The Fund for Innovation and Technology Development announced today the new public call “With digital transformation to innovation” which is created in cooperation with the Increasing Market Employability Program of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and INOFEIT DIH.
The call is intended for small and medium-sized enterprises from the agricultural, food and tourism sectors, in order to increase the innovative activities and competitiveness of the enterprises through the introduction of digital solutions that will lead to a digital transformation in operations. At the same time, the challenge aims to improve the strengthening of the capacities of digital additional innovation hubs as part of the ecosystem necessary for further digital transformation.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises are particularly faced with challenges in the area of digital transformation, due to limited financial opportunities, but also due to the need for knowledge to implement new digital processes. I believe that the digitization process is essential and a strategic step for companies to become more competitive, to increase efficiency, productivity and have access to foreign markets. In that direction, together with our partners IME and INOFEIT DIH, we have created the challenge, in order to meet the enterprise’s needs, to support their business for various unforeseen challenges, to make full digital transformation and to develop much faster into global brands”, said Festim Halili, director of the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development.
Halili added that through the support of digital transformation challenge, the enterprisers can digitilize processes and services that will allow them to plan better, bring business based on data analysis and improve the overall purchase of operations, products, services and products, to optimize the production process and thereby increase large economies of scale, reduce production costs and thereby create a more competitive price, etc.
The total budget of the call is 18,450,000 denars, of which 12,300,000 denars are provided by the Fund, and rest is provided by IME. The Fund is financing up to 70% of the total budget for a project for a micro or small enterprise, and up to 50% of the total budget for projects for medium enterprisers, in a maximum amount of 1,845,000 denars.
“Even if the pandemic and the energy crisis have encouraged the need for digitalization, however, facing with big challenges, many of the companies in agribusiness and tourism are lagging behind in terms of the degree of digital maturity and the use of digital forces in functioning. This call is continuation of the successful cooperation of the Swiss program IME with the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development and is an excellent opportunity to encourage the companies from these sectors to invest in digital solutions, in order to optimize costs, digital management and monitoring of processes, improved productivity and competitiveness, and easier access to markets. In addition to effective digital transformation, it is crucial to create collaboration and knowledge sharing between the sector (ICT and non-ICT sector), digital hubs and academia. At the same time, the call represents the initiation of activities from the draft strategy for smart specialization, which in turn enables the connection of the ICT sector with some of the priority domains of smart specialization” said Goran Damovski, Director of the Swiss Program for Increasing Market Employability – IME.
At this challenge, companies are encouraged to submit project proposals for the development, implementation and maintenance of digital solutions that, through digital transformation, will lead to the development of innovative products, processes and services for companies. The selected projects will be presented and accessible to young people aged 15 to 25, through at least one free training organized by the recipient of financial support. Digital solutions can be based on artificial intelligence, virtual reality, automation, robotics, internet of things, web-based solutions and other solutions.
“Cooperation with the Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) is essential for the process of digital transformation in society. INOFEIT, as the only European certified and fully operational DIH in the country, makes its resources available in this call for the validation of the degree of implementation of digital technologies that can increase the degree of digital maturity among applicants and, of course, enable their more competitiveness in the market. The activities of INOFEIT DIH have been supported for a long time by the partners FITD and IME and this call is a continuation of the joint initiative to increase the use of digital technologies by small and medium-sized enterprises in our country and strengthen the cooperation between businesses and academia. INOFEIT DIH, with its recognized European status and network of contacts, can help further growth and cooperation of the applicants with various regional and international partners” said Prof. Dr. Vladimir Atanasovski, manager of INOFEIT DIH.
The criteria that the applicant must fulfill are: that it is a trading company established in accordance with the Law on Trading Companies and registered in the Central Register of the Republic of North Macedonia, the annual income of the competitor does not exceed 10,000,000 euros in Denar equivalents, according to the financial reports for the previous two fiscal years, the average number of employees not to exceed 250 employees and etc. To this challenge, enterprises owned or managed by women or young people up to 29 years of age are especially encouraged to apply.
Regarding the activities of the project proposal, they should include: activities for research and development, introduction and testing of a new product, service, or process as a result of digital transformation at the competitor and etc. All received project proposals are evaluated by the Commission for Evaluation and Selection, which consists of five members: three members – external experts in the field of the challenge and one member – a representative of the partner organization and the Fund. The criteria on which the evaluation will be based are: degree of innovation, capacity of the project team, quality of the project, market potential and impact.
All those interested can apply no later than March 20, 2023, by 2:00 p.m. More information about the public call can be obtained at the following link: https://fitr.mk/digitalna-transformacija/