State Aid information

Oil and Gas Technology Centre Support for Research and Innovation – State Aid

The objective of the scheme is, in terms of Articles 25-29 of the European Union’s General Block Exemption Regulation, to provide:

  • Support for research and development projects;
  • Aid for the construction or upgrade of research infrastructures that perform economic activities;
  • Aid for innovation clusters;
  • Innovation aid for SMEs;
  • and aid for process and organisational innovation.

Aid will be targeted at activities relating to the oil and gas sector.

The scheme reference number is SA.46724 and operates from 1 October 2016 to 31 December 2020.

The legal basis for the scheme is Section 20 of the Local Government in Scotland Act, 2003.

Applications for support must be made through the Oil and Gas Technology Centre.

The Oil and Gas Technology Centre is delivering the projects, and Aberdeenshire Council is the scheme administrator.

General Provisions

The level of aid available will depend on whether the applicant is a Large, Small or Medium Sized Enterprise, as defined by the European Commission. Small and Medium Sized Enterprises are undertakings fulfilling the criteria laid down in Annex 1 to the General Block Exemption Regulation.

Related links:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/legislation/gber_regulation_annex1_en.pdf

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2014.187.01.0001.01.ENG

Undertakings not fulfilling the criteria are Large Enterprises.

Support will only be given where an incentive effect and added value can be demonstrated through a material increase in one or more of the following:

  1. the size or scope of the project/activity due to the aid,
  2. the total amount spent by the beneficiary on the project/activity due to the aid or
  3. the speed of completion of the project/activity, as a result of the aid.

Eligible Costs

1) Research and development projects relating to fundamental research, industrial research, experimental research, feasibility studies:

  1. Personnel costs: researchers, technicians and other supporting staff to the extent employed on the project;
  2. Costs of instruments and equipment to the extent and for the period used for the project. Where such instruments and equipment are not used for their full life for the project, only the depreciation costs corresponding to the life of the project, as calculated on the basis of generally accepted accounting principles are considered as eligible;
  3. Costs for of buildings and land, to the extent and for the duration period used for the project. With regard to buildings, only the depreciation costs corresponding to the life of the project, as calculated on the basis of generally accepted accounting principles are considered as eligible. For land, costs of commercial transfer or actually incurred capital costs are eligible;
  4. Costs of contractual research, knowledge and patents bought or licensed from outside sources at arm's length conditions, as well as costs of consultancy and equivalent services used exclusively for the project;
  5. Additional overheads and other operating expenses, including costs of materials, supplies and similar products, incurred directly as a result of the project;
  6. The costs of feasibility studies.

2) Aid for the construction or upgrade of research infrastructures that perform economic activities:

  1. The investment costs in intangible and tangible assets.

3) Aid for innovation clusters:

  1. The construction or upgrade of innovation clusters. The eligible costs shall be the investment costs in intangible and tangible assets;
  2. The eligible costs of operating aid for innovation clusters for a period not exceeding 10 years shall be the personnel and administrative costs (including overhead costs) relating to:
    1. animation of the cluster to facilitate collaboration, information sharing and the provision or channelling of specialised and customised business support services;
    2. marketing of the cluster to increase participation of new undertakings or organisations and to increase visibility;
  • management of the cluster's facilities; organisation of training programmes, workshops and conferences to support knowledge sharing and networking and transnational cooperation.

4) Innovation aid for SMEs:

  1. Costs for obtaining, validating and defending patents and other intangible assets;
  2. Costs for secondment of highly qualified personnel from a research and knowledge-dissemination organization or a large enterprise, working on research, development and innovation activities in a newly created function within the beneficiary and not replacing other personnel;
  3. Costs for innovation advisory and support services.

5) Aid for process and organisational innovation:

  1. Personnel costs;
  2. Costs of instruments, equipment, buildings and land to the extent and for the period used for the project;
  3. Costs of contractual research, knowledge and patents bought or licensed from outside sources at arm's length conditions;
  4. Additional overheads and other operating costs, including costs of materials, supplies and similar products, incurred directly as a result of the project.

Intervention Rates and Cumulation

The total amount of public aid from all sources awarded to projects/activities must not exceed the limits set out below. De minimis aid cannot be used to ‘top up’ the amount of aid received.

1) Research and development projects:

  1. The aid intensity for each beneficiary shall not exceed:
  2. 100 % of the eligible costs for fundamental research;
  3. 50 % of the eligible costs for industrial research;

iii. 25 % of the eligible costs for experimental development;

  1. 50 % of the eligible costs for feasibility studies.
  2. The aid intensities for industrial research and experimental development may be increased up to a maximum aid intensity of 80 % of the eligible costs as follows:
  3. By 10 percentage points for medium-sized enterprises and by 20 percentage points for small enterprises;
  4. By 15 percentage points if one of the following conditions is fulfilled:
  5. The project involves effective collaboration:
  6. between undertakings among which at least one is an SME, or is carried out in at least two Member States, or in a Member State and in a Contracting Party of the EEA Agreement, and no single undertaking bears more than 70 % of the eligible costs, or
  7. between an undertaking and one or more research and knowledge-dissemination organisations, where the latter bear at least 10 % of the eligible costs and have the right to publish their own research results;
  8. The results of the project are widely disseminated through conferences, publication, open access repositories, or free or open source software.

iii. The aid intensities for feasibility studies may be increased by 10 percentage points for medium-sized enterprises and by 20 percentage points for small enterprises. 

