EU funds for start-ups

If you are looking for capital for a growing innovative company, a newly established start-up, or are looking to create an enterprise, the European Union offers a wide range of financial support.

In the EU programming for 2021-2027, there are a number of EU funding instruments that enable the development of start-ups or existing businesses, such as:

  • non-repayable EU subsidies
  • capital contributions and loans
  • credit guarantees and venture capital
  • loans


Selected EU funding:


1. SMART path

The SMART Path is a competition that is part of the European Funds for a Modern Economy (FENG) program. This path promotes, among others, research and development projects (more about R&D in the article), which most often involve the development of cutting-edge technologies.

Co-financing rate: between 45% and 80% of eligible expenditure.

Co-financing pool: approx. 5.6 billion PLN

Who can benefit from co-financing?

- micro (including newly established), small and medium-sized enterprises 
- large enterprises 
- consortia of enterprises
- individual enterprises other than SMEs
- consortia with NGOs and organisations


- 04.2024 - 05.2024 (consortia of SMEs)
- 06.2024 - 10.2024 (individual SMEs)
- 06.2024 - 10.2024 (single SME dedicated call for accessibility projects)

2. Launchpads for new ideas:

This programme operates in Eastern Poland, i.e. for new start-ups based in the provinces of Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Świętokrzyskie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie and Mazowieckie without Warsaw and its surrounding counties.

Value of funding and description of the latest project:

Component I Incubation - development of a new business idea

A start-up must apply to one of the incubation centres that carries out an incubation programme accredited by the Polish Entrepreneurship Agency. In November 2023, the accredited incubation centres were selected and in January-March 2024 each of them should announce its incubation programme.

At this point, one incubation programme has been announced: Unicorn Hub's Startup Platform, which plans to start calling for ideas in January 2024.

Component II - Supporting startup business development:

Component II a

Upon completion of incubation in the Startup Platform (Component I), the most innovative and best business-promoting startups with an MVP and a validated business model have the opportunity to receive financial support to further develop their business and enter the market with their product/service and first sales. 


Funding will be provided for expenses intended to develop the startup's business activities, in particular: 
- salaries of persons directly involved in the implementation of the supported project; 
- purchase of services (e.g. IT, technical, advisory services) related to the development of the business model; 
- costs of investment in tangible and intangible assets (purchase of fixed assets, raw materials and materials, patents, licenses, know-how);
- costs of marketing activities, including promotion and information activities, serving market expansion, including international expansion (e.g. participation in fairs).

Maximum support intensity in Component II a: 85% of eligible costs.

Maximum value of project co-financing in Component II a: PLN 600,000.


- Startups (capital companies) that have successfully completed the incubation programme of a new business idea in the Startup Platform.
- Also applicable to startups that have completed incubation in POPW 2014-2020 (earlier programme) and have an Incubation Report valid as of the date of submission of the grant application in accordance with the project selection regulations for the given call.

Component II b 

Upon completion of Component II a, ventures with potential in key areas for the macro-region, requiring the commitment of significant resources and a longer implementation period (in particular due to certification, registration/accreditation requirements, the scale of investment, etc.) will be able to obtain additional support for the development of their business established under the Startup Platforms programme.


Funding will be provided for expenses intended for the development of the startup's business, in particular: 
- salaries of persons directly involved in the implementation of the supported project, 
- purchase of services (e.g. IT, technical, advisory services),
- costs of investment in tangible and intangible assets (purchase of fixed assets, raw materials and materials, patents, licenses, know-how), 
- costs of marketing activities, including promotion and information activities, serving market expansion, including international expansion (e.g. participation in fairs).

Maximum support intensity in Component II b: 85% of eligible costs.

The maximum amount of project co-financing in Component II b: PLN 3,000,000.

Beneficiaries: Startups that have completed Component II a.

Maximum % EU co-financing of the project: 85%

Who can benefit from the funding?: Start-ups in Eastern Poland (Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Świętokrzyskie, Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, NUTS2 Region: Mazowieckie Regional) 

Deadlines: IIa 06.2024-08.2024, IIa Q4 2024

3rd Accession Programme of NCRD

This is a new programme aimed at supporting new entities, selected from the innovation and R&D (research and development) sector, bringing innovative technological projects to the market and offering new or improved technical, organisational, business, operational solutions and facilitating projects from the innovation and R&D sector planning to commercialise the results of their research, to obtain support in gaining access to know-how and investment capital.

Stages of acceleration and maximum amount of support that can be obtained:

Mentoring: Specialised advisory services of up to PLN 100,000 aimed at commercial development of a product/service, preparation and implementation of a development concept, and preparation of the company to raise capital for further development of the project.

Financial Grant: Non-refundable funding of up to PLN 300k to a company whose project has been shortlisted for acceleration for the purpose of development, adequate to the needs of the project established during mentoring.

Capital Investment: A direct investment by Akces of up to PLN 600k in the company implementing the project. Akces reserves the right to invest only in selected companies from the accelerator programme.

Who can benefit from funding?:

Innovative start-ups from all industries, not older than 5 years from the moment of registration in the National Court Register and natural persons ready to establish a capital company on the basis of the developed project, as well as universities, research institutes, scientific institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences, consortia of scientific units and other entities.

Grant value: The total amount of support for a single entity may not exceed PLN 1 million.

Deadlines: We expect further editions in 2024

4. Start-up support (two types of loans)

4.1. Loan up to approx. PLN 150,000 PLN for starting a business activity

Who can benefit?:

- students in their final year of studies of the first and second degree, uniform master's studies,

- school and university graduates looking for a job, up to 4 years from graduation or obtaining a vocational degree,

- unemployed persons registered at an office, up to retirement age,

- carers of disabled persons - family members caring for a child with a disability certificate or a disabled person, not receiving a nursing benefit or a care allowance.

The interest rate on a business loan:

- the current interest rate is 1.70 percent. or 0.68 percent per year,

- no fees and commissions for granting and servicing the loan,

- loan repayment period of up to 7 years,

- repayment grace period of up to 1 year.

4.2. Loan up to approx. PLN 45,000 PLN (6 times the average salary) for creating a job

Who can benefit?:

- business entities,

- non-public kindergartens and schools,

- nurseries or children's clubs, entities providing rehabilitation services,

- natural persons, legal persons, or organisational units without legal personality residing or having their registered office in the territory of the Republic of Poland, agricultural producers.

Interest rates for a loan for job creation:

- the current interest rate is 1.70 percent. or 0.68 percent per year,

- no fees and commissions for granting and servicing the loan,

- the loan repayment period is up to 3 years.

5. Brand promotion of innovative SMEs

Support for the promotion of product brands of Polish SMEs through the Brand Polish Economy. The instrument is addressed to Polish enterprises having a significant export potential on international markets. Support will be granted to projects of entrepreneurs having a significant export potential on international markets, providing for participation in fairs and conference events in connection to participate in the World Exhibition EXPO 2025 in Japan.

Funding value: PLN 100 million

Maximum level of funding: 50%

Who can benefit?: SMEs

Deadlines: 16.04.2024 – 21.05.2024


6. Polish Bridges of Technology

Support for the promotion and internationalisation of enterprises that have an innovative product, service, or technology in selected foreign markets, using various e-commerce models. Support will be provided to SMEs that have the potential for internationalisation of their activities, for the development of innovative products, services, or technologies, and are interested in acquiring new development opportunities in foreign markets.

The support includes:

- 3-day workshop on the selected market (practical information),
- 40 hours of consultation with an expert to create an expansion strategy,
- product/service/technology expansion strategy on the selected market,
- PLN 120,000 to be spent on the foreign market,
- a place to work and office facilities for 30 days at the Foreign Trade Office of PAIH in the selected country,
- substantive and operational support of PAIH employees who, among other things, will arrange meetings with potential partners/contractors/investors.

Who can benefit?: Innovative enterprises

Funding value: 200 000 zł (de minimis)

Deadlines: The current call has ended, but the next edition will be announced soon.


7. Support for VC

PFR Starter, as one of the 7 programmes operating under the fund-of-funds formula within PFR Ventures, is aimed at funds investing primarily in companies at the earliest stage of development (before their first commercial sale). The programme assumes investments in venture capital funds with an investment ticket of up to PLN 4 million, with a maximum initial investment of PLN 2 million.

Funding value: 512,5 mln EUR


8. Competitions in 16 EU regional programmes

There are also 16 regional EU programmes for each voivodship (with a total subsidy value of approximately PLN 155 billion), in which competitions are held for, among others, newly established start-ups, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. To find the best programme for your company, contact Focus Consulting experts


Co-financing from the Polish budget

In addition to European funds, there are also regional subsidies from the national budget that promote entrepreneurship. Below are the most popular:

One-off funds for starting a business (Poviat Labor Office)

Value: However, not higher than six times the average monthly salary in a given district.

Own contribution: No own contribution.

Financing: Obtaining funding depends on the financial resources available to the District Labor Office.

For whom: Depends on the poviat, but most often a person who is registered at the Poviat Labor Office as an unemployed person, a graduate of the Social Integration Center, or a graduate of the Social Integration Club.

When: Depends on the district.