Предизивик за воспоставување на лабаратории за производство FAB LABS „Младите Создаваат“

In a world facing an increasing flow of information, where advances in science and technology are accelerating and having an increasing impact on people’s daily lives, the educational process must adapt to the need to meet the challenges of the future. Hence, it becomes more and more important for students not only to acquire certain knowledge but also to acquire skills to be able to apply the same craft in a creative and analytical way to find new solutions to existing and upcoming problems.

The challenge of establishing fabrication laboratories aims to provide young people with the spatial, material, and technical conditions for developing innovative products, services, processes, activities, or methodologies that offer practical and socially useful solutions to certain issues or problems in priority areas of science and technology. At the same time, these laboratories will be a place for cooperation between the private sector, higher education and scientific institutions, enterprises, and civil society organizations.

The fabrication laboratories that will be established through this challenge will be located within higher education and scientific research institutions will meet certain spatial and technical conditions and will be a place for play, creation, and discovery. These laboratories will provide young people with access to advanced technologies through which they can materialize what they have imagined, a place where young people can learn and create by encouraging their innovativeness.

The results of the projects funded under this challenge will be used as a case study to introduce a systemic approach towards establishing, functioning, and sustaining fabrication laboratories.

Contestants should offer a project proposal for establishing a fabrication laboratory “FAB LAB” in the premises located within the higher education or scientific research institutions, where young people aged 15 to 29 years will receive free access, mentoring, spatial and technical conditions to construct a prototype or small-scale production of an innovative solution that can be tested in a laboratory, industrial environment and/or market. 

Apart from the youth program supported under the project, the production laboratory can also be used for commercial purposes.

The duration of the project should be up to 12 (twelve) months.

The Fund, based on justified circumstances, may approve the extension of the project implementation for up to 6 (six) months.

In case of extension of the duration of the project implementation, the amount of the awarded grant cannot be increased.

For financing of projects under this call, a total amount of 9,000,000 (nine million) denars is provided.

Through this call, the Fund provides financing up to 90% (ninety percent) of the total project budget, to a maximum amount of 4,500,000.00 (four million and five hundred thousand) denars.

The remaining 10% (ten percent) of the total project budget should be provided by the applicant (resources received from the Fund on any other basis or any other state aid will not be considered eligible for co-financing by the bidder).

The co-financing provided can also be in the form of in-kind participation. Preference will be given to those project proposals that will provide cash flow financing from own funds and/or cash flow financing from third parties (companies, donors, business associations, etc.).

The Fund reserves the right not to award a prize if there are not enough quality project proposals or the conditions for awarding the prize under these Rules and the conditions stated in the Public Call are not met.

The project proposal can be submitted either by an individual Contestant, by an individual contestant in partnership with other legal entities, or by a consortium led by a leading contestant.

These are the conditions that each contestant must meet:

  • The contestant should be a legal entity registered in the Central Register of the Republic of North Macedonia, as follows:

(a) public universities in their science-oriented units (scientific institutes) and in science-oriented education units (faculties);

(b) independent public higher education institutions;

(c) private-public non-profit higher education institutions;

(d) public scientific institutions and mixed scientific institutions established under the Law on Higher Education or the Law on Scientific Research;

(e) companies that are predominantly owned by public higher education institutions (50.1% of more);

(f) legal entities registered under the Law on Associations and Foundations Active in the Fields of Youth, Education, Science, Technology, and/or Innovation.

  • The contestant should not have accumulated more than 200,000 (two hundred thousand) euros of minor assistance for three fiscal years, including the amount requested from the Fund in accordance with the Law on State Aid Control and the Regulation on the conditions and procedure for granting minor assistance (de minimis).

The premises of the fabrication laboratories should be owned by:

(a) public universities in their science-oriented units (scientific institutes) and in science-oriented education units (faculties);

(b) independent public higher education institutions;

(c) private-public non-profit higher education institutions;

(d) public scientific institutions and mixed scientific institutions established in accordance with the Law on Higher Education or the Law on Scientific Research;

(e) companies that are predominantly owned by public higher education institutions (50.1% of more);

Legal entities registered in the country and/or registered outside the Republic of North Macedonia can appear as a partner or members of the consortium.

In case the project proposal is submitted by a contestant who does not own the premises of the fabrication laboratory, the contestant should have concluded an agreement or provided a letter of interest for using the premises of the fabrication laboratory for the purposes of the awarded project for a minimum duration of 18 (eighteen months).

One contestant can apply with only one project proposal. A leading competitor may not appear as a member of a consortium in another project proposal. A leading contestant may apply as a partner in another project proposal. One partner can apply for more than one project proposals.

