aws Impulse is a grant for projects of SMEs involving the Creative Industries (CI) marked by a high level of innovation.
The pre-seeding programme aws impulse (aws impulse XS and aws impulse XL) provide grants (non-repayable subsidies) up to 200.000€ to SMEs for the development and realisation of those offering a service or contribution involving the CI (Creative Industries) which is marked by a high degree of innovation. By doing so, aws impulse aims to facilitate innovations by reducing the financial risk accompanying their development.
The Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (aws) [Austrian Economic Development Service, a national development and financing bank] fosters the innovative capacity of the Austrian economy. With its support programme aws impulse backs innovative projects focusing on the CI. aws impulse is financed by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs.
With new organisational forms, early anticipation of consumer needs and social change, and above-average growth figures, the creative economy stands for innovative strength, increased flexibility and location development. Therefore aws impulse strengthens the creative industries with need-oriented financial aid (aws impulse XS, aws impulse XL), educational and advanced training opportunities to increase entrepreneurial competences, and activities to raise the level of public awareness and understanding of the impact of the innovative achievements of the CI.
The yearly budget for aws impulse dedicated to project funding is around 4.3 million Euro, furthermore 1.2 million Euro are available for training and awareness raising measures and to cover the administrative costs of the programme. About 3 FTE are working for the program.
Evidence of success
Over a period of 14 years since the aws impulse was established, implemented and was operational, it registered a number of more than 2.500 applications, out of which over 600 were successfully implemented in projects. In overall, 54 € million were dedicated to this programme and the increasing number of applications each year clearly demonstrates not only the success of the programme, but also how deeply anchored it became in the Austrian national support policies for the creative economy.
After more than 10 years of the program running, aws is currently evaluating it. Amongst other things the selection-process, which includes quite an extensive external jury-session, might be changed. It is necessary to adapt programs after a while in order to keep meeting the changing demands.
Potential for learning or transfer
As diverse as the creative sector is, the problems it is confronted with are just as diverse: in addition to problems of financing, issues like lack of networking, weaknesses in translating ideas into economic activities, and insufficient legal and business knowledge play a big role. For that reason, aws impulse offers a palette that covers the areas of financial support, basic and advanced training, service and consulting, as well as networking.
Since the aws impulse was initiated and fully supported by the Austrian national government, showing the understanding of the importance of the CI as an innovation driver as well as long-term commitment towards its support, this instrument can be replicated of course to other regions and countries, where the public authorities share the same vision.
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