Spain: An attractive country for investment
Setting up a business in Spain
Investment aid and incentives in Spain
Labor and social security regulations
Intellectual property law
Legal framework and tax implications of e-commerce in Spain
Company and Commercial Law
The Spanish financial system
Accounting and audit issues
- State incentives for training and employment
- State incentives for specific industries
- Incentives for investments in certain regions
- Aid for innovative SMEs
- Preferred financing of the Official Credit Institute (Instituto de Crédito Oficial or ICO)
- Internationalization incentives
- EU aid and incentives
3State incentives for specific industries
3.1. Research, development and technological innovation
A) 2021-2027 Spanish Strategy for Science and Technology and for Innovation
Encouraging innovation, technological improvement and research and development projects continues to be one of the priority objectives of the Spanish public authorities, since this is a determining factor of the increase in a country’s competitiveness and economic and social evolution.
Science, Technology and Innovation Law 14/2011, of June 1, 2011 (the "LCTI") establishes the legal framework for the fostering of scientific and technical research, experimental development and innovation in Spain, founded on a scheme based on the approval of the related Spanish Strategies for Science, Technology and Innovation, which serve as multi-year reference documents for reaching the statutory objectives and as a basis for the preparation of a State Plan through which to instrument in detail the initiatives required to perform such objectives.
In line with the foregoing, at the end of 2020, the Council of Ministers approved, “the Spanish Strategy for Science and Technology and for Innovation” for the 2021-2027 period, whose essential purpose is to promote based on a solid system for generating new knowledge, a productive system that is based on current strengths and is more dynamic and innovative. Overcoming the global crisis caused by COVID-19 and reestablishing a strong national R&D&I system are also urgent actions to which the Strategy attempts to respond. To this end, the following 7 general objectives are established:
- Position science, technology and innovation as key areas for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.
- Contribute to the EU’s political priorities by aligning with its R&D&I programs, providing support to the agents responsible for the Science, Technology and Innovation System (“SECTI”) in order to achieve this objective.
- Prioritize and respond to challenges confronting the national strategic industries through R&D&I, in order to foster the social, economic, industrial and environmental development of the country.
- Generate knowledge and scientific leadership, optimizing the position of research staff and institutions, as well as the quality of their infrastructure and equipment. The aim is also to foster quality and scientific excellence, favoring a systemic effect that reaches and benefits a large number of groups, as well as the application of scientific knowledge to the development of new technologies that can be used by companies and to boost society’s communication capacity and to influence the public and private sector.
- Boost Spain’s ability to attract, recover and retain talent, thereby facilitating professional progress and the mobility of research staff in the public and private sector and their ability to influence decision-making.
- Foster the transfer of knowledge and to forge bidirectional links between science and companies, through the mutual understanding of needs and objectives, particularly in the case of SMEs.
- Promote research and innovation in the Spanish business world, thereby increasing its commitment to R&D&I and broadening the scope of innovative companies to make the business world more competitive.
With the launch of this Strategy, the aim is to duplicate the sum of public and private investments, until reaching the European average in 2027 (from the 1.24% of GDP in investment in R&D&I recorded in 2018, to 2.12% in 2027).
In order to attain the foregoing objectives, and having regard to the characteristics of the environment in which the agents of the SECTI are to pursue their activities, 14 priority areas of cross-cutting action were identified:
- Budgetary: Aimed at increasing the budget devoted to R&D&I during the 2021-2027 period, and at providing incentives for private investment, until reaching, as noted above, the EU average, particularly through direct aid (subsidies), and fostering the establishment of suitable lines to facilitate the use of European funds, as well as complying with State aid regulations.
- Instrumental: With the goal of developing the instruments and bodies tied to the LCTI in order to increase the provision of advice by experts, simplify and make more flexible the instruments available and adapt them to agents’ needs in order to improve the use of resources and strengthen the agents that finance the SECTI.
- Coordination: To supplement in a synchronized manner national and industry policies with other policies at the European, regional and local level.
- Governance: In order to address the development of a governance system and of indicators that facilitate the analysis, monitoring and evaluation of the results as compared to the objectives set.
