European funds attract Czech entrepreneurs. A rather complicated system of subsidy drawing and a lack of both clear methodology and rules, however, prevent much broader utilisation of available money.
In March 2014, GovDaily news carried out a poll among Czech entrepreneurs regarding European funds. As the results show, subsidies are a very attractive way of financing their projects. The entrepreneurs, nevertheless, criticise an amount of red tape involved causing unnecessary administration burden.
“The coming subsidy period should be, indeed, implemented in a framework reflecting entrepreneurs‘ complains as the drawing procedure and subsidy system are to become much more transparent,“ says Jiří Kvíz, expert on EU funds and Advisory Team Leader at eNovation s.r.o. “The subsidies thus can become even more attractive financial tool than in the past. As the preparation for the coming budget period shows, new forms of projects financing will be seen in the next years,“ adds Mr. Kvíz.
The entrepreneurs who have already used EU subsidies tend to agree that the money had a positive impact on their business. Among the operational programmes relevant for Czech applicants, Operational programme Enterprises and Innovation is perceived as the most successfull in this respect. 72 percent of the respondents marked this programme with the best grade. Equally good evaluation received this programme for its positive impact on regional development. On the contrary, Regional operational programmes were assessed as the least beneficial which is a rather surprising result as the regional competitiveness enhancement and increase of region’s attractivity for investors are their primary goals.
More than a half of respondents intend to use EU structural funds in near future. The entrepreneurs plan to use the EU funds mainly for a purchase of new technologies. An interest in drawing from funds is larger (63 percent) among those who have already utilised money allocated by Brussels. A heavy administration burden is, on the other hand, the most frequently mentioned reason why the respondents do not want to apply for EU subsidies. Out of those who do not have any experience with EU funds yet, only 19 percent show interest in drawing in the next budget period.
The poll provided another important output relevant for PR a marketing activities in the coming subsidy period 2014 – 2020. More than 60 percent of companies that have not used the funds see unavailable relevant information as a large obstacle for their subsidy applications. The bleak state improves when successful applicants are asked. Even though the figure of 12 percent companies claiming to be sufficiently informed about EU funds is far from being satisfactory, 58 percent respondents reassure that they know where to find needed information.