Frequently Asked Questions
Here is an actively updated list of frequently asked questions and their answers concerning experimental projects.
Who can apply for aid?
State aid can be granted to companies, associations, municipalities and other legal entities which have a business ID, which have paid their taxes and other necessary contributions, and which implement a project that meets the criteria of the KIRA-digi aid scheme. The operator can be either Finnish or of international origin.
What is considered economic activity?
Economic activity comprises all production, delivery and sales of products and services. In the EU context, ‘undertaking’ refers to any entity engaged in economic activity, irrespective of its legal form. Within this definition, associations or individual persons can also be undertakings.
What is considered non-economic activity?
In the EU, certain activities in the culture and cultural heritage sectors are considered to not affect the market or trading between Member States, and such activities are regarded as non-economic. The culture sector also includes many commercial activities. Various research infrastructures can also practice both economic and non-economic activities.
Must there be a representative of the public sector in the project?
No, this is not required, but it is allowed.
Can a university receive aid for an experimental project?
Yes. The EU Block Exemption Regulation refers to research and knowledge-dissemination organisations in a broader sense.
What is the scope and extent of projects eligible for aid?
The annual aid sum distributed within the KIRA-digi aid scheme is approximately EUR 2 million, and there are no limits on the minimum or maximum aid awarded to individual projects. In order to meet the objectives of the experimental projects and be able to test different perspectives, the sum is divided between several projects every year. There is also a special form of aid available for small-scale experimental projects starting from 2017, the one-off experimental grant (EUR 1,500 per project).
Can in-house work be covered by the project’s own funding?
Are VAT expenses considered eligible?
Value-added tax can be included in the costs paid with KIRA-digi aid scheme funding only if it remains as a final cost for the recipient of the funding and as long as the recipient of the funding does not have the right to record the value added tax under the state's separate value-added tax subsection and the value-added tax is not compensated to the recipient in some other way.
Can the percentage of aid be less than 40%?
If the experimental project involves product development or experimentation that aims to develop a commercial application, and the results cannot be published for this reason, the aid can cover up to 25% of the costs. However, the enterprise can be granted more aid depending on its size (medium-sized enterprises up to 35% and small enterprises up to 40%).
How is the amount of aid determined if the applicant is a consortium with both large-scale enterprises and SMEs?
If the project involves effective cooperation and if at least one of the enterprises is an SME, and if no individual company bears more than 70% of the eligible costs, the aid scheme can cover 40% of the costs for experimental development.
How is the amount of aid determined if the applicant is a consortium with international operators?
The nationality or place of office of the applicants does not affect the aid amount.
What is the maximum level of eligible overheads?
There is no maximum level for overheads, but applicants should bear in mind that the award criteria include the feasibility of the project (e.g. its feasibility with the available resources) and its impact (e.g. which results it would lead to).
Are there any special terms and conditions for collaborative consortia?
If the project has several parties, one of these must be the primary applicant. All the parties involved in the project must meet the award criteria specified in the Block Exemption Regulation. For more information, see section 11 of the aid scheme.
Are the experimental projects covered by the Act on Public Contracts?
The Act on Public Contracts (1397/2016) must be followed in the procurements related to the project, when the beneficiary is a public procurement unit, or if at least 50% of the procurement costs are covered with this aid granted by the Ministry of the Environment and/or other types of public funding. If a public procurement has been made against the regulations on procurement, the price of the procurement is not an acceptable cost for the project.
How are applications processed?
The ministry will first verify that the applicant meets the requirements set for beneficiaries (such as registration and the payment of taxes and fees) and that the project complies with the aid scheme. Applications that are found to meet the requirements of the aid scheme are submitted to the assessment team for assessment. Based on the assessments conducted by the assessment team, the KIRA-digi steering group then submits a proposal to the ministry concerning projects that are to be granted aid. The actual aid decisions are prepared by the Ministry of the Environment.
Who takes part in the assessment of the applications?
Applications are assessed by a dedicated assessment pool comprising industry experts, which can be further expanded during the operation of the aid scheme. The pool is appointed by the aid scheme's strategic management group. The assessment pool includes representatives from ministries, universities, research institutions, companies, the municipal sector, associations and non-profit organisations, among others. The applications of each application round can only be assessed by members of the assessment pool who are unaffiliated with the organisations participating in the application round in question. Assessment pool can be found here.
How are the assessors' confidentiality and questions of incompetence due to the likelihood of bias taken into account?
All members of the assessment pool have signed a written confidentiality agreement and independence declaration, in which they agree to conduct their assessment confidentially and not to hand over applications, work plans or any information contained therein to third parties. Once the assessment is completed, the project applications and any material created as part of their assessment are handed over to the Ministry of the Environment.
The members of the assessment pool have also stated their affiliations with different organisations in their confidentiality agreements and independence declarations. In addition to this, affiliations are also reviewed before each application assessment round. If an assessor is affiliated with one of the applicants participating in an application round (a primary applicant or some other party related to an application), the assessor in question is disqualified from assessing any of the applications in that particular application round.
Who has access to the information contained in applications?
Access to applications is given only to the assessors of the specific application round. The Chief Digital Officer and Administrative Project Manager also have access to the materials for the purpose of managing the assessment process and answering questions related to the assessment, but they do not participate in scoring the applications.
Even if the experiment aims to promote the creation of new products and services, the key content of the experiment itself may not be concerned with the sale of the product or service. This is due to the EU rules concerning State aid. In this case the financial aid for the experimentation projects must be targeted to research, development and innovation activities.
- The project has met with challenges that have caused unexpected delays which could not have been foreseen. Examples of such causes include the unexpected withdrawal of piloting sites or objects already agreed on and the consequent need for additional inputs in the search for new piloting sites or objects, or unforeseeable delays relating to the competitive tendering process for purchased services that are not attributable to the project implementers.
- If the project was started later than planned because of the timing of the decision on the aid. In this case the duration of the project may be extended by the difference between the planned and actual time of starting the project.
General questions about the KIRA-digi project and the pilot projects:
Teemu Lehtinen, CDO, tel. +358 40 456 6108 Email. teemu.lehtinen(at)kiradigi.fi
Questions related to the project funding, the aid scheme and reporting of the experiments:
Minna Perähuhta, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 29 525 0223 Email. minna.perahuhta(at)ym.fi