  1. The following financial limits shall apply to aid:
  2. If the project is predominantly fundamental research: EUR 40 million per undertaking, per project; that is the case where more than half of the eligible costs of the project are incurred through activities which fall within the category of fundamental research;
  3. If the project is predominantly industrial research: EUR 20 million per undertaking, per project; that is the case where more than half of the eligible costs of the project are incurred through activities which fall within the category of industrial research or within the categories of industrial research and fundamental research taken together;

iii. If the project is predominantly experimental development: EUR 15 million per undertaking, per project; that is the case where more than half of the eligible costs of the project are incurred through activities which fall within the category of experimental development;

  1. If the project is a Eureka project or is implemented by a Joint Undertaking established on the basis of Article 185 or of Article 187 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, the amounts referred to in points (i) to (iii) are doubled.
  2. If the aid for research and development projects is granted in the form of repayable advances which, in the absence of an accepted methodology to calculate their gross grant equivalent, are expressed as a percentage of the eligible costs and the measure provides that in case of a successful outcome of the project, as defined on the basis of a reasonable and prudent hypothesis, the advances will be repaid with an interest rate at least equal to the discount rate applicable at the time of grant, the amounts referred to in points (i) to (iv) are increased by 50 %;
  3. Aid for feasibility studies in preparation for research activities will be limited to a maximum of EUR 7.5 million per study.

2) Aid for the construction or upgrade of research infrastructures that perform economic activities:

  1. Where a research infrastructure pursues both economic and non-economic activities, the financing, costs and revenues of each type of activity shall be accounted for separately on the basis of consistently applied and objectively justifiable cost accounting principles;
  2. The price charged for the operation or use of the infrastructure shall correspond to a market price;
  3. Access to the infrastructure shall be open to several users and be granted on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis. Undertakings which have financed at least 10 % of the investment costs of the infrastructure may be granted preferential access under more favourable conditions. In order to avoid overcompensation, such access shall be proportional to the undertaking's contribution to the investment costs and these conditions shall be made publicly available;
  4. The aid intensity shall not exceed 50 % of the eligible costs;
  5. Where a research infrastructure receives public funding for both economic and non-economic activities, a monitoring and claw-back mechanism will be put in place in order to ensure that the applicable aid intensity is not exceeded as a result of an increase in the share of economic activities compared to the situation envisaged at the time of awarding the aid;
  6. Investment aid for research infrastructures will be limited to a maximum of EUR 20 million per infrastructure.

3) Aid for innovation clusters:

  1. Aid for innovation clusters shall be granted exclusively to the legal entity operating the innovation cluster (cluster organisation);
  2. Access to the cluster's premises, facilities and activities shall be open to several users and be granted on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis. Undertakings which have financed at least 10 % of the investment costs of the innovation cluster may be granted preferential access under more favourable conditions. In order to avoid overcompensation, such access shall be proportional to the undertaking's contribution to the investment costs and these conditions shall be made publicly available;
  3. The fees charged for using the cluster's facilities and for participating in the cluster's activities shall correspond to the market price or reflect their costs;
  4. The aid intensity of investment aid for innovation clusters shall not exceed 50 % of the eligible costs;
  5. The aid intensity of operating aid shall not exceed 50 % of the total eligible costs during the period over which the aid is granted;
  6. Aid for innovation clusters will be limited to a maximum of EUR 7.5 million per cluster.

4) Innovation aid for SMEs:

  1. The aid intensity shall not exceed 50 % of the eligible costs;
  2. In the particular case of aid for innovation advisory and support services the aid intensity can be increased up to 100 % of the eligible costs provided that the total amount of aid for innovation advisory and support services does not exceed EUR 200 000 per undertaking within any three year period.;
  3. Innovation aid for SMEs will be limited to a maximum of EUR 5 million per undertaking, per project.

5) Aid for process and organisational innovation:

  1. Aid to large undertakings shall only be compatible if they effectively collaborate with SMEs in the aided activity and the collaborating SMEs incur at least 30 % of the total eligible costs;
  2. The aid intensity shall not exceed 15 % of the eligible costs for large undertakings and 50 % of the eligible costs for SMEs;
  3. Aid for process and organisational innovation will be limited to a maximum of EUR 7.5 million per undertaking, per project.