aws Innovation Protection

Frequently Asked Questions

General questions concerning aws Innovation Protection


  1. Which public funding offering is the right one?

aws Innovation Protection offers companies support in managing their intellectual property. aws offers three public funding offerings, which complement one another in terms of content and build on one another.


Initial consultation (discover.IP)


Strategy development: consulting, strategy coaching and grants (non-repayable) on topics such as

  • Identifying, securing and protecting your intellectual property for maximum commercial benefit,
  • Sale and licensing of own intellectual property rights,
  • Purchase, licensing and use of third-party intellectual property


Strategy implementation: consulting, coaching und grants (non-repayable) on topics such as

  • Strengthening of company resources (personnel, training, etc.)
  • IP analyses
  • Building and implementing a portfolio of intellectual property rights
  • IP Transfer


General questions concerning strategy development


2. What does strategy development offer?

This public funding offering supports small and medium-sized companies in developing an intellectual property (IP) strategy specifically tailored to the company and its business model. The public funding scheme is made up of three modules consisting of consultancy services (by aws experts) and financial grants, which can only be applied for collectively.

  • Module 1 - Potential analysis: thorough analysis of the IP situation, market opportunities and the business model for new technology or innovation.
  • Module 2 - Coaching: company-specific coaching over a period of up to 12 months in a series of consecutive workshops for the development of an IP strategy based on the business model. 
  • Module 3 (Grants): to finance possible implementation costs of the developed IP strategy.

The company should be about to implement an innovative business idea (please refer to questions 7 and 8) and with this innovation project an IP strategy should be developed. The IP strategy should be sustainably anchored in the company's business and innovation strategy and should be applicable to subsequent innovation projects.


3. What can I expect from the potential analysis?

The potential analysis takes place during a detailed consultation (2 to 3 hours) with one or two experts from aws. These experts prepare for this consultation by researching the market environment, patent situation, among other things, and summarise the results of the analysis in a written report that is sent to the company.

As far as content is concerned, an innovation project (technology, product, process, etc.) should be considered with regard to the following aspects:

  • Level of innovation of the project (in comparison to products on the market, published patents, etc.)
  • Potential for safeguarding the innovation through intellectual property rights instruments
  • Market potential of the innovation project

The potential analysis is also part of the selection process for the other funding modules. If a project is not selected by the jury for the further modules, the potential analysis will still provide the company with valuable feedback for the project and its further implementation.

A jury decision is not needed for the potential analysis, but it must always take place before a jury meeting for further modules. Therefore, the consultation can and should take place very soon after the application is submitted.


4. What can I expect from the coaching?

Coaching entails providing a company with intensive support over a period of 6 to 12 months in order to develop a tailored IP strategy over the course of several workshops. Two experts from aws will supervise the coaching project. From the company’s side, the company management (executive management, R&D management, marketing, product management, etc.) should be involved.

In addition to coaching, the aws experts carry out comprehensive analyses of the market environment, competitors (business models, products, patents), technological developments and the like. 

There are no costs involved for the consulting services provided by aws for the company. However, the company must be prepared to devote time resources to the workshops and other tasks.

The ultimate goal of the programme should be to develop an IP strategy which makes it possible to achieve an optimal market impact with the intellectual property of a company (i.e. economic benefits in the form of premium prices, higher market shares, cost advantages, etc.).


5. How much time does a company need to budget for the coaching?

For your orientation: you can expect several half-day or full-day workshops within the 6 to 12 month period. On top of this, there must also be time devoted to preparatory work and the implementation of the results.

Each coaching programme is individually structured according to the needs of the company, so that the amount of time required can vary greatly.


6. Which costs are eligible for grants?

Grants can only be applied for in combination with coaching, in other words, a joint application for coaching and the required grants must be submitted before the project starts. The following are considered eligible costs:

  • Costs incurred in obtaining intellectual property rights, filing or registration of intellectual property rights (such as patents and other property rights), especially in emerging markets and non-European growth markets
  • Costs incurred in enforcing existing intellectual property rights, measures to identify violations of intellectual property rights and to enforce existing intellectual property rights worldwide
  • Costs incurred for external consultancy services to implement the developed IP strategy in case the company does not have the resources or know-how for the implementation (temporary IP management)

The total amount of eligible costs may not exceed a maximum of EUR 200,000. All additional costs incurred shall be borne in full by the grant recipient. The public funding rate is a maximum of 50% of the eligible costs, which means the maximum grant amount is EUR 100,000.


7. Which costs are not funded?

  • Costs resulting from invoices for small amounts, i.e. below EUR 150 (net),
  • Travel expenses,
  • Intellectual property rights that have been in-licensed in a non-exclusive manner or intellectual property rights that are implemented solely by means of licensing,
  • Costs of external consultants in the case of ongoing, routine consultancy or marketing,
  • Court costs and any cost reimbursements to opposing parties in connection with property right infringements,
  • Value added tax


8. What kind of projects receive support?

The prerequisite for funding is the economic implementation of innovative technology or an innovative product or service idea of the applicant company.

The business idea should demonstrate economic potential and the company must have the necessary resources to implement the business idea. In an ideal case, at least one of the following requirements should be fulfilled: a prototype is available, a feasibility study has been conducted, an R&D project is nearing completion, a patent application has been filed or is about to be filed.