- Capacities: Aimed at fostering and supporting the generation of scientific and innovative capacities within the public and private SECTI agents in order to boost the aggregation and development of high-level R&D&I centers and promote excellence in scientific and technological infrastructure.
- Itinerary: In order to establish a scientific and technological itinerary for entrance into the R&D&I system that facilitates the promotion and job security of workers and that considers the needs of the country’s research and innovation staff, also at private R&D&I centers and companies.
- Talent: In order to craft mechanisms to attract and develop research, technology and innovation talent in companies, industries and R&D&I centers and facilitate the mobility of this staff in the public and private sector.
- Promotion: In order to enhance business innovation and its dissemination across all industries, particularly in SMEs.
- Multidisciplinary approach: In order to foster inter- and multi-disciplinary approaches, boosting and providing support to the cross-cutting use of essential enabling technologies, disruptive digital technologies or deep technologies that enable business and society to advance.
- Opportunities: Aimed at reinforcing national strategic industries, transforming social challenges into business development opportunities and fostering entrepreneurship and investment in private sector R&D&I, and attracting venture capital for innovative enterprises.
- Transfer: To promote the existence of effective channels for the transfer and exchange of knowledge and cooperation between the public and private sector.
- Innovation: In order to enhance value chains around focused innovation systems.
- Internationalization: In order to step up of the internationalization of the SECTI agents through (i) the promotion of participation in international programs such as Horizon Europe and its joint programming initiatives; (ii) international collaboration with the support of scientific diplomacy; (iii) international cooperation for sustainable development; and (iv) the promotion of and participation in international scientific and technological installations and infrastructure.
- Social: In order to boost Spanish society’s commitment to R&D&I, encouraging scientific awareness and culture, as well as open and inclusive science and innovation.
In order to implement the objectives and key areas indicated, the Strategy is carried out in 2 multiyear phases (2021-2023 and 2024-2027), each of which will have its corresponding Scientific and Technical Research State Plan, as a tool to implement, materialize and finance the actions and priorities established for the period in question:
- The first phase (2021-2023) focuses on guaranteeing the strengths of the system, giving priority to supporting R&D&I in the healthcare area, and to investing in the green and digital transition, with strategic actions in priority industries and large growth-driving projects.
- The second phase (2024-2027) is aimed at making R&D&I one of Spain’s key pillars and shoring up its value as a tool to develop a knowledge-based economy.
For more information please see the website of the Ministry of Science and Innovation.
B) 2021-2023 State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation
The 2021-2023 State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation (“PEICTI”), included in the 2021-2027 Spanish Strategy for Science and Technology and Innovation, focuses its objectives on strengthening R&D&I in the most strategic sectors following the pandemic: health, green and digital transition, as well as fostering the development and consolidation of the scientific career path.
This State Plan has the nature of a strategic plan for the purposes of Subsidies Law 38/2003, of November 17, 2003, and, accordingly, the funds allocated for its implementation must be granted in accordance with the principles of publicity, transparency, competition, objectivity, effectiveness and non-discrimination. Specifically, actions under the PEICTI include subsidies and loans that may be granted through calls for applications under a competitive process or other direct allocation mechanisms, as well as through the aid granted by the Center for Industrial Technological Development (“CDTI”).
The PEICTI is targeted at all agents of the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System, both public and private, who are responsible for (i) conducting R&D&I activities; (ii) disseminating and promoting R&D&I results; and (iii) providing R&D&I services for the progress of the Spanish economy and society as a whole. In this respect, the orders establishing the specifications and calls for applications for the PEICTI determine the beneficiaries to whom the aid is addressed, the participation conditions and eligibility criteria that must be fulfilled, as well as the criteria for evaluating and selecting proposals and the conditions for implementing the aid and monitoring it for scientific-technical and economic purposes.
The funding for actions under the PEICTI comes from Spain’s General State Budgets and may also originate from other financing sources including such European funds as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), other EU financing and co-financing funds, such as Horizon Europe, the European Investment Bank and the funds originating from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, particularly, those included in the Spanish Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (RTRP). Resources originating from other authorities at the local, autonomous community or international level, as well as the equity of the beneficiary institutions and co-financing from other entities, may also be used.
