they are a single file! - but the points listed on this section are 6?

A b) As specified in the Guideline Document, the documents in pdf to be uploaded are:

  1. The registration acts from the NRC
  2. Identification number (NUIS) issued by tax administration
  3. Profit Loss Accounts for the last 2 years (if applicable)
  4. Balance Sheets for the last 2 years (if applicable)
  5. CV of relevant team members

The last item added is the item (f.Budget) in excel form (You MUST use this Budget Format EU for Innovation excel document!) Which must be uploaded as an excel file. So, the user is given the opportunity to upload up to 5 pdf files + 1 excel file. For this the system offers 6 inputs.

Q c) for the following list please tell us if we have prepared the right documents 1- The registration acts in accordance with relevant national law - which document/s? extracts from QKB?

A c) 1 Kindly attach the registration act from the National Registering Center

2- Identification number issued by tax administration – nipt certificate?

A c) 2 Kindly attach your NUIS certificate

3- Profit Loss Accounts for the last 2 years (if applicable) – only part of the balance sheets because the balance sheets are requested on the next part of the listed documents? the PLA (PASh)?

A c) 3 In the attached documentation, you should include the balance sheets from the last 2 years (if your business has been registered throughout the last 2 years).