Guest expert Silva Hunt on some of the main grants available for e-residents, eligibility criteria and how to apply
This guest article about funding and grants available for e-residents was written by Dagne Aaremäe at Silva Hunt. Silva Hunt is an experienced business service provider for Estonian companies and a trusted member of the e-Residency Marketplace.
Whether you are a startup or a scaleup, rapid growth is a common goal for many e-residents here in Estonia. But achieving this is easier said than done, and it’s almost impossible without an injection of funding.
Seeking finance can feel daunting, but there are startup business grants available to e-residents with a company in Estonia. These provide great opportunities for businesses to secure funding, develop and grow, or participate in mentoring, workshops, and networking sessions.
Admittedly, it’s not always as easy as it seems but with a bit of research, you’ll find grants suitable for your business. And more importantly, which ones you have the best possible chance of being awarded.
But first, in order to be successful in applying for a grant, it is important to choose the right grant for your business. This comes down to three simple things:
- The type of business you have
- The needs of your business
- What you want to achieve for your business in the future
With these criteria in mind, Silva Hunt is here to help identify the best grants available to you as an e-resident, to assist in growing your venture. We’ve made it easy by conducting our own research on the latest grants and subsidies available to e-residents. Here are a few of our recommendations.
Important Note: E-residents with Estonian companies are generally eligible for grants awarded in the EU and Estonia. However, be sure to check the specific eligibility criteria of each grant as it relates to your business activities, finances, and operations. You can also consult with Enterprise Estonia on relevant funding and grants opportunities for you and your business.
Option 1: Eurostars Programme
What is it?
The EU Partnership on Innovative SMEs/Eurostars programme is a competition with a large international funding pool. This programme awards substantial grants to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from participating countries collaborating on joint projects. Funds are awarded for collaborative and market-driven R&D projects that support the creation of innovative products, processes or services for commercialisation. The Eureka Association, the world’s biggest public network for international cooperation in R&D and innovation, manages the award programme using a centralised evaluation process. Enterprise Estonia funds the R&D costs for Estonian SMEs participating in the Eurostars programme.
While the programme is competitive, it does present consortia of companies with a valuable opportunity to apply for finance. On average, 29% of applicants successfully receive funding.
Who is it for?
The programme is aimed at joint projects of SMEs. These consortia should have the ambition to collaborate on R&D and innovation with international partners to develop new products, processes, or services for European and global markets.
Maximum grant amount: €300,000
How to apply:
To apply, there are seven eligibility criteria, all of which you must fulfil. The main three criteria to be aware of include:
- An innovative SME from a country covered by the programme must lead the project consortium. This of course includes Estonia, meaning e-resident companies are eligible.
- At least two independent entities are required in the project consortium.
- The project has an exclusive focus on civil applications, meaning the end product is useful for the general public.
For the additional eligibility criteria as well as some nation-specific criteria, visit the Eureka Association website here to learn more. The website also covers the application process in detail.
Option 2: Programme for Applied Research
What is it?
Ventures and innovative projects that are related either to cyber, smart or sustainable energy solutions are eligible for this next grant. Depending on your project’s focus, the Programme for Applied Research can provide you with a significant boost of income. This funding supports the development of new innovative technologies, products, services, or processes. The programme is managed by Enterprise Estonia.
The funding will also enable you to test the feasibility and commerciality of your ideas, try new materials, and undertake research to take your innovative product/service to market.
Who is it for?
Applications are open to any business registered in Estonia, including those founded by e-residents, regardless of the size or age of the company. The programme welcomes projects ranging from e-health technology and services, digital solutions using AI, to the upcycling of local resources such as wood, food, coal and nanotechnology.
Maximum grant amount: €2,000,000
How to apply:
Before submitting an application, companies must first attend a mandatory preliminary consultation and assessment. If your preliminary assessment is successful, you will then be given the green light to complete and submit your application.
The Enterprise Estonia website has more information here.
Option 3: Crowdfunding
Another great option for e-residents is to crowdfund. You can get finance for your business idea from crowd funders if they believe in your business concept.
There are many crowdfunding platforms, including the following based in Estonia:
- Fundwise: a platform for equity crowdfunding allowing businesses looking for funding to meet investors, or
- Prototron: provides up to €35,000 in equity-free funding and mentoring to create a functional prototype and start a successful business.
In addition to these options, there are other funding avenues to consider if grants are not the right solution. The e-Residency team have covered a number of ways to get support in Estonia on their Knowledge Base here.
Instead of a grant, you could approach banks directly for an investment loan or enter startup pitching competitions. Or, you could approach investors such as Funderbeam and ESTBAN directly. We’ve covered some of these alternatives in a previous blog post here.
Startup Estonia also has further information on these possibilities. They encourage Estonian startups to get involved in business networks and strengthen your presence to open up a world of possibilities for you and your business.
If you’re looking to scale your venture, get in touch with Silva Hunt – we’ll help identify the best grants available to you as an e-resident.