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State aid to organisations carrying out economic activities (companies)

To stimulate competitiveness there are rules on how public funding may finance companies and other organisations that carry out economic activities. The rules on state aid means that we can only provide funding to certain types of activities or projects.

The rules on state aid apply to organisations that carry out economic activities. When we grant funding to these organisations, we do so on the basis of one of these:

  • The European Commission's Block Exemption Regulation (GBER)
  • The Swedish Governent's De Minimis Aid Regulation.

Why there are rules on state aid

The EU rules on state aid set the framework for member states' rights to fund activities with public funds.

The rules are based on the main principle in EU law that funding to organisations carrying out economic activities normally distorts competition. However, some exceptions can be made, including funding for research, development and innovation.

Vinnova's regulations on state aid can be found in the Swedish Government's regulation (2015: 208) on state support for research and development and innovation, also called the "Support scheme".

It refers to the EU Commission Regulation on General Block Exemptions (GBER) and the Commission Regulation on support of minor importance.

Ordinance regarding state aid for research and development as well as innovation (pdf) - in Swedish European Commission's General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) 651/2014 (pdf)

What we mean by economic activities

The rules on state aid only applies if the beneficiary is a company. Companies are defined as organisations that carry out economic activities. This means that the definition isn't dependent on the legal status of the company or how the company is financed.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that all activities, goods and services in a market constitute economic activities. The company's form, profit purpose, owner, remuneration or membership fees are not decisive factors.

This means that even non-profit organisations can be classified as carrying out economic activities if they offer goods and services in a market.

State aid levels according to the GBER

The rules for state aid allow us to provide funding for certain kinds of activities or projects. The proportion of a party's eligible costs that we fund is called the aid intensity. It's expressed as a percentage.

The maximum aid intensity that we may provide depends on the organisation's size and the type of project. Smaller companies may receive higher aid intensity levels than bigger companies. To work out the size of a company, we aplpy the EU definition of SMEs.

We usually require that the beneficiary contributes financially as well. This is sometimes called co-funding. If a project is co-funded by other public funds, it can affect our ability to finance the project.

Please note that the state aid rules give us a framework, but we can decide to provide less funding than the rules allow.

Table of aid intensities and definitions for Vinnova funding (pdf) - in Swedish How the European Commission defines small and medium-sized enterprises (pdf)

De minimis aid

Besides aid according to the General Block Exemption Regulation, we may also provide de minimis aid according to the De Minimis Aid Regulation (Commission Regulation (EU) No 1407/2013). When we intend to provide de minimis aid in a call, it's stated in the call text and in the decision.

How much de minimis aid we may provide

The maximum permitted amount for de minimis aid is EUR 200,000 per company over three tax years. To work out the total aid awarded under this ordinance to the same company, you should add them together. You should also include any aid awarded to other parts of a group that the company is part of. If you have received aid according to the European Commission's Block Exemption Regulation, you shouldn't include that aid in this calculation.

For example, if a company has received aid of EUR 50,000 in the first year, we can award a maximum of EUR 150,000 the second year. Then, the same company may not receive any de minimis aid at all in the third year. In the fourth year, we can award another EUR 50,000. If you, as a grant recipient, are part of a corporate group, you need to add in all grants within the corporate group.

For companies in the road transport sector, the highest permitted de minimis aid is EUR 100,000 over three tax years.

Provide certificates of earlier funding

Every company that applies for de minimis aid must submit an account of how much de minimis aid they have been awarded in the previous two tax years and the ongoing tax year.

Declaration about other de minimis aid

Any questions?

If you have any questions, please contact the person who's responsible for the call. The person responsible for the call is stated on the respective call page.

Last updated 2 July 2021

Page manager: Anna Oback

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