Small and medium-sized companies in Catalonia currently have access to an instrument for financing technological services that are provided by accredited suppliers in the surrounding area. The programme is called Tecnobons and is promoted by the Catalan Agency for Business Competitiveness (ACCIÃ“), which gives companies up to 3,000 euros towards the first steps in public-private cooperation for innovation.
This initiative is applied in local environments, but reflects an international trend to strengthen links between technology centres and companies. Similar programmes have been set up in Navarra and the Canary Islands, as well as in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Australian state of Victoria.
A similar mechanism is used in all cases. Companies that want to start to working with technology centres to obtain specialized services – including technology forecasting, state of the art studies, technological feasibility studies for industry, and the testing and assessment of processes, methods, materials, products and services – select the most suitable service provider from a set of organizations validated by the government body offering the financial aid. Then, they send a Tecnobons application to the entity managing the scheme. If the application is approved, the technology supplier provides the requested service. Any service costs that are not covered by the Tecnobons voucher are paid for by the company. When the work has been completed and delivered, the centre submits proof of the service and the government pays the part corresponding to the Technobon voucher.
Governments’ interest in promoting this kind of collaborations, which strengthen processes of innovation and public-private collaboration, is not limited to this kind of financial aid. However, unlike other calls for proposals in which incentives are offered to each agent in the system, Tecnobons ensure that an added value technology-based activity is carried out with the effective involvement of both parties.
This is a flexible instrument, in which companies can choose what they use the financial aid for. This ensures interest in both the process and the result, as services are paid for jointly. It also encourages service providers to promote the development of services and technology solutions that meet external demand.
The process is simple, and the management of payment and proof of the work is designed to be fast and help the activities to run smoothly. The programme is designed for small and medium-sized companies. Its results soon benefit the recipients. For many it will be a scheme that helps to facilitate the first experience of collaborating for innovation.
In Catalonia, the Tecnobons scheme is developed in collaboration with members of the Government of Catalonia’s Tecnio network and research centres that are recognized by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The CIT UPC Technology Center, is a Tecnobons provider.
For further information on the Tecnobons programme see: http://upc-cit.com/1ugxAC2
Call for proposals open until 31 December 2014.