On March 10, 2022, the Assembly of the Republic of Albania passed the Law no. 25/2022 “On the Support and Development of Startups” (the Law).
The law is the first act of this nature that regulates the activity of startups in Albania. Upon its approval, the Council of Ministers was charged with the responsibility of preparing and issuing bylaws in its implementation.
On May 11, 2022, the Council of Ministers approved the following bylaws:
- DCM No.311, dated 11.05.2022 “On Determining the Detailed Rules for the Activity and the Manner of Providing the Startup One-Stop-Shop Service, as well as the Services for which the Zero Tariff for Startup Support Applies“
- DCM No. 312, dated 11.05.2022 “On Determining the Detailed Rules for the Content of the Register of Startups and Facilitators, Its Operations and Intercommunion with the Governmental Portal “E-Albania”, as well as for Electronic Documents – Startup Passport- and the Facilitator Passport”
- DCM No. 313, dated 11.05.2022 “On the Approval of the Detailed Rules for the Composition of the Evaluative Commission, as well as the Criteria, the Selection Procedure and the Remuneration of Its Members“
- DCM No. 314 dated 11.05.2022 “On Determining the Detailed Rules for the Organization, Functioning, Composition, Criteria and Selection Procedure, as well as the Remuneration of the Members of the Startup Council“
- DCM No. 315, dated 11.05.2022 “On Determining the Requirements and Criterias that Startups and Startup Facilitators Should Comply With, as well as the Approval of Procedures and Deadlines for Benefiting Grants and other Support Measures“
The Startup One-Stop-Shop service is a mechanism for supporting startups, in accordance with the principle of paperlessness and zero fees in the provision of services.
This service is provided by the Minister of State for Entrepreneurship Protection and in cooperation with the following public institutions:
- National Business Center (NBC);
- Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA);
- National Agency for Information Society (NAIS);
- General Directorate of Industrial Property (DPPI);
- Directorate of Copyright at the Ministry of Culture;
- National Employment and Skills Agency (KPA);
- State Inspectorate of Labor and Social Services;
- General Directorate of Taxes;
- General Directorate of Customs.
The responsible structure for providing one-stop-shop startup service responds to the needs of start-ups for services and information based on the principle “no paper and zero tariff”, for the following services:
- Providing information and advice on the legal regulatory framework in force for start-ups and natural and legal persons;
- Providing information and advice on obligations related to employment, safety and health at work;
- Providing information and advice on the obligation for registration in the commercial register, in accordance with the legislation on traders and companies;
- Providing information and advice on fiscal obligations and other obligations arising from registration in the commercial register and that of self-declaration as a start up;
- Self-declaration in the register of start-ups
- Providing information and advice on registration and protection of intellectual property;
- Providing information and advice on strategic investments based on applicable investment legislation;
- Providing information, advice and networking opportunities with foreign investors, strategists, business angels, funds raised;
- Providing information, consulting and finding partnerships, enabling contacts and connection to international networks for companies, start-ups and investors;
- Support, information and advice on grants, funds and other support measures made available by the government;
- Support, information and advice on grants or funds from other foreign and domestic donors in Albania.
The responsible structure for providing the start-up one-stop-shop service periodically monitors start-ups and start-up facilitators, who have received support measures through grants, in order to verify the compliance of their activity with the requirements of the legislation in force.
The principle of zero tariff for these services applies only during the incubation period, which lasts for 24-months.The incubation duration period and the status as a startup lasts for 24 (twenty four) months, and starts from the moment of self-declaration in the register of startups.
The register serves for the self-declaration of startups and facilitators, for the storage of startups and self-declared facilitators data, for applicants and beneficiaries of grants and other support measures.
At the moment the individual, natural or legal person, self-declares the startup in the startup register, a personal number and an electronic document are automatically generated – as a startup passport.
Startup facilitator receives a similar document, at the moment of registration in the register, with a personal number and electronic document, known as the facilitator’s passport.
The data contained in the register of startups and facilitators are divided into primary and secondary data.
Primary data for startups
- Unique identification number;
- Name of startup;
- Name and surname of the entrepreneur;
- Number of startup members;
- Field of operations;
- Startup’s phase;
- Startup’s description.
Secondary data for startups:
- Individual’s generalities (for startups started by individuals);
- Data registered in the commercial register, such as the date of registration, commercial name, the unique identification number of the entity, the type of company (form of its organization), the field of activity and its mission, the status of startups started by companies or commercial natural persons;
Primary data for facilitators:
- Unique identification number;
- Name of facilitator;
- Information for the legal representative;
- Date of establishment;
- Field of activity;
Secondary data for facilitators:
- Generalities of the legal representative;
- Data from the register of non-profit organizations / business entity / facilitators, the date of organization registration / entity, name of the organization / entity, form of its organization / field of activity and its mission / mission, his/her;
- Headquarters / location;
- Identifying data;
- Description of the services it offers.
This data can be used for scientific and statistical research, analysis, evaluations or various projects, according to the legislation in force for