The activities that are eligible for funding under the awarded project are:

  • Establishment (spatial adaptation and equipping) of the fabrication laboratory with research and development equipment;
  • Implementation of mentoring programs and providing professional support for research and development, design, testing, development of pilot lines, quality assurance, marketing and sales for young people aged 15 to 29 who are directly related to the goals of the fabrication laboratory.

The fabrication laboratory should be equipped with:

  • Laser cutting machine in 2D and 3D;
  • 3D printer;
  • High precision CNC machine for processing electrical circuits, molds, etc.;
  • Woodworking router machine.

The above list of equipment is not exhaustive.

The equipment should correspond to the proposed program of the fabrication laboratory.

Priority for financing will be given to those project proposals where the fabrication laboratory will have the complete equipment from the above list.

Costs eligible for funding under the awarded project are:

  • Procurement of research and development equipment, including software, as well as adaptation of space for installation of procured equipment;
  • Procurement of consumables for research and development (electronic components, office supplies, etc.);
  • Gross salaries – the amounts of the gross salaries for the employees engaged in the project should correspond to the established practices of the award beneficiary before the start of the project;
  • Hiring consultants for mentoring services, marketing and professional support – up to 30% of the total project budget;
  • Business support (project management costs, accounting services, legal services, etc.) – up to 15% of the total project budget;
  • Administrative costs (bank fees, costs for announcing public calls, etc.) – up to 5% of the total project budget.

The procured equipment should remain in permanent ownership of the public or private-public non-profit high education/scientific research institution, which premises are used for the fabrication laboratory.

Costs that are not eligible for funding under the awarded project are:

  • Repayment of interest or debt of another party;
  • Costs and commissions for past or possible future losses or debts;
  • Coverage of losses due to currency exchange, fees and penalties;
  • Expenses for entertainment and catering;
  • Staff recruitment costs (costs for publishing an announcement, commissions from employment agencies, costs related to the selection of candidates, etc.) and relocation costs;
  • Purchase of land or buildings, including renovation;
  • Cash payment from the special project account;
  • Export activities (costs directly related to the export of products, establishment and operation of a distribution network, etc.);
  • Annual patent maintenance fees (with the exception of well-justified cases assessed as an allowable cost when evaluating project proposals);
  • Salary supplements;
  • Costs for consulting services provided by the owner(s) of the company that is a beneficiary of the prize;
  • Renting of business premises from a lessor who participates in the activities of the project or is a person related to the beneficiary of the prize;
  • Procurement of passenger, freight and transport vehicles;
  • Procurement of used equipment;
  • Value Added Tax (VAT), in case the awarded entity is entitled to a VAT refund.

The costs for activities that were previously financed from other sources are also not eligible for funding.

The Fund reserves the right to negotiate with the winners regarding the definition of project activities and project budget based on recommendations received from the Evaluation and Selection Committee prior to the signing of the Award granting contract.

The contestant must not knowingly or intentionally infringe the intellectual property rights to any third party.

The Fund will not be liable for intellectual property rights disputes between the contestant/beneficiary of the prize and third parties.

Any project proposal submitted to a public call for funding by the Fund that has an impact on the environment must be in accordance with the Law on Environment and other relevant applicable laws and bylaws of the Republic of North Macedonia.

The evaluation, selection, and decision for awarding prizes are done by the Evaluation and Selection Commission.

Project evaluation consists of several steps:

  • Administrative confirmation of the submitted documents (whether the documentation is complete and following the eligibility conditions stated in the public call);
  • First evaluation of the project proposal (pre-selection);
  • Selection of the best project proposals – after the presentation of the pre-selected project proposals before the Evaluation and Selection Committee.

The process of administrative review, pre-selection, and selection will be completed within 60 (sixty) days after the deadline for submission of project proposals.

Each project proposal is evaluated by the Evaluation and Selection Committee, consisting of at least 5 (five) members including:

  • Representative of the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development;
  • Representative of the Ministry of Education and Science;
  • A representative from the academic community;
  • A representative from partner organizations;
  • A representative from the business sector (expert in the field of business development).

The Evaluation and Selection Committee evaluates each project proposal separately according to the following criteria:

  1. Quality of the project proposal – 20 points
    • The forwarded project proposal corresponds to the objectives of the public call.
    • The objectives of the project are feasible in the context of the proposed material and human resources and the duration of the project.
    • The proposed activities are precisely formulated and lead to the realization of the expected goals.
    • The target groups are precisely formulated and correspond to the objectives of the project.
    • The logical framework is properly filled.
  2. Quality of the proposed program – 20 points
    • The proposed program leads to the realization of the project objectives.
    • The proposed program corresponds to the age and scope of the target groups.
    • The proposed program provides the target groups with appropriate access to the spatial, technical, and material resources of the fabrication laboratory.
    • The proposed program is feasible in the context of the project duration and available resources.
  3. Quality of the project team – 20 points
    • The project team has relevant qualifications and previous experience in managing similar projects.
    • The project team has relevant qualifications, technical knowledge, and previous experience relevant to the implementation of the project program.
    • The project team has relevant qualifications and previous experience in networking and promotion.
  4. Impact (scientific and technological excellence, encouraging innovation activity in the private sector, employability, inclusion, regional and economic development, environmental impact, etc.) – 20 points
    • The project will have a significant impact on the identified target groups.
    • The project will have a significant impact beyond the identified target groups, especially aiming to strengthen the innovation activity in the private sector.
    • The potential impact on the identified target groups and the wider community is well explained and achievable.
  5. Additional funding provided – 10 points
    • The contestant will provide cash flow co-financing (5 points).
    • The contestant will provide additional funds over the mandatory co-financing from their own or other resources (5 points).
  6. Networking, promotion, and sustainability – 10 points
    • The contestant explains the sustainability of the activities of the fabrication laboratory after the completion of the project in a convincing way and with sufficient information.
    • Активностите на вмрежување и промоција се соодветни на поставените цели на проектот и идентификуваните целни групи.
    • The contestant has submitted contracts, letters of cooperation, and/or letters of interest for the provision of financial/in-kind/technical support by companies, donors, business associations, other associations and foundations, educational institutions, etc.

To apply for the Challenge, each contestant must submit the following documents:

  • Project application form – completed, signed, and printed in a form determined by the Fund, scanned in PDF format;
  • Project budget – completed, signed, and printed in a form determined by the Fund, scanned in PDF format;
  • Contracts, letters of cooperation, and letters of interest for the provision of financial/in-kind/technical support by companies, donors, business associations, other associations and foundations, educational institutions, etc.;
  • In case the premises for the fabrication laboratory are not owned by the contestant, the contestant must submit an Agreement or Letter of Interest for the transfer of the premises for the project’s requirements by a higher education/scientific research institution.

The Project Application and Project Budget forms are available and can be downloaded from the Fund’s website via the ‘DOWNLOAD DOCUMENTATION’ button..

The submission of the Project Application form is done by filling in the basic data and attaching all the necessary documentation through the “APPLY” button..

The Fund reserves the right to ask the competitor for additional documentation at all stages of the procedure. The competitor shall be obliged to submit the requested documentation within the deadline determined by the Fund. 

The deadline for submission of project proposals is from 20.07.2021 until 14.00.

Only those project proposals that are completed in the forms determined for this challenge by the Fund, submitted in the above manner and within the given deadline shall be taken into consideration for granting awards.

The rules and procedures for implementation, monitoring and supervision of the project are defined in the document Rules for organizing and conducting competitions or challenges to encourage innovation in priority areas in science and technology.

For all additional information you can:

  • contact us on the e-mail address fablabs@fitr.mk
  • call us on the telephone number 389 (0) 23145258.

In order to assist you in preparing the project proposals, the Fund will organize info events during the call. Information on these activities will be published promptly on the Fund’s website and social media.

 

  1. Question: Does the premises of the production laboratories can be owned by the Association of Citizens for Education?

Answer: No, according to the conditions in the public call, the premises of the production laboratory should be owned by:

(a) public universities in their science-oriented units (scientific institutes) and in science-oriented education units (faculties);

(b) independent public higher education institutions;

(c) private-public non-profit higher education institutions;

(d) public scientific institutions and mixed scientific institutions established in accordance with the Law on Higher Education or the Law on Scientific Research;

(e) companies that are predominantly owned by public higher education institutions (50.1% of more);

 

  1. Question: Can a private higher education institution apply as an applicant?

 Answer: A private higher education institution can only apply as a partner and / or a member of a consortium, the conditions to be met by the single applicant or the leading competitor are:

 

  • The contestant should be a legal entity registered in the Central Register of the Republic of North Macedonia, as follows:

(a) public universities in their science-oriented units (scientific institutes) and in science-oriented education units (faculties);

(b) independent public higher education institutions;

(c) private-public non-profit higher education institutions;

(d) public scientific institutions and mixed scientific institutions established under the Law on Higher Education or the Law on Scientific Research;

(e) companies that are predominantly owned by public higher education institutions (50.1% of more);

(f) legal entities registered under the Law on Associations and Foundations Active in the Fields of Youth, Education, Science, Technology, and/or Innovation.