In brief, the key aims of the PEICTI are to: (i) improve the management model, establishing target-based financing; (ii) foster generational replacement, seeking to attract talent by developing a scientific career path; (iii) boost research along strategic lines (top-down); (iv) place a special focus on health and cutting-edge medicine; (v) establish a joint design between the central government and the autonomous community governments of the so-called Supplementary Plans; (vi) give priority to implementing the European Research Area; and (vii) step up incentives for transfers, strengthening the link between research and innovation, to help convert scientific advances into viable and profitable business models.
As regards the structure of the Plan, it comprises 4 State Programs along with 13 State Subprograms, which pursue 13 specific objectives:
|State Programs (SP)||State Subprograms / Specific objectives (SOs)|
|SO to address the priorities of Spain’s environment||Internationalization (SO1)
Territorial Synergies (SO2)
Strategic Actions (SO3)
|SO to foster scientific-technical research and its transfer||Knowledge Creation (SO4)
Knowledge Transfer (SO5)
Institutional Strengthening (SO6)
Scientific-Technical Infrastructure and Equipment (SO7)
|SO to develop, attract and retain talent||Training (SO8)
|SO to catalyze business innovation and leadership||Business R&D&I (SO11)
Innovative Growth (SO12)
Public-Private Partnership (SO13)
It should be noted that the State Subprogram of Strategic Actions (SO3) implements the following 6 strategic actions under the corresponding thematic clusters previously prioritized in the 2021-2027 Spanish Strategy for Science and Technology and Innovation: (i) health, (ii) culture, creativity and inclusive society, (iii) security for society, (iv) digital, industry, space and defense, (v) climate, energy and mobility, and (vi) food, bioeconomy, natural resources and environment.
The Plan also provides for the approval of Annual Action Programs as budget planning instruments that set out the actions to be taken during the year, the planned annual financing and the indicators for monitoring such actions.
The following table included in the Plan contains a breakdown of the ordinary budget envisaged in the 2021-2023 period for the various state programs and subprograms, including the special supplement of funds expected to be obtained from the RTRP:
|BUDGET (€ million)|
|Annual subsidies 2021,|
|Annual loans 2021,|
|SUM OF THE STATE PROGRAMS||2,858|
|STATE PROGRAM TO ADDRESS THE PRIORITIES OF SPAIN’S ENVIRONMENT||787|
|State Subprogram for Internationalization||76||-||187|
|State Subprogram for Territorial Synergies||-||-||200|
|State Subprogram of Strategic Actions (SA1 – SA6)||711|
|SA2: Culture, creativity and inclusive society||17||-||-|
|SA3: Security for society||-||-||-|
|SA4:Digital, industry, space and defense||647|
|SA5: Climate, energy and mobility||-||-||50|
|SA6: Food, bioeconomy, natural resources and environment||45||-||2|
|STATE PROGRAM TO FOSTER SCIENTIFIC-TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND ITS TRANSFER||978||341||1,605|
|State Subprogram for Knowledge Creation||523||35||420|
|State Subprogram for Knowledge Transfer||51||300||450|
|State subprogram for Institutional Strengthening||65||6||477|
|State Subprogram for Scientific-Technical Infrastructure and Equipmentfico-Técnico||339||-||258|
|STATE PROGRAM TO DEVELOP, ATTRACT AND RETAIN TALENT||436||-||378|
|State Subprogram for Training||234||-||13|
|State Subprogram for Hiring||168||-||365|
|State Subprogram for Mobility||34||-||-|
|STATE PROGRAM TO CATALYZE BUSINESS INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP||657||671||946|
|State Subprogram for Business R&D&I||138||415||180|
|State Subprogram for Innovative Growth||54||256||60|
|State Subprogram for Public-Private Partnership||465||-||706|
**RTRP. 2021-2023 Spanish Economy Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.
*** Actions known as “SA in Health” in the previous PEICTIs, in the 2021-2023 PEICTI have been included in the STATE PROGRAM TO FOSTER SCIENTIFIC-TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND ITS TRANSFER and the STATE PROGRAM TO DEVELOP, ATTRACT AND RETAIN TALENT.
C) Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI)
The CDTI (state-owned business entity under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Innovation) promotes the technological innovation and development of enterprises, its main objective being to contribute to the improvement of the technological level of enterprises through the pursuit of the following activities:
- Technical/economic evaluation and financing of R&D&I projects developed by enterprises.
