aws IÖB Toolbox

Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQs are intended to help you with questions before and during the application process. They aim to provide you with a basic overview without claiming to be complete. The FAQs are being updated for you on an ongoing basis. Only the “aws IÖB Toolbox guideline specifications” (“guideline specifications”) and the “aws funding guideline for funds from the National Foundation for Research, Technology and Development” (“aws guideline”) are legally binding.

 

1. What is the aws IÖB Toolbox?

The aws IÖB Toolbox is a public funding scheme that enables Austrian public contracting authorities to plan and implement IÖB challenges (market exploration with open innovation) and innovative procurements. Public contracting authorities are thus supported in implementing innovative procurement projects.

Funding is rolled out in two modules:

  1. With the module “IÖB Prepare”, the “aws IÖB Toolbox” already begins with market research. This module is first and foremost aimed at public contracting authorities who are faced with a challenge but have not yet been able to identify a suitable solution for it.
  2. “IÖB-Transfer” offers the possibility of directly funding the procurement of innovative products or services.

 

2. What does innovative public procurement mean?

Innovation is – within the meaning of public procurement law – the realisation of new or significantly improved goods, services or procedures, in particular production, construction or design procedures, new marketing procedures concerning business practice, work place procedures or external relations.

We apply this standard when procuring public administration. Innovation is not merely black and white, however: there are of course different steps to innovation development – which is what makes it so exciting!

Read more on the innovation development steps: The four IÖB levels.

To make it easier to assess the degree of innovations, please refer to the jury’s criteria for evaluation under item 22.

 

3. What is an IÖB challenge?

The IÖB challenge is an online instrument with which a public contracting authority posts an issue on the IÖB innovation platform. With this challenge, companies are invited to submit their innovative ideas and propose creative solutions online. The IÖB challenge supports the public contracting authority in market research and methodically follows the open innovation approach.

“Open innovation” means that the innovation process is opened up to the public beyond company borders as it is conventionally closed off to the outside.

Publishing a challenge

Challenges that are carried out as part of “IÖB Prepare” funding must be published on the IÖB innovation platform www.ioeb-innovationsplattform.at. You can take a look at current and past challenges here.

 

4. When can a project be submitted?

Projects for the aws IÖB Toolbox can only be entered within the application period. Applications for this funding can be submitted starting 12 April 2019 until 30 November 2020, by 12 p.m. The application must be submitted via the aws Funding Manager.

 

5. Where can an application for funding be submitted?

Applications for the aws IÖB Toolbox can only be submitted on the online platform “aws Funding Manager”: Application form IÖB Toolbox. You cannot submit the application as a hard copy, by e-mail or via the IÖB service centre.

 

6.Who can submit an application for funding?

 

The aws IÖB Toolbox is intended for innovative public procurers in Austria. (Exceptions are federal ministries and downstream federal agencies)

Public contracting authorities from the following sectors are eligible to submit proposals:

  • Federal states
  • Outsourced organisations and federal/state companies
  • Municipalities and cities
  • Sector contracting entities

 

7. Must a company be entered in the commercial register in order to submit the application for funding?

No, it does not have to be a registered company. You can submit an application if you have a registered company (all legal forms are permitted) or an unregistered company, and as a public body or as an association.

 

8. What documents are required?

You are required to fill out and send the completed application in the aws Funding Manager and include the following annexes to the application:

Please make absolutely sure that you upload all documents in the aws Funding Manager. It is possible to submit documents after the application has been sent. In this case, select the option “will be submitted at a later date” in the aws Funding Manager.

aws will only be able to formally review the application after all documents have been submitted. If any information is missing, you will receive a notification (“request to furnish documents”) from aws.

Incomplete applications (i.e. despite a request by aws to furnish documents and a reminder that obligatory documents are missing) or applications completed outside the submission deadline cannot be considered and will be formally rejected.

 

9. Does the submission form “Project description” have to be used?

Yes. In order to evaluate projects, a minimal standard basic grid is required. That includes having comparable documents for all submitted projects. Therefore, we can only process your application for funding if you have used the “Project description” template in your submission pertaining to the module.

If you wish to submit additional information (such as a presentation, a detailed TCO calculation, or sketches of the planned project), use the aws Funding Manager to informally submit it.

 

10. Can the two modules be combined?

Yes! Funding from the aws IÖB Toolbox for the Prepare module does not exclude a renewed submission for the Transfer module. The two grants can therefore also be combined. However, an application for funding can only extend to one module at a time. 

 

11. Can innovative products and services that are not based on technological innovations be funded?

Yes. A technological reference is not required. IÖB defines innovation very broadly. Innovation is – within the meaning of public procurement law – the realisation of new or significantly improved goods, services or procedures, in particular production, construction or design procedures, new marketing procedures concerning business practice, work place procedures or external relations.

 

12. Can the project be carried out in cooperation with other public contracting authorities?

The goals of the aws IÖB Toolbox include promoting innovations that can be used by more than one public contracting authority. A cooperation is therefore not only possible but wanted. However, only one public contracting authority at a time may apply for funding. Submitting an application as a consortium is not permissible.

 

13. Can the aws IÖB Toolbox be combined with other funding?

Fundings can be combined in principle. The respective EU state aid ceilings must be observed.

Multiple grants for the same project content are excluded. This means, for example, that your project cannot be funded simultaneously by the aws IÖB Toolbox and the Environmental Aid Act (Umweltförderungsgesetz).

The aws IÖB Toolbox is subject to the de minimis provisions of EU competition law (if the recipient has economic activity). This means that within the last three fiscal years, you can have received funds of up to the applicable de minimis ceiling at the most (currently a maximum of EUR 200,000.00). This threshold applies to all (cumulative) de minimis fundings granted to the company, regardless of which institution they were granted by. A detailed description of the de minimis rules can be found in the de minimis leaflet.

If you are engaged in a non-economic activity, the funding the aws IÖB Toolbox provides is not subject to EU state aid law.

 

14. What is the maximum funding amount?

Funding for the Transfer module is limited to EUR 100,000.00. Funding comes in the form of a non-repayable grant with a maximum public funding rate of 50%.

Funding for the Prepare module is limited to EUR 15,000.00. Funding comes in the form of a non-repayable grant with a maximum public funding rate of 100%.

The application for funding must include for both modules a description of how the entire project is financed.

 

15. What is the maximum duration of a project?

The maximum duration of a project is 12 months and can be extended by no more than six months in well-founded cases upon first applying to aws in writing.

 

16. Which costs are funded?

Eligible costs are all expenses or expenditures attributable to the project in accordance with the funding agreement that are incurred directly, actually and in addition (to the usual operating expenditures) for the funded project. The proof must therefore be furnished by presenting the actual costs, which must be recorded completely and comprehensibly. Funding is granted upon approval, in particular for:

Prepare module:

  • Costs for bringing in consulting services from external service providers
  • Sales tax: provided that it is verifiably, actually and ultimately borne by the grant recipient, and there is therefore no right to deduct input tax

Transfer module:

  • Costs for purchases used in regular operation or for the initial testing of innovative solutions
  • Costs for purchasing products and/or services
  • Sales tax: provided that it is verifiably, actually and ultimately borne by the grant recipient, and there is therefore no right to deduct input tax

 

17. What is not funded?

As a general rule, costs that are not directly related to the funded project are not eligible for funding. The regulations for this are listed in the aws guideline and in the guideline specifications.

The following, among others, are excluded from funding:

  • Costs that were incurred prior to submitting the application for funding
  • Personnel costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Overhead expenses
  • Grant recipients’ own contributions
  • Costs resulting from invoices for small amounts, i.e. below EUR 150.00 (net) 
  • Costs for public relations, awareness building, marketing and similar measures
  • Costs that are not directly related to the funded project
  • Costs for ongoing and non-specific consulting services
  • Costs that are not considered eligible costs according to provisions of EU competition law
  • Costs that have not been approved

 

18. Are project costs limited by upper and lower thresholds?

Yes. The minimum project size for the Prepare module is EUR 5,000 and the lower limit for the Transfer module is EUR 25,000.

The maximum project costs are EUR 5 million. This regulation can be found in the aws guideline.

 

19. How does the selection of elegible projects work?

Funded projects are selected in a two-stage process.

  • Formal review: In an initial selection, projects are selected by aws that meet the formal criteria. Positively evaluated projects are admitted to the further selection process. Projects that are evaluated negatively will receive a written rejection. The selection process is based on the formal criteria pursuant to the aws IÖB Toolbox guideline specifications.
  • Content evaluation: Formally positive projects are evaluated by a jury of experts on the basis of the submitted documents. Based thereon, the jury will make a recommendation for funding and rank the projects.
  • Funding decision: The final decision for funding is made by aws upon recommendation of the jury.

 

20. What are the formal selection criteria?

The formal criteria are specified in the guideline specifications:

  1. The application form in the aws Funding Manager has been completely filled out.
  2. The template “Project description” has been completely filled out.
  3. The application has been submitted by a public contracting authority in accordance with Section 4 or Sections 167, 168 of the Austrian Federal Procurement Act (Bundesvergabegesetz) 2018.
  4. The application has been submitted by a public contracting authority outside the federal administration.
  5. The submitted project is not carried out within the statutory scope of duties of regional authorities. The planned procurement or the planned project does not concern a sovereign field of activity (no administrative tasks to be performed by administrative decision, no legislation, jurisdiction or enforcement).
  6. Funding of the project is secured, and this is clearly presented in the application.
  7. For an economic activity of the submitter: the funds to be granted in accordance with these guideline specifications together with other de minimis aid, regardless for what purpose they were granted, may not have exceeded a grant equivalent (present value of all de minimis aids) of currently EUR 200,000.00 gross within the last three years. A group of affiliated companies is considered a single company for the purposes of applying the de minimis rule.
  8. The desired product or service must not be retrievable via a framework agreement or framework contract of Bundesbeschaffung GmbH that already exists at the time the application is submitted.
  9. For the IÖB Prepare module, the external consultant must have verifiable experience in dealing with open innovation platforms and implementing open innovation challenges in the context of public procurement or an IÖB certificate from having completed an IÖB service centre training for the IÖB innovation platform www.ioeb-innovationsplattform.at. Training is free of charge.

 

21. What are the content selection criteria?

Projects are evaluated on the basis of an evaluation matrix, which is structured differently for each module.

 

IÖB Prepare

  1. Degree of innovation
    1. Market: How promising is the market situation with regard to the challenge described?
    2. New for the organisation: How often has the submitting institution already procured the desired solution in this format? (The less often you or similar procurers have already procured the product/service in the desired format in the past, the more points you will receive)
    3. What degree of improvement for users can be expected from potential challenge submissions?
  2. Added value
    1. How high is the social added value achieved from working on the challenge?
  3. Increase in efficiency
    1. How likely is it that potential submissions will contribute to long-term savings or increased public sector efficiency?
  4. Transferability
    1. How likely is it that another procurer will be able to carry out a similar innovative procurement project?

 

IÖB Transfer

  1. Degree of innovation
    1. Market: Since when has the product/service been available on the Austrian market? (The shorter the amount of time that the product/service has been available on the market, the more points are awarded).
    2. New for the organisation: How often has the submitting institution already procured the desired solution in this format? (The less often you or similar procurers have already procured the product/service in the desired format in the past, the more points you will receive)
    3. Improvement for the user: What degree of improvement for the user can be expected from the project? (The higher the degree of improvement, the more points you will receive).
      1. An example: With the purchase of your new solution, citizens receive faster and a higher quality of service).
  2. Added value
    1. How high is the social added value achieved from implementing the project?
      1. Examples: The social added value is given if the procurement of the product/service reduces environmental pollution, improves the health of citizens, creates more security for citizens, increases economic growth, creates jobs, etc.
  3. Increase in efficiency
    1. How likely is it that potential submissions will contribute to long-term savings or increased public sector efficiency?
    2. To what extent does the procurement of the product/service increase efficiency? How do you compare the costs and benefits of your procurement? (Present the cost-benefit ratio of your procurement project using LCC (Life Cycle Costs), TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) or other calculation methods).
  4. Transferability
    1. How likely is it that other public organisations, municipalities, cities or federal states will be able to use the solution that is expected to be procured? (More points are awarded if it is an innovative product/service that could potentially be used by more than one public organisation).

 

  1. How is confidentiality regulated?

The submitted projects are evaluated by Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH (aws) and the external jury. In order to guarantee the confidentiality of your applications, we would like to point out that:

  • austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH (aws) as the financing and promotional bank of the Austrian federal government is subject to confidentiality and
  • the external experts are bound to secrecy under a confidentiality agreement.

 

23. What are the next steps after aws has made a funding decision?

If there has been a favourable decision on funding, aws will issue a funding offer. You have three months to accept the offer. With your acceptance, the funding agreement will be deemed validly concluded. If you do not accept the offer, the funding approval will lapse.

