aws Starting a business in rural areas

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the aws Call “Starting a business in rural areas”?

The general goal of the public funding scheme is to support the establishment and development of innovative companies offering economic added value to the rural region.

Innovative crafts, the manufacturing industry and industrial production, innovative services as well as new products and services in the region, which serve to complement regional value chains, are addressed.

Funded projects should result in competitive, economically independent, small companies in rural areas that plan to offer or already offer innovative, competitive products, processes or services.

Additionally, the risk of starting innovative companies in rural areas should be reduced and the number of company start-ups should be increased in the long term..


When can a project be submitted?

Projects for the aws Call can only be entered within the application period of the call. Please refer to the guideline.


What are small companies as defined by the EU definition of an SME?

Maximum number of employees 50, maximum annual turnover EUR 10 million, maximum balance sheet total EUR 10 million.


What is the maximum age limit for a company?

5 years from entry in the commercial register.

Note: Mere changes in the legal structure (also in the case of spin-off companies or mergers) while maintaining the same business activities are not considered "new" companies.

If companies older than 5 years hold a stake of more than 25% in the submitting company, it can no longer be assumed that it is an independent young company within the meaning of the public funding scheme.


Who can submit?

The aws Call is aimed at innovative, committed entrepreneurs in the pre-foundation and start-up phase. Grant applicants may be one or more natural persons of a founding team or a capital company that has already been founded, as long as it is not older than five years (at the time of submitting the application).


Non-listed small companies which have been registered in the commercial register for a maximum of five years and which have not yet distributed profits are eligible for (state) aid.
(according to Article 22 of the General Block Exemption Regulation (AGVO))


What is the amount of funding?

The funding is limited to EUR 50,000.00. Funding is done in the form of non-repayable grants, whereby up to a maximum of 55 % of the project costs can be reimbursed.


How does project selection take place?

Funded projects are selected in a multi-stage process.

The application must already be accompanied by the funding recipient's confirmation of their compatibility with the respective regional concept. This confirmation can be supplied as an informal Word document, but must contain the page and passage of the respective regional concept to which the project relates.

During the first step, aws experts check the formal requirements and the basic fit with the call criteria (thematic focus and contentual requirements).

In a second step, the jury will rank the projects according to the "best of" principle. The final funding decision is made by aws upon recommendation of the jury in accordance with the available funding budget.


Which regional concept applies: that of the company headquarters or that of the production site?

The regional/state concept applies where the (predominant and regionally relevant) value creation of the company takes place.


Is there a contact person for regional concepts?

There is usually a contact given in the downloadable document of the respective regional concept.


What kind of projects are supported by the aws Call?

Projects must meet the following requirements:

(please refer to the guideline)


Can projects that are not based on technical innovations be funded?

A technical connection is necessary.


Is it necessary to introduce a significant technological development in comparison to state-of-the-art technology?

No. However, new technical innovations can open up additional opportunities for the business potential.


Why can planned developments, routine developments or obvious further developments of existing services not be funded?

By definition, "innovation" is not a "routine development", but a new (technological) advance that cannot be directly deduced, not even by experts. It is the call's aspiration to enable something "new", but incremental novelty is sufficient.


What is the OENACE CODE?

OENACE 2008 is a hierarchically structured statistical classification that covers all economic activities. Please see below for more details

Please have a look here to determine the OENACE code that fits your project.


Do different criteria apply to projects of existing companies and to start-up projects?

No. Projects are evaluated in the same way, using the same criteria.


Is it possible to collaborate with other partners in the development of the project?

In principle, collaborations are possible. However, the essential project know-how and the majority control must remain with the submitting team.


Is it possible to combine the aws Call with aws PreSeed?

No. It is not possible to carry out this combination either in parallel or consecutively.


Is it possible to combine the aws Call with aws Seed Financing?

This is only possible in exceptional cases provided that all formal criteria are met within the framework of the Seed Financing guideline specifications. The required outstanding level of technological innovation (in contrast to GAL) must be demonstrated, in comparison with international standards.


Can aws impulse sponsored companies take part in the aws Call?

Yes. GAL is NOT subject to de minimis.


Can more than just the depreciation of investments be funded?

Yes. Investment funding!  (In contrast to PreSeed)


Can the aws Call be combined with other funding?

Multiple grants for the same project content are excluded. Among other things, the aws Call is subject to EU competition law under the General Block Exemption Regulation (AGVO), Art. 22, which means that an applicant for funding may receive a maximum of EUR 400,000.00 in the first five tax years pursuant to Art. 22.


Which costs are funded?

Please refer to the guideline specifications, summary and the document titled “Information on costs applied for in the aws Call “Starting a business in rural areas””.

Three comparative offers are to be obtained for all cost items exceeding EUR 10,000, and two comparative offers for cost items between EUR 5,000 and EUR 10,000, and these must be submitted with the application. Therefore, it is recommended to submit only essential investment items for funding. 

Costs not associated with the project submitted, especially the cost of the purchase of real estate, are not eligible for funding.

Cost items under EUR 5,000 are not eligible for funding.


What is not funded?

Please refer to the guideline


Is there a minimum project amount?

The minimum project volume is EUR 20,000.- Typical project dimensions are around EUR 100,000.00.


Is there a maximum project amount?

Yes, EUR 200,000.


What is the maximum duration of a project?

The maximum duration of a project is 24 months, typically 12 months.


How does submission of the application generally work?

Please refer to the guideline


What documents are required?

Please refer to the guideline


Can own templates be used?

In order to evaluate projects, a minimal standard basic grid is required. It includes comparable business plans, project plans and project cost statements based on the given templates. Thus, own templates cannot be accepted in this case.

Possible supplementary material includes explanatory technical documents, plans and sketches.


Can an existing business plan be used?

No. The templates made available are to be used.


How does the selection of eligible projects work?

The aws and an external jury (consisting of experts) evaluate and select the projects proposed to the aws for the final funding decision. These assess the submitted projects and submit a funding suggestion to aws. The final decision is made by aws.


  • During an initial selection, projects are selected by aws that meet the formal criteria and project requirements of the aws Call. Positively evaluated projects are admitted to the further selection process. Projects that are evaluated negatively will receive a written rejection. It is based on the aws Call assessment criteria (please refer to the guideline specifications in the download section of the website)
  • In the next step, the projects are forwarded to the jury.
  • Based thereon, the jury will rank the projects. The final funding decision is made by aws upon recommendation of the jury.
  • Following a positive funding decision, the funding applicants will be informed and funding agreements will be established.


Does the rule "not older than five years" only apply to GmbHs (limited liability companies) or also to sole proprietorships, OGs (general partnerships), acquired companies, etc.?

Yes. The rule applies to start-up companies, self-employed activities in the same business field as the submitted project and also to acquired companies.

Please refer to the guideline for legal forms that are in principle NOT funded.


From when can investments of the submitted project be made?
After submitting the application.


Is there the possibility of receiving funding through GAL “Starting a business in rural areas” if a business enterprise (registration in 2006, for example) has registered a new business in 2012, for example?

No, since the entrepreneurial activity was already started in 2006, the company is no longer considered “young” in the sense of the associated guideline specifications (“Programme to support investments by young, innovative small enterprises in rural areas in their start-up activities”).


Can a capital company (GmbH) be founded within the project duration?

Yes. The formation of a capital company is possible at any time, but aws must be notified.


Must at least one major funding recipient be employed full-time?



Is it necessary for the funding recipients to make a contribution of their own?

The financing of the part of the project not receiving funding must be secured.


If one was initially active as a sole proprietor not entered in the commercial register and then founded a GmbH, from when do the five years begin to run?

From the start of the self-employed entrepreneurial activity. Proof of confirmation of social insurance.


What are the assessment criteria for selection?
Projects are evaluated on the basis of an evaluation matrix according to the guideline specifications:

At least 3 points in one category, at least 20 points in total!

Should there be a tie, projects with the same number of points will be ranked according to the following criteria:

Innovation (weighting of 40%)

  • Product innovations: expansion of the portfolio with new products and services including the development of new business areas and/or repositioning along the value-added chain
  • Process innovations: modernisation of processes including the introduction of innovative business models or distribution structures


Growth / Employment (weighting of 40%)

  • Employment effect (as a result of the project)
  • Increase in the export ratio as a result of the project
  • Assumption of a (first-time) entrepreneurial venture or risk


Environmentally relevant (weighting of 10%)

  • Does the project have environmentally friendly effects? If so, is this done through environmentally friendly processes and/or environmentally friendly products?


Social impact, diversity (weighting of 10%)

  • Does the project or company policy have a positive social impact (age distribution in the company, cultural diversity, people with disabilities)?
  • Are there any measures to support gender equality in the company?


How is payment made?

In general, the grant will be paid out in one tranche after assessing the requirements and after the terms and conditions associated with the funding agreement have been met:

In the event that the final project cost statement shows that:

  • the actual costs incurred are less than the estimated costs, and/or
  • the funds already paid exceed the costs actually incurred,

the total funding will be reduced accordingly. The grant recipient must repay any difference within two weeks.


How is confidentiality of the jury 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.


If I want to produce my financial planning in more detail, what tools do you offer?

In this case, we recommend "plan4you". You can find a free version here:


Can a business takeover or succession be funded?

Not if the purpose of the company remains the same; mere succession is not regarded as a start-up.


What are the limitations of GAL ("Starting a business in rural areas") with regard to the various sectors?

GAL does not stipulate any explicitly mentioned sectoral restrictions. (Exception: The processing of agricultural products)


Can the project be combined with other aws funding such as liabilities, guarantees and/or loans?

In principle, possibilities of combination exist within the framework of the legal bases, in particular the limits set out in Article 22 of the General Block Exemption Regulation (AGVO). Since a number of general conditions have to be taken into account here, we would ask you to contact aws consultancy services directly for precise clarification of the possibilities for your project plan.


Can the same company be funded by more than one GAL Call?

In principle yes, but the projects must be independent innovative investment projects. Pure capacity expansions are not funded. The company may not be older than 5 years.