State aid regulations
– for private and public organisations that engage in economic activity
These regulations apply to organisations that are engaged in economic activity, such as private companies, when they receive funding from Formas. Here, we summarize the state aid regulations and describe what we can fund.
We can fund specific types of projects
Formas can provide financial support to organisations for certain types of projects. The EU rules on state aid for enterprises determine the types of projects that can be awarded funding and the percentage of the total costs we can fund. In most cases, we also require a financial investment from the company itself.
The portion of the total costs that we fund is called aid intensity and is expressed as a percentage. The aid intensity is based on the type of project involved and on the size of the organisation. Smaller enterprises often get more opportunities to receive funding. Several organisations can apply for funding for a joint project, but we decide on the aid intensity for each grant recipient. We do this because different recipients are allowed to receive different grant amounts according to the regulations.
What does the EU consider an enterprise?
To be subject to EU state aid rules, your organisation must be considered an enterprise in the legal sense according to the EU. The EU has defined an enterprise as “any entity that is engaged in economic activity, irrespective of its legal form.” This means that it does not matter if the organisation applying for funding is a limited company, a foundation or a non-profit organisation – it is the economic activity that is the determining factor.
Economic activity is usually defined as the sale of goods or services at a given price, on a given market. Economic activity also includes goods or services that are typically offered on a market, even if they do not do so in a specific case. This could be the case, for example, when special interest groups offer their members certain services without charging for them.
How we assess the size of organisations seeking funding
We follow the EU’s definition of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) when we assess the size of organisations applying for funding. Small enterprises are those that have between 10 and 49 employees and whose turnover or balance sheet total does not exceed 10 million euros per year. Medium-sized enterprises are those that have between 50 and 249 employees and have an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euros or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euros. Enterprises with less than 10 employees are treated as small enterprises.
State aid provisions
The provisions enabling Formas to provide funding to organisations are contained in the Swedish government’s Regulation (2017:195) on state aid for research and development and innovation in the environment, agricultural sciences and spatial planning. It is based on the European Commission’s General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) 651/2014 and on the EU de minimis regulation. The latter type of aid, de minimis, is a small amount of aid (read more under Provisions on de minimis aid, below).
The regulations are based on the principle of EU law that state aid to enterprises normally distorts competition, but that certain exemptions are allowed. These exemptions include support for research and development as well as innovation.
Our aid regulation sets out the categories of state aid we can provide to organisations. We can provide funding for:
- Research and development projects
- Consultancy services in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises
- Process innovation and organisational innovation
- Innovation clusters
- Research and development in the fishery and aquaculture sector
- Investment aid for research infrastructures
- Innovation aid for small and medium-sized enterprises.
For each of these categories of aid, there is a maximum aid intensity and a maximum allowable aid amount as determined by the EU GBER. The maximum aid intensity depends on the type of company seeking funding and how the project is designed. Formas may decide on a lower aid intensity and aid amount than the maximum allowed.
Here you can read more about how much funding Formas can pay out and how you total and report the funding your company or organisation has received.
If you are awarded funding, you must submit a certificate to us indicating whether you have previously received de minimis aid and, if so, the amount.
The amount of de minimis aid that can be paid
The maximum de minimis aid Formas can grant is 200,000 euros over a period of three consecutive fiscal years. One exception is for the road transport sector, where the maximum aid is 100,000 euros over three consecutive fiscal years.
If your company receives funding of 50,000 euros the first year, we can grant a maximum of 150,000 euros the second year. In the third year, your company cannot receive any more funding of this type. During the fourth year, we can grant 50,000 euros.
How to report the funding you receive
Any de minimis aid received by a company or organisation must be totalled and reported. If the recipient is part of a group of companies, all aid within the group should be totalled. (You should not include aid granted under the European Commission’s block exemption regulation in your totals.)
Provide a certificate of previous aid
Anyone applying for de minimis aid must submit a statement that states the amount of aid received during the previous two fiscal years and the current fiscal year.
Obligation to repay
If your organisation, or a project partner you collaborate with, has received funding in error or has received an amount that is too high, then the aid might have to be returned in its entirety.
We will verify before, during and after the project period that the regulations on state aid are being complied with.
Formas’ special terms and conditions
For projects where at least one company is a project party, Formas has special terms and conditions that apply together with our general terms and conditions. Some clauses in the specific terms and conditions are different than in the general terms. In such cases, the special terms and conditions prevail over the general terms and conditions. The document is only available in Swedish.