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Support for Eco-innovative projects

The European Union's Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) is assisting public and private entities, particularly SMEs, to embark on eco-innovation projects through which they make better use of resources or reduce negative environmental impact of their operations.

Around €35million are available for the funding of projects through the Eco-Innovation initiative this year, with the European Commission funding up to 50% of the project's eligible costs for successful applicants.

By encouraging projects for the first market piloting of products, techniques, services and processes that reduce emissions, use resources efficiently, facilitate recycling and so on, Eco-Innovation represents a key opportunity to overcome sustainability challenges whilst making the economy even stronger and more competitive.

Details about the CIP's Eco-Innovation initiative – for which the yearly Call for Applications is open until September 6, 2012 – were given during an information session organised by Malta Enterprise, which hosts the CIP's National Contact Point for Malta.

Pedro Fernandez Alvarez, the National Contact Point for Malta within Malta Enterprise, said that the Eco-Innovation initiative helps good ideas with a proven track record but which are not fully marketed due to residual risks, overcome barriers to become fully-fledged commercial prospects ready for use by the consumer, or business and industry.

A number of projects which made successful use of the CIP's Eco-Innovation assistance were also showcased, amongst which a printing company which converted paper mill sludge into absorbent material used to clean up oil and chemical spills in harbours, as well as a waste-collection company which is automatically sorting various metals by quality for recycling.

Besides giving details about this year's open Call and highlighting the benefits for innovative Maltese SMEs, Mr Alvarez also explained how to write a good proposal to ensure that applications stand a better chance of being approved and encouraged participants to contact Malta Enterprise for assistance.

Another presentation was delivered during the information session by George Francalanza, Head of Business First, who focused on the assistance and guidance provided by the one-stop-shop for businesses also located at the Malta Enterprise head office in Pietà. These include a wide variety of schemes and incentives which are aimed at supporting enterprises undertaking innovative projects as well as initiatives aimed at improving their impact on the environment.

On his part, the Head of the EU Business Development at Bank of Valletta Mark Scicluna Bartoli spoke about SMEs access to finance when embarking on eco-innovation and other projects. He gave details of other funding assistance available to implement not only eco-innovative but also other projects, such as the JEREMIE MicroCredit scheme administered by BOV through which enterprises may obtain a loan of up to €510,000 at advantageous interest rates.

Further information on the CIP and the Eco-Innovation initiative may be obtained by contacting the CIP National Contact Point within Malta Enterprise on 2542 0000 or info@cipmalta.com, or by visiting www.cipmalta.com