EU funds

Author: Tomislav Bačurin

On December 12 2014, the European Comission approved Operational Programmes „Competitiveness and cohesion 2014-2020“ and „Efficient human resources“.

Through the „Competitiveness and cohesion 2014-2020“ programme, Croatia will have access to  6,881 billion euro of European Union funds dedicated to investment in growth and development.   Most of these funds will be financed from the European Regional Development Fund, and a smaller part from the Cohesion Fund.

Poduzetnički impuls for 2015 was also announced – a programme that encourages entrepreneurs and businesses, started by the Ministry in 2012.   For 2015 the value of said program is the highest since the start of its implementation – 4.37 billion.

But what does that actually mean for entrepreneurs in our country? Can we in all these programs clearly identify opportunities for the development of our own competitiveness?

We are often met with the entrepreneurial attitude that in our bureaucratic (un)organized state administration these numbers are intended primarily for the promotion of the current ruling elite, and that the reality of getting incentives is quite different. Some entrepreneurs are justifiably disappointed by the failure of their application not being accepted, so they give up on that channel of business development.

We have to take into account that the Operational Programmes for Croatia are intended for a period of five years, until 2020. The period of five years in small and medium enterprises is an extremely long and hardly predictable. However, if we focus on our own business, ideas and projects we would like to implement for development of competitives within the company and lay the foundations of the project, so that even if we start the implementation schedule that suits us, we achieve a significant advantage in case of co-financing of the project by certain institutions. To make it clear: it’s wrong to wait for co-financing possibility announcements and only then think of projects or adapt existing ones. There are several problems in this scenario, and the biggest one is that the deadline for proposals is often relatively short. It’s difficult to clearly define a project and its intended results if we don’t have enough time to analyze the project itself or to achieve best business results based on it.

Entrepreneurship development through EU funds shouldn’t be based only on dull figures, meaning just obtaining grant funds for a project. Working that way won’t change what’s missing from our business environment – innovative ideas and projects that have a tendency to create additional value, beyond domestic market and consequently creating an entrepreneurial mindset within the community.

This can only be accomplished by recognizing that co-financing of ideas and projects from EU funds is only a potential channel for obtaining business goals a bit more easily. It’s necessary to continuously work on the development of business, analyze the tendencies of the market and try to identify development opportunities. EU funds will be best used by creating quality projects and using creativity in design of business models. Even if our project isn’t recognized by evaluators and doesn’t get a sufficient number of points, we shouldn’t stop developing and implementing it, if circumstances (usually financial ones) allow it. Like we said, 5 years is a long time and give us the opportunity for finishing initially unrecognized projects.

The summary is this: encouraging entrepreneurship should not only mean a financial injection to entrepreneurs to help them in the realization of an idea, encouraging entrepreneurship must result in a new way of creative thinking in the market and in an environment that will finally be able to compete with new technologically advanced economies. In the end, we’ll use data from one of the social networks:

Let’s try to imagine what these companies would seek incentives for, in the beginning? Would their projects have been identified in relevant institutions?