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The Program

Guidelines for Application – Innovation Window

What is the Innovation Window?

The Innovation Window of the Enterprise Innovation Challenge Fund (EICF) provides non reimbursable grants of up to USD $500,000, to registered private businesses in the Caribbean. The window finances projects that are innovative and risky but if successful could make a significant contribution to economic development across the Caribbean. It provides resources to finance innovative ventures, undertake risks to develop new products, implement new business models, and enter new markets.
For purposes of the fund, Innovative Business Projects (IBPs) are defined as those that are based on the development and/or improvement of products, processes, business models and access to new markets that:

  • Have not been implemented before in the national territory where the project will be implemented;
  • Present commercial opportunities, with the prospect of sustainable profitability and growth;
  • Stimulate creativity and ambition to innovate;
  • Enable the testing of new ideas, and to rapidly abandon them if they do not work; and
  • Improve the capacity to implement and scale up successful innovations.

Applicants are invited to submit a proposal in response to a specific, targeted call at intervals during the year. At the close of each call all applications will be required to compete. The review process from application to grant approval may be less, but can take up to six months.

Who can apply?

Eligible entities are private sector businesses legally established in CARIFORUM countries. A business may partner with another business for purposes of the project and in which case the lead organization (i.e. the firm submitting the proposal and indicated as lead on the PCN) must be legally established in a CARIFORUM country.
All applicants must:

  • Be eligible entities;
  • Accept the terms and conditions and register for consideration under the window;
  • Present all documentation required by the window;
  • Have no enforceable outstanding tax or social benefits obligations;
  • Not be delinquent in the servicing of existing debt instruments;
  • Commit to provide counterpart funding of 50% of the cost of the project (of which up to 50% can be in kind; the quantum in-kind request is considered and approved on a case by case basis) and accept the financial requirements of the program;
  • If selected, indicate need and cooperate in the development of an Innovative Business Plan;
  • If selected, agree to involvement in the program’s visibility campaign/s;
  • Agree to provide all of the information required by the Program for its monitoring activities and for evaluation of results and impact and audits performed by the Program administration or those hired to do so; and
  • Certify that they are not receiving grant financing from another donor agency for the development of the Innovative Business Plan, which is a requirement for consideration under the window.

What type of project can be considered?

The project must:

  • Meet the definition of an Innovative Business Project (IBP), fitting in one or more of the following categories of innovation: product innovation, process innovation, marketing innovation and organizational innovation as measured;
  • Have commercial application and sustainability;
  • Be able to be completed within the timeframe specified in the call parameters;
  • Have the potential to positively impact the livelihood, skills and incomes of employees and suppliers of inputs and services;
  • Be supported by a complete and thorough application form/Project Concept Note including all supporting documentation;

What type of expenditures can be funded?

The following expenditures can be financed by the window:

  • The development of an Innovative Business Plan;
  • Investments in capital goods (up to a maximum of 30% of the grant request), and that is directly related and critical to the implementation of the project, as defined in the Innovative Business Plan.
  • Consultancy services, including market studies, specialized technical assistance and management consulting;
  • Product upgrading, including product packaging and label design, certification in corresponding regulatory agencies, marketing, production of samples for market testing;
  • Strategic investments in inputs and machinery to improve productivity.
  • Intellectual or industrial property protection; and
  • Knowledge management.

THE FOLLOWING MAY NOT BE FINANCED USING FUND RESOURCES:

  • Working capital;
  • Investments in capital goods that are not directly related and critical to the Project;
  • The purchase of real estate or vehicles;
  • Construction of civil projects and facilities except for physical infrastructure, including the expansion or modification of buildings for the installation of equipment, costing more than 30% of the grant request;
  • Debts, dividends or recovery of capital, purchase of stocks, companies’ rights, bonds or other liquid values;
  • Taxes, port taxes, duties or the equivalent, general and administrative expenses; and
  • The purchase of goods for the project in excess of 30% of the grant request.

How are projects evaluated?

The review panels will consider the following criteria in evaluating project proposals and making recommendations to the Executive Committee of the Program:

  • Innovative merit: Refers to the factors of differentiation of the proposed new project or service with respect to what is already available in the destination market. Technological impact will be considered where applicable;
  • Commercial viability: Considers the market, the proposed commercial strategy, projections and economic results over time, growth potential, and risk factors of the business and the project;
  • Coherence in the Formulation: Adequate relationship between objectives, results and activities. Adequate human and financial resources for fulfillment of the objectives;
  • Incidence of the project in environmental aspects;
  • Incidence of the project in matters of social impact such as poverty, employment, income, young people, ethnic minorities and migrants;
  • Incidence of the project in terms of its benefit to women;
  • Appropriateness of the applicant: History, fulfillment of commitments, contacts and networks with the markets, experience and competencies for project execution;

It is important to appreciate that the fund is structured as a competition for grant funding and not every submission can be a winner. Winners will be chosen through a meticulous, rigourous process of review and applicants will be notified of the outcome following each stage. The program,s web site, at www.competecaribbean.org, is the portal for access to the application process, for status updates and general information on the window and the program.

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