- Management and promotion of Spanish participation in international technological cooperation programs.
- Promotion of the international transfer of business technology and support services for technological innovation.
- Support for the creation and consolidation of technologically based enterprises.
Notwithstanding the more detailed presentation found on the CDTI website, the lines available to the CDTI for the financing of R&D&I projects include most notably the following:
1) R&D Projects:
This line has the purpose of financing applied business projects linked to the creation and significant improvement of a productive process, product or services, including both industrial research activities and experimental development.
6 categories of projects are potentially for financing under this line:
- Individual R&D projects, presented by a single enterprise.
- National Cooperation R&D Projects submitted by business groupings (EIGs or consortiums), made up of a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 autonomous companies.
- CIEN (National Business Research Consortiums) projects of significant scope and aimed at conducting planned research in future strategic areas with a potential international impact (the main financing elements of which are detailed below in a separate section).
- International Technological Cooperation Projects presented by Spanish enterprises participating in international technological cooperation programs managed by the CDTI (multilateral, bilateral programs, international programs with certification and unilateral monitoring by this body).
- European Technological Cooperation R&D Projects, related to the boosting of the technological capacity of Spanish companies in order to participate in: (i) Important Projects of Common European Interest; (ii) Joint Technology Initiatives projects, and (iii) Projects deriving from ERANETS (European networks of public agencies dedicated to the financing of R&D&I at national/regional level).
- International Technological Training R&D Projects, related to the boosting of the technological capacity of Spanish companies in order to participate in bidding processes for projects and programs managed by international organizations in which Spain is represented by the CDTI and with which the CDTI has cooperation agreements (major international scientific-technological facilities and international space programs).
- R&D projects for the development of dual technologies, related to the boosting of the technological capacity of Spanish companies in order to bid in Defense and Security matters.
The minimum eligible budget for these projects of the participating companies is €175,000 and €5,000,000 in the specific case of CIEN Projects, the duration required being between 12 and 36 months for all individual projects and between 12 and 48 months for national cooperation projects, and 36 and 48 months for CIEN Projects.
The instruments for financing the projects included in this line consist of partially repayable loans (only a part of the aid granted must be repaid to the CDTI), for up to a maximum of 85% of the total budget of the approved project (the company must finance at least 15% of the budget for the project with its own funds). The non-repayable tranche is between 20% and 33% of the loan.
In these projects, the costs eligible for subsidies will be, among others, personnel costs, instrument and material costs, contractual research costs, technical knowledge and patents or certain costs deriving from consulting and equivalent services aimed exclusively at research activities, in addition to supplementary general expenses incurred directly on the research project and audit costs.The costs of the auditor’s report and of the report assessing compliance with the DNSH (Do No Significant Harm) principle are also eligible.
Regarding the advances of the aid that can be obtained, the CDTI offers a 35% advance of the aid granted, up to a limit of €250,000, without requiring additional guarantees. The loan is repayable within a period of 10 to 15 years, including a grace period of 2 to 3 years.
2) Direct Innovation Line
This financing instrument, directly managed by the CDTI and co-financed with Structural Funds through the Research, Development and Innovation Operating Program, under the “de minimis” rules, is aimed at enterprises which carry out technological innovation projects whose objectives cover one or more of the following cases: (i) active incorporation and adaptation of emerging technologies entailing an innovation at the enterprise, as well as processes aimed at improving technologies and adapting them to new markets; (ii) the application of the industrial design and engineering of the product and process for the improvement thereof; or (iii) application of a new or significantly improved production or supply method (including relevant changes in the area of techniques, equipment and/or software).
Projects cannot last less than 6 months or more than 24 months and the minimum eligible budget will be €175,000. The amount of the financing will be 75% of the eligible budget (CDTI funds), which can be increased to 85% if co-financed by ERDF funds.
Investments eligible for financing will include the acquisition of new fixed assets which imply a major technological advance for the company carrying out the project, personnel costs, material and consumables, external collaborations, overhead costs, audit costs and costs incurred in certifying compliance with the DNSH principle.
It will be possible to opt for an advance of 35% of the aid granted (up to €400,000) without additional guarantees, or of up to 75% by providing guarantees in respect of the difference which the CDTI regards as being adequate.
3) Science and Innovation Missions
This program seeks to provide support to pre-competitive collaborative research, led by enterprises, in order to: (i) conduct significant research that proposes solutions to Spanish society’s cross-cutting and strategic challenges; (ii) enhance the knowledge and technology base on which Spanish enterprises rely to compete; and (iii) foster public-private partnerships.
The aim of the program is to contribute to the development of the following missions: (i) to strengthen technical capacities for safe and sustainable energy independence (fusion, hydrogen and renewable energy sources); (ii) to boost Spanish industry in the 21st century industrial revolution; (iii) to promote a more sustainable agricultural sector adapted to the new conditions associated with climate change thanks to significant use of advanced biotech tools; (iv) to develop technologies applicable in the shipping sector that improve its competitiveness in the 21st century; (v) to promote the replacement and recovery of strategic mineral and material resources for the Green Transition, and (vi) to develop and promote an integrated photonics ecosystem in Spain.
Aid granted under this program takes the form of subsidies targeted at large enterprises formed by between 3 and 8 shareholders, of which at least one must be an SME, and headed by a Large Enterprise (“Large Enterprises Mission”), and at SMEs formed by between 3 and 6 shareholders, all of which are SMEs, and headed by a Medium-Sized Enterprise (“SMEs Mission”).
In the 2022 call for aid applications, which was already included among the actions of the National Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan approved at that time, the minimum eligible budgets were between €4,000,000 and €15,000,000 (Large Enterprises Mission) and between €1,500,000 and €3,000,000 (SMEs Mission), with a minimum budget per participant of €170,000, without any participant being responsible for more than 60% of the project’s budget. Industrial research must represent at least 60% of the eligible budget of the Large Enterprises Mission and 35% in the case of the SMEs Mission. Also, at least 20% (Large Enterprises Mission) and 15% (SMEs Mission) of the budget must be outsourced to knowledge-generating centers.
The amount of the subsidies in the 2022 call for aid applications could attain the following maximum limits of the eligible budget, depending on the size of the applicant enterprise: 65% Large Enterprise, 75% Medium-sized Enterprise and 80% Small Enterprise.
Eligible expenses included staff costs, costs of instrumentation and materials able to be inventoried, costs of contractual research, technical know-how and patents acquired at market prices, overhead expenses and additional operating expenses incurred directly on the project, as well as the costs relating to the auditor’s report.
4) INNODEMANDA Program
INNODEMANDA Program is a financing instrument to support the technological offer in innovative public procurement processes convened by the authorities. This program finances an enterprise’s innovation costs required in a particular public procurement process, in such a way that the contracting body has more competitive offers, fostering a greater use of innovative products and services by the Administration.
The operation of this program requires a synchronization between the scheduled time of a particular procurement and the time of application, analysis and resolution of the R&D by the CDTI required for participation in the tender.
To this end, it is necessary the formalization of an Adhesion Protocol between the CDTI and the contracting bodies, specifying, among others, the most significant milestones established in the invitation to tender, as well as the implementation deadlines, conditions and legislation applicable to the financing offered by the CDTI for R&D activities.
5) NEOTEC Initiative
The aid under the NEOTEC Initiative finances the creation tech-based companies oriented towards growth, contributing to entrepreneurship and speeding up the transfer of knowledge from public research bodies and universities.
The aid can be used for business projects in any technological and/or industrial area. The 2023 call for aid applications has been financed with funds from the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
The aid takes the form of subsidies, and beneficiaries must be innovative small companies that have been in existence for 3 years at the most and have share capital totaling at least €20,000.
The maximum budget of the 2023 call for aid applications has been €40,000,000, based on subsidies of up to 85% of the budget of the action and subject to a maximum subsidy of €325,000 per beneficiary, and the minimum budget eligible for financing has been €175,000 per project. In addition, eligible expenses have included, among others, investments in equipment, expenses relating to staff, materials, external collaborations/advisory services, promotion and dissemination expenses and training expenses.