In the event of a negative decision on funding, you will receive a letter of rejection. This letter will contain a rationale for why your project was negatively assessed.

 

 

24. How is payment made?

The grant will be paid out in one tranche after the terms and conditions of the funding agreement have been met. Payment will be made after the final account statement and report have been approved and any additional conditions have been met.

If the final project cost statement shows that the actual costs incurred are lower than those approved in the funding agreement, the grant will be reduced accordingly.

 

 

25. What does the statement of accounts look like? Do I have to use templates for the statement of accounts?

At the end of the project, you will submit the statement of accounts and your final report to aws for review. You can submit your documents via the aws Funding Manager or by sending an e-mail to your aws project adviser.

The form “Project cost statement” for settling the costs and the form “Final report” for presenting the content are mandatory. There is a special form for both the Prepare and Transfer modules for doing the final report.

You can download all of the templates from the aws website:

Project cost statement: aws ioeb toolbox Project cost statement

Final report for Prepare: aws ioeb toolbox_Final report for Prepare module

Final report for Transfer: aws ioeb toolbox_Final report for Transfer module

Please enclose the corresponding receipts (invoices and proof of payment) with the project cost statement. We accept all documents in electronic form. 

 

IÖB Transfer

  1. Degree of innovation
    1. Market: Since when has the product/service been available on the Austrian market? (The shorter the amount of time that the product/service has been available on the market, the more points are awarded).
    2. New for the organisation: How often has the submitting institution already procured the desired solution in this format? (The less often you or similar procurers have already procured the product/service in the desired format in the past, the more points you will receive)
    3. Improvement for the user: What degree of improvement for the user can be expected from the project? (The higher the degree of improvement, the more points you will receive).
      1. An example: With the purchase of your new solution, citizens receive faster and a higher quality of service).
  2. Added value
    1. How high is the social added value achieved from implementing the project?
      1. Examples: The social added value is given if the procurement of the product/service reduces environmental pollution, improves the health of citizens, creates more security for citizens, increases economic growth, creates jobs, etc.
  3. Increase in efficiency
    1. How likely is it that potential submissions will contribute to long-term savings or increased public sector efficiency?
    2. To what extent does the procurement of the product/service increase efficiency? How do you compare the costs and benefits of your procurement? (Present the cost-benefit ratio of your procurement project using LCC (Life Cycle Costs), TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) or other calculation methods).
  4. Transferability
    1. How likely is it that other public organisations, municipalities, cities or federal states will be able to use the solution that is expected to be procured? (More points are awarded if it is an innovative product/service that could potentially be used by more than one public organisation).

 

  1. How is confidentiality regulated?

The submitted projects are evaluated by Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH (aws) and the external jury. In order to guarantee the confidentiality of your applications, we would like to point out that:

  • austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH (aws) as the financing and promotional bank of the Austrian federal government is subject to confidentiality and
  • the external experts are bound to secrecy under a confidentiality agreement.

 

  1. What are the next steps after aws has made a funding decision?

If there has been a favourable decision on funding, aws will issue a funding offer. You have three months to accept the offer. With your acceptance, the funding agreement will be deemed validly concluded. If you do not accept the offer, the funding approval will lapse.

In the event of a negative decision on funding, you will receive a letter of rejection. This letter will contain a rationale for why your project was negatively assessed.

 

  1. How is payment made?

The grant will be paid out in one tranche after the terms and conditions of the funding agreement have been met. Payment will be made after the final account statement and report have been approved and any additional conditions have been met.

If the final project cost statement shows that the actual costs incurred are lower than those approved in the funding agreement, the grant will be reduced accordingly.

 

  1. What does the statement of accounts look like? Do I have to use templates for the statement of accounts?

At the end of the project, you will submit the statement of accounts and your final report to aws for review. You can submit your documents via the aws Funding Manager or by sending an e-mail to your aws project adviser.

The form “Project cost statement” for settling the costs and the form “Final report” for presenting the content are mandatory. There is a special form for both the Prepare and Transfer modules for doing the final report.

You can download all of the templates from the aws website:

Project cost statement: aws ioeb toolbox Project cost statement

Final report for Prepare: aws ioeb toolbox_Final report for Prepare module

Final report for Transfer: aws ioeb toolbox_Final report for Transfer module

Please enclose the corresponding receipts (invoices and proof of payment) with the project cost statement. We accept all documents in electronic form.