9. What kind of projects do not receive support?

  • Innovation projects which only incrementally improve products or services or only incrementally optimise production processes
  • Projects of companies who, at the time of application, had less than two full-time equivalent employees
  • Innovation projects, where the feasibility of the project is not presented in a comprehensible way
  • Projects of companies for which the SME status cannot be verified
  • Projects of companies that have not yet complied with a recovery injunction issued by the European Commission pursuant to Art. 1 par. 4 lit. a of the General Block Exemption Regulation (AGVO)


Questions concerning submission of the application


10. When can a project be submitted?

Applications for initial consultation and strategy implementation can be submitted at any time via the aws Funding Manager. Applications for strategy development are processed through invitations for applications (or simply, “calls”). For deadlines and dates of the respective current invitation for application, please consult the aws website.


11. Who can submit?

Applications for public funding offerings for strategy development and strategy implementation are open to technology-oriented, innovative small and medium-sized companies (SME according to the respective applicable definition under EU competition law) with a business location in Austria (at the latest at the time of fund disbursement).

The following companies are excluded from receiving funding in any case:

  • Companies who had less than two full-time equivalent employees at the time of application,
  • Companies for which the SME status cannot be verified,
  • Companies that have not yet complied with a recovery injunction issued by the European Commission pursuant to Art. 1 par. 4 lit. a of the General Block Exemption Regulation (AGVO).

Initial consultation can also be used by people who are about to set up a technology-oriented company.


12. How does submission of the application work?

Applications for funding must be submitted exclusively via the aws Funding Manager ( The templates made available on the aws website are to be used for this purpose. Any additional documents (e.g. business plan, company presentation, etc.) can be attached to the application.

Questions concerning project selection


13. How does the selection of eligible projects work?

There are only a few requirements for being able to make use of the initial consultation; essentially, the applicant is not allowed to be a large company.

In the case of the public funding offerings strategy development and strategy implementation, further formal and contentual requirements must be met (please see above). An assessment panel (jury) decides on the allocation of grants and the accompanying coaching and consultations.


14. What are the formal selection criteria in the selection of projects by the aws?

The formal requirements are set out in the specific directive or guideline specifications and are in particular:

  1. Was the application sent within the deadline?
  2. Has the SME requirement been met?
  3. Were all attachments to the guarantee application uploaded to the aws Funding Manager and was the given structure adhered to?
  4. Is there any compulsory execution against the applicant?
  5. Is the implementation carried out at an operating site in Austria?
  6. Is the financing of the project plausible?

It is advisable to go through these points, also known as the "checklist", in the aws Funding Manager before submitting your application.


Questions concerning processing


15. As funding recipient, what reporting obligations do I have?

Among others, the following indicators can be used to monitor the achievement of the objectives:

  • What is the relevance of the consulting service for the company's innovation project?
  • Were the coaching expectations fulfilled on the part of aws? (Content and scope of the consultation?)
  • To what extent could and can the suggestions be implemented?
  • Sustainability of the measures implemented in the company
  • Has the implementation had any positive effects within the company? (e.g. new potentials were raised, shortcomings in the business idea were eliminated, a robust business model was implemented in the company, a sustainable IP strategy was implemented, the company's IP was adequately exploited, new products were brought to market, etc.)


16. How are grants disbursed?

After a positive funding decision and fulfilment of any other conditions according to the funding agreement, the payment of grants is possible on an ongoing basis. For settlement purposes, an Excel file stored on the aws Funding Manager is to be used. This cost report must be sent to aws along with the invoice copies and payment receipts.


Other questions


17.  What are the SME criteria?

These are small and medium-sized companies. You can find details here:


18. How long should project-relevant documents be kept?

The obligation to preserve all project-related documents (books and receipts as well as other documents serving to monitor the implementation of the service) is ten years from the end of the year in which the entire subsidy (i.e. the last instalment) is paid.


Appendix and glossary of terms


1. Companies in difficulty (General Block Exemption Regulation (AGVO) Art. 2(18))

“Companies in difficulty”: A company to which at least one of the following circumstances applies:

a) In the case of limited liability companies (with the exception of any SME that has not been in existence for three years and, with regard to risk capital aid, any SME in the seven years following its first commercial sale, which is eligible for risk financing after due diligence by the selected financial intermediary): more than half of the subscribed share capital has been lost due to accumulated losses. This is the case if, after deducting accumulated losses from reserve assets (and all other elements generally considered to be part of the company's equity), there is a negative cumulative amount corresponding to more than half of the subscribed share capital. For the purposes of this provision, the term 'limited liability company' refers particularly to the types of companies listed in Annex I to Directive 2013/34/EU (1) and the term 'share capital' includes, where appropriate, all agios.

b) In the case of companies where at least some members have unlimited liability for the debts of the company (with the exception of any SME that has not been in existence for three years and, with regard to risk capital aid, any SME in the seven years following its first commercial sale, which is eligible for risk financing after due diligence by the selected financial intermediary): more than half of the equity entered in the accounting books has been lost due to accumulated losses. For the purposes of this provision, the term 'companies of which at least some members have unlimited liability for the debts of the company' refers particularly to the types of companies listed in Annex II to Directive 2013/34/EU.

(c) The company is the subject of insolvency proceedings or fulfils the requirements under national law for opening insolvency proceedings at the request of its creditors.

(d) The company has received rescue aid and the loan has not yet been repaid or the guarantee has not yet been terminated or the company has received restructuring aid and is still subject to a restructuring plan.

(e) In the case of a company that is not an SME: for the past two years

1. the company's book debt to equity ratio has been greater than 7.5 and

2. its EBITDA interest coverage ratio has been below 1.0.


2. Sources of legal documents

Thematic RTI guideline: