Innotech Student provides student entrepreneurs and universities supporting them with grants up to EUR 100 000. The funding is preceded by training and combined with skills development, mentoring and other support. The Romanian Ministry of European Funds manages the initiative, which is developed as part of the Romanian Operational Programme "Human Capital" with support from the European Social Fund.
Innotech Student was launched in 2020 to promote entrepreneurial careers among Romanian students in various fields by helping them familiarise themselves with entrepreneurship, facilitating access to finance and providing business support.
Innotech Student is open to students enrolled in their last year of post-secondary or tertiary education, doctoral students, and post-doctoral researchers. Eligible projects can receive a grant up to EUR 100 000. The programme includes a training component prior to the application process: candidates receive an introductory course in business provided by educational institutions or NGOs. Following completion of the initial educational component, students develop business plans, the best of which are selected for funding by a jury of entrepreneurs and specialists. The amount of the grant awarded is based on the expected number of jobs to be created by the start-up, from EUR 40 000 for two jobs created up to EUR 100 000 for five jobs. The grant can cover from 70% up to 100% of eligible expenses. The programme has two phases. First, successful candidates progress to the mentoring and business simulation stage of the programme, during which they are also offered internships in companies relevant to their planned venture. Second, student entrepreneurs receive support from programme operators for a year while they set up their business and start operations. Participants are then monitored for the following six months to support survival. The grant is disbursed in two tranches: entrepreneurs receive 75% upon registration of the company, and the remaining 25% when they can demonstrate that the start-up will generate profits of 30% of the first tranche’s value. The programme also funds the salaries of company employees during the first year of activity. The Innotech Student programme favours start-ups focused on technology and innovation in various sectors, including information technologies, robotics, industrial automation, biotechnology, and the food industry.
Innotech Student was launched in 2020 with an initial budget of EUR 20 million. In 2021, this budget increased to EUR 65.2 million (of which approximately EUR 45.6 million should reach the students, and the rest may be used by grant administrators such as universities for project expenses including salaries, rents and travel).
In 2020, applications were received from prospective grant administrators (institutions) for 351 large projects valued at approximately EUR 2 million each. Of these, 252 were admitted in principle and, to date, three projects (all administered by universities) have been accepted for financing. Together, these projects shall receive EUR 5.9 million, which represents 29.57% of the total Innotech Student budget allocation, and they are expected to lead to the development of 83 student-led small businesses, which would represent 25.54% of the target number (325) of supported enterprises. At the time of writing, the rest of the applications were still under evaluation. Upon completion of the evaluation and any appeals process, the full list of approved projects will be published on the Ministry of Investment and European Projects’ website.
- Coșman, O. (2020) “ Innotech Student: granturi pentru studenții care vor să facă business în România”, start-up.ro, https://start-up.ro/innotech-student-granturi-pentru-studentii-care-vor-sa-faca-business-in-romania/&prev=search&pto=aue
- Ministry of European Investments and Projects (2021), « Innotech Students », https://mfe.gov.ro/calendar/innotech-student/.
- Ministry of European Investments and Projects (2021), https://mfe.gov.ro/lista-intermediara-a-cererilor-de-finantare-care-au-fost-aprobate-in-etapa-de-evaluare-tehnica-si-financiara-respectiv-lista-intermediara-a-proiectelor-selectate-la-finantare-si-lista-intermediara-a/
- Startup Café (2021), « Suplimentare de buget la fondurile pentru studenți-antreprenori Innotech », www.startupcafe.ro/fonduri-europene/suplimentare-buget-innotech-student.htm&prev=search&pto=aue
- Startup Café (2020), “ Finanţări de până la 100.000 euro pentru studenţii antreprenori. Programul Innotech Student a fost lansat”, www.startupcafe.ro/fonduri-europene/innotech-student-2020-finantare-studenti-afaceri.htm