6) CIEN Strategic Projects
The Strategic Program of Consorcios de Investigación Empresarial Nacional (CIEN) (National Business Research Consortiums) finances, as noted above, major industrial research and experimental development projects, carried out by business groupings on the basis of effective cooperation and targeted at the performance of planned research in tomorrow’s strategic areas with potential international projection. Each consortium must be made up of a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 8 companies. At least 2 must be autonomous companies and at least 1 must have SME status.
It also pursues the promotion of public-private cooperation in the area of R&D and, accordingly, requires the appropriate outsourcing of activities (representing at least 15% of the total budget) to research bodies (of which at least 1 must be public). Industrial research activities must exceed 33% of the total budget.
Since 2019, applications for CIEN projects have been able to be submitted on an ongoing basis, for an entire year.
The aid takes the form of partially repayable loans (with a fixed interest rate of 1-year Euribor) for up to 85% of the approved budget (the company must finance 15% of the project budget with equity), with a maturity period of between 10 and 15 years and a grace period of between 2 and 3 years. The loan includes a non-repayable tranche of between 20% and 33% of the aid, calculated based on a maximum of 75% of the coverage of the loan.
The minimum budget which may be applied for is €5,000,000, and no company can exceed more than 85% of the approved budget. The expected duration of the project must be between 36 and 48 months. Lastly, beneficiaries may obtain advances equal to 35% of the aid, subject to a limit of €250,000, without having to provide any additional guarantees.
7) INNVIERTE Program
This program seeks to promote business innovation through support to venture capital investments in Spanish technologically based or innovative enterprises.
In 2019, as part of this program, the CDTI started up a co-investment initiative open to investors regulated by the CNMV, such as venture capital companies and investment companies, also including the possibility of supporting professional investors, such as corporate investors.
This initiative, in which INNVIERTE accompanies professional private investors in periods of investment, delegating the management of investees to them, is instrumented in 2 phases: (i) official approval of professional private investors specializing in technology, through the execution of a co-investment agreement between them and INNVIERTE; and (ii) joint investment in technologically based companies that are in line with INNVIERTE’s investment strategy, presented by the approved co-investors pursuant to the co-investment agreement.
In 2022 Innvierte launched a new venture capital facility for investment in strategic companies. The aim of this initiative is to support the growth and consolidation of Spanish technological and innovative companies that have a high potential for economic growth and are strategic for Spain.
The following, among others, are considered strategic technologies: critical and dual use technologies, technologies which are key to leadership and industrial training, and technologies developed under programs and projects of particular interest to Spain, including telecommunications, artificial intelligence, robotics, semiconductors, cybersecurity, aerospace technologies, defense technologies, quantum and nuclear energy storage technologies, nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, advanced materials and advanced manufacturing systems.
The new facility seeks the industrial consolidation of technological capacities that have been developed and offer high potential for production activities. To this end, it invests until it acquires a less than 30% stake in the company’s capital, so that there is a majority of private capital, but with the possibility of leveraging up to 49% of the capital increase subscribed. Investment opportunities can come from the companies themselves, from private investors or from CDTI Innovación, through Innvierte, as part of its tracking of technology-based companies.
8) Direct Expansion Line (LIC A)
This program is aimed at boosting innovation in certain Spanish regions, improving the capacities of companies that propose investment plans that help them to grow. Specifically, the program designs aid for initial investments in favor of a new economic activity, with a view to driving the growth of innovative companies.
Beneficiaries must undertake an investment project in one of the regions assisted by the program.
The minimum and maximum eligible budgets within this line of aid, with a call for applications that is ongoing throughout the year, must be between €175,000 and €30,000,000 and have a duration of 6 to 24 months. The following can be financed through the program: projects belonging to all of the productive activities that qualify for aid, except for those excluded by the current legislation (steel, coal, naval construction, synthetic fibers, fisheries, agriculture, etc. industries). In addition, investments must be maintained in the beneficiary area for at least 5 years in the case of large companies and 3 in the case of SMEs.
The project financing instruments envisaged in this line are partially repayable loans, subject to the maximum amount of 75% of the total budget of the approved project (the company must finance at least 25% of the project budget with equity or external financing free of any type of public aid). The repayable tranche of the loan will be 10% (in the case of funds from the CDTI) or between 15% and 25% (in the case of funds from ERDF), calculated based on a maximum of 75% of the approved budget. A fixed interest rate equal to one-year Euribor + 1% will apply to these loans and they will be repaid within a 9-year term, with a one-year grace period from the conclusion of the project.
In these projects, the acquisition of new fixed assets entailing an innovation and improvement in capacities at the company that carries out the project, the costs of investing in tangible assets (property, plant and equipment) and intangible assets (patents, licenses, technical knowledge or other intellectual property rights) will be considered eligible expenses, among others. In the case of large companies, the costs of intangible assets can only be financed up to the limit of 50% of the total of the project’s eligible investment costs for the initial investment.
9) EIB Financing
The European Investment Bank (EIB) granted Spain a loan to serve as support for investment projects carried out by SMEs and mid-and small-cap companies with less than 3,000 workers.
The EIB financing is to be used for loans granted by the CDTI to R&D projects with a minimum term of 2 years. Projects of small size and investments with a projected maximum cost of €25,000,000 can be financed, although the EIB’s contribution cannot exceed €12,500,000.
Potentially eligible are loans requested by companies established in an EU Member State and which are (i) independent SMEs with less than 250 workers prior to the investment; or (ii) independent mid-cap companies with less than 3,000 workers prior to the investment.
Nearly all economic industries are eligible, save for certain exceptions relating, for example, to weaponry, arms and ammunition production; games of chance, tobacco-related industries, activities whose sole purpose is real estate speculation, etc.
10) "Cervera" Technology Transfer R&D Projects
This financing line is aimed at business research and development projects of an applied nature for the creation or significant improvement of a production process, product or service, which can be shown to have a technological aspect which makes them different from the technologies existing in the market.
The essential characteristic of projects of this type is that they must necessarily be developed by a limited group of technological areas (Cervera priority technologies) and state-level Technological Centers must be contracted to perform certain activities in the project.
The Cervera priority technologies pertain to 10 main areas: (i) advanced materials; (ii) eco-innovation; (iii) energy transition; (iv) intelligent manufacturing; (v) health technologies; (vi) safety and health in the food chain; (vii) deep learning and artificial intelligence; (viii) advanced mobile networks; (ix) intelligent transport, and (x) the protection of data.
State-level Technological Centers must be given a relevant role in the projects, which cannot represent less than 10% of the total budget approved for the project.
This line of aid consists of partially repayable loans, with financial coverage of up to 85% of the approved budget and a repayment period of 10 or 15 years, including a grace period of between 2 and 3 years. The non-repayable tranche accounts for 33% of the aid and advances equal to 35% of the aid may be obtained, up to maximum of €250,000, without additional guarantees being required.The company must fund at least 15% of the project budget with equity.
The minimum project budget is €175,000 and, for individual projects, the duration is between 1 and 3 years.
The items eligible for funding in the case of these projects include staff costs, costs of instrumentation and materials, contractual research costs, technical know-how and patents, certain consulting costs and equivalent services used exclusively for the purposes of the research activity, plus supplementary general costs generated directly by the research project, audit costs, and management and project coordination costs.
11) Technological Program for Sustainable Automotive Industry (“PTAS”)
This program seeks to provide support to strategic collaborative R&D projects, led by enterprises, in technologies applicable in the automotive sector, with the aim of: (i) developing components and platforms for electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen-powered vehicles, (ii) fostering autonomous driving and connected mobility, and (iii) promoting the adaptation of production environments with secure and robust systems for human-machine interaction in a smart manufacturing environment, aimed at manufacturing components and systems for electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
The aid granted under this program consists of subsidies targeted at clusters of enterprises made up of between 3 and 8 partners, of which at least 1 must be an SME and led by 1 large or medium-sized enterprise.
The duration of projects is set at 3 years, starting in 2021. Currently, minimum budgets eligible for funding are between €5,000,000 and 12,000,000, with a minimum eligible budget per enterprise of €175,000. The amount of the subsidies can be up to the following maximum limits of the eligible budget, according to the size of the enterprise: 65% Large Enterprise, 75% Medium-Sized Enterprise and 80% Small Enterprise.
Expenses eligible for subsidies include personnel costs, materials and instruments capable of being inventoried, contractual research costs, technical know-how and patents acquired at market prices, overhead expenses and additional operating expenses arising directly from the project or audit costs.
12) Internationalization of R&D&I
At international level, the CDTI offers support to Spanish enterprises and promotes technological cooperation abroad through various programs aimed at financing cooperation projects and initiatives, including most notably:
- EUROSTARS Program
The aim of this EU Program is to aid the development of transnational market-based projects by SMEs engaging in intensive R&D activities which represent a break with the technical state of the art and a commercial challenge in such a way as to enable these enterprises to take a qualitative leap in their position on the market.
The mechanisms envisaged for materializing the aid designed under this program are fundamentally the following: (i) creating a sustainable European mechanism to support these organizations; (ii) promoting the creation of economic activities based on R&D findings and introducing products, processes and services on the market more rapidly; (iii) promoting technological and business development and the internationalization of such enterprises; and (iv) securing the public funding of those participating in the projects.
The Ministry of Science and Innovation, through the CDTI, is in charge of managing this program.
The ERA – NET scheme consists of a set of European networks of public bodies that provide financing for R&D&I at national level, with the objective of coordinating the research and innovation programs of the European states and regions, and of preparing and carrying out joint calls for aid applications aimed at boosting cross-border research, technological development and innovation projects.
ERA-NET calls for aid applications comprise an international phase and a national phase, each of which has its own eligibility requirements and application procedures, it being essential to comply with all of them in order to obtain the financing (only projects approved in the international phase of the calls can become candidates eligible to receive CDTI financing).
This research and innovation initiative in the Mediterranean area (Partnership on Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area), approved by the European Parliament, seeks to foster a more sustainable regional management of water, agricultural and agro-food chain systems, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 UN agenda.
The consortium eligible in each case must be formed by 3 entities from three different PRIMA countries, of which at least 1 must be established in one of the following European States: Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain, and at least one other in Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, or in Israel, Tunisia or Turkey.
This initiative is broken down into 2 sections: Section 1 (funded by the PRIMA Foundation) and Section 2 (funded by the national financing bodies of the participating countries). The call for applications consists of two stages and a centralized assessment by the PRIMA Foundation. The total estimated budget for Section 1 is €32,850,000 (from the EU) for Section 2 is €36,600,000 (from the Member States).
The 2023 calls for applications have an important new feature: they require consortiums of at least 4 partners (independent legal entities) that meet the following requirements: (i) they must be based in at least 3 different countries; (ii) 2 of them must be in a Mediterranean Partner Country (MPC): Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey; and (iii) at least 1 member state of the EU (and of PRIMA): Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Slovenia.
The Annual Working Plan for 2023 is posted on the European Union’s website.
13) Audiovisual and Video Game R&D Projects
This program is targeted at (i) projects aimed at developing new technologies applicable in the audiovisual and video game fields; and at (ii) projects aimed at developing innovative technologies specific to the video game or audiovisual field for application in other environments. The program forms part of the Plan to Boost the Audiovisual Sector Spain Audiovisual Hub of Europe, the “Digital Spain 2025” Agenda, the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and the State Plan for Scientific, Technical and Innovation Research 2021-2023.
The minimum and maximum eligible budgets within this aid facility, with an ongoing call throughout the year, must be between €175,000 and €2,000,000 and for a multi-year term (start in 2022 and end on December 31, 2023 or 2024). Subcontracted activities may not exceed 50% of the eligible budget.
The project financing instruments envisaged in this facility are subsidies, which will be for a maximum amount of 60% of the budget for experimental development activities.
In these projects, the following, among others, will be considered eligible costs: i) personnel costs; (ii) costs of instruments and inventories; (iii) costs of contractual research, know-how and patents acquired or licensed from external sources on an arm’s length basis, as well as the costs of consulting and equivalent services used exclusively for the project; (iv) costs arising from the auditor's report, up to €1,500 per beneficiary and; (v) overhead and other additional operating expenses.
The CDTI also provides personalized advice to companies and entrepreneurs on the financing instruments that are best suited to their R&D&I-related needs and projects. To access this service, interested companies need to fill out an electronic form and attach to it the documentation on the project being submitted to the CDTI for its assessment (more information at its website).