In the first part of the presentation Mr Hoffmann outlined the origins of the funds; describing the five key objectives adopted by the European Commission to be achieved by 2020, and explaining how the grants (and thus the projects' beneficiaries) should set out to achieve these objectives. The participants learned about how EU funds are structured:
Framework Programmes; EU programmes; and the Structural and Cohesion Funds.
The main part of the event focused on those funds that are currently available, despite the fact that the measures under the new financial perspective for 2014-2020 had not yet begun.
Mr Hoffmann said that there are funds which the European Commission administers directly from Brussels, as well as programmes such as the Framework Programme Horizon 2020 (whose budget is €80 billion), LIFE, TEN-T and Euro Stars. Application rounds for these are begin several times a year. The HORIZON 2020, contrary to popular belief, has already been functioning since December 2013. Mr Hoffmann also pointed out that besides the programmes run directly from Brussels, there are also national programmes which are still running, despite the overlap in financial perspectives. In Poland these are:
- FAST TRACK – an NCBiR (national R&D centre) programme financing the implementation of the results of R&D to take ideas through to the prototype stage
- GECKO – funding environmental innovation
- DEMONSTRATOR – a support grant for major R&D projects aimed at the implementation of research results.
- Numerous competitions announced by NFOŚiGW (the national environmental and water management fund) with financial contributions to support energy efficiency projects.
Participants asked about smart specialisation in the regions presented during the meeting – that is, the principles and criteria on which each province will have to finance the region. The most important was whether businesses will have the opportunity to influence the shape of smart specialisation in their region. Most provinces have already adopted and approved their smart specialisations, however, they are subject to annually review and consultation, which leaves the door open to businesses to submit their proposals.