  • The contestant should not have accumulated more than 200,000 (two hundred thousand) euros of minor assistance for three fiscal years, including the amount requested from the Fund in accordance with the Law on State Aid Control and the Regulation on the conditions and procedure for granting minor assistance (de minimis).

 

 

   3. Question Can we get more detailed information about the type of equipment listed in the public call, what type of molds are in the CNC machines, can you send us an example / suggestion of machines that you have reviewed to understand how the recommendation came about for this group of machines.

Answer: Because this lab should enable prototyping, we mean a machine that would enable prototyping / mold making. The list of machines stated in the call is given with a more general description precisely because the recommendation for the group of machines is not to specify them, for each competitor to suggest a machine that best suits the program he proposes. Especially because this is an approach that does not provide equipment according to pre-determined locations and technical specifications, but according to the expressed interest in the needs of competitors.

 

  1. Question: The conditions that each competitor must meet are stated as "public universities in their science-oriented units (scientific institutes) and in science-oriented education units (faculties)". Since UKIM is one legal entity with separate units, faculties, institutes and associate members, will more than one application from UKIM faculties be considered as individual applications or can only one UKIM member apply?

Answer: Each special unit of UKIM can submit a project proposal to this public call as a competitor, and one competitor can apply with only one project proposal.

 

  1. Question: Proposed projects for the establishment of production laboratories should offer conditions for the construction of a prototype or small production of an innovative solution that can be tested in a laboratory and industrial environment or on the market. Can project funding include concept testing in terms of an innovative solution, or must a specific product necessarily emerge from the funded projects?

Answer: Youth lab programs in manufacturing laboratories should enable young people to achieve some of the TRL (Technology Readiness Levels) levels of technological readiness within the innovation cycle. Depending on the industry and innovation, it can be a prototype that can be tested in a laboratory environment, a prototype that can be tested in an industrial environment and / or a product that can be tested in the market.

 

  1. Question: How would the FITD funds be realized for the projects that will be selected for funding? Would part or all of the funds from FITD be paid in advance or after the realization of the project? We ask this because the projects envisage procurement of equipment for laboratories, so we are not interested in whether the applicant selected for funding should finance this activity himself, in order to receive the funds from the Fund after the realization of the project?

 

Answer: The project budget is planned on a quarterly basis, as provided in the project budget form. The financing of the project is done in accordance with Chapter “VI. Implementation of the projects” from the Rules for organizing and conducting competitions and challenges to encourage innovation in the priority areas of science and technology, ie the funds are paid by the Fund in advance on a quarterly basis.

 

  1. Question: In the call itself as eligible financing costs (among other things) is the gross salaries of the persons who will be employed in the project, and in the excell application form, where the budget is created there is no such item, where and how are these costs represented?

 Answer: In the project Budget form, in the worksheet "Completion Guidelines" it is stated that:

Item Ia. Project management:

The persons represented here may be employed on a permanent or fixed-term contract time, full-time or

part-time, to be engaged under a Contract of Work or Original agreement.

In case of partial engagement, the project engagement amount is displayed

This would mean that under this item could be provided persons who are employed on a contract for an indefinite or fixed period of time by the applicant.

 

  1. Question: According to the Law on Public Procurement, as a budget institution, in case of receiving support from FITD with this call, we should conduct a call for public procurement of laboratory equipment. In the project application that we are preparing, we envisage equipping the laboratory with a part of equipment that can not be procured from us, ie it should be imported from abroad. For that purpose, in addition to the basic price, in budget planning we should also consider the costs of transport, customs, leisure, freight forwarding services and VAT.

 Answer: The costs of transportation, customs, freight and freight forwarding services and all costs directly related to the procurement of equipment are costs that are eligible for funding under this public call. The cost of VAT is not an eligible cost only in the case when the awarded entity is entitled to a VAT refund.

 

  1. Question: Is there a possibility for obtaining exemption from customs and VAT from the competent institutions and in what way? Can any exemption from these fees apply to a legal entity that would respond to our public procurement notice regarding the procurement of laboratory equipment? Of course, noting that this is laboratory equipment for a higher education institution.

Answer: The applicable legal regulations apply to the procurement of equipment through the project financed under this public call. The Fund does not apply special regulations regarding these procurements.

 

  1. Question: Can a company, which wants to financially support us in the application for the establishment of a production laboratory, make payments to third parties, for example for the procurement of materials or services provided in the project? Without the funds that they are obliged to participate, to lie on the project account?  

Answer: All funds that are presented as co-financing of the project through cash will have to be transferred to a separate dedicated account of the project, in advance for each individual quarter. The funds presented as in-kind co-financing are also subject to cost verification, ie the Fund will require insight into documentation through which the recipient of the award will prove that these costs are realized by the competitor and / or the consortium member.