The Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovation for Competitiveness (OP EIC) is the key programme for supporting Czech entrepreneurs in the 2014-2020 programming period. Applicants may use its funding for co-financing business projects in the manufacturing industry and related services. Grants may be won by projects implemented in the territory of the Czech Republic apart from the City of Prague. The European Regional Development Fund has earmarked EUR 4,331 mil., i.e. around CZK 110 bil. for this operational programme.
The Managing Authority of OP EIC is the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The role of the intermediate body is played by the Business and Innovation Agency (API). In this position, it carries out specific implementation activities for OP EIC-supported activities, e.g. appraisal of projects in terms of meeting eligibility criteria and formal requirements, administration of payment claims, monitoring of projects, etc. Another important activity of the API is supporting applicants and providing information on the options for obtaining financial support, and consultancy for grant beneficiaries.
The OP EIC is focused on increasing the innovation performance of enterprises, utilising the results of industrial research and experimental development and fostering the entrepreneurship and competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises. It also supports activities to reduce the energy intensity of the business sector, activities helping to increase the share of renewable energy, the development of distribution networks and the application of new technologies in the energy sector. Other supported areas include expanding the high-speed Internet access networks and the development of information and communications technologies.
The programme prioritises small and medium-sized enterprises but specific activities are also suitable for large enterprises, business groupings, research organisations, innovation infrastructure entities, public benefit societies, non-profit organisations and bodies of State administration and local governments and organisations funded and co-funded by them.
The operational programme consists of five priority axes. The OP EIC priority axes cover twelve investment priorities under five thematic objectives. The priority axes are further divided into specific objectives under which twenty-three aid programmes have been set up. An exception is Priority Axis 5 Technical Assistance, which is intended to support the management and implementation of the operational programme.
The OP EIC priority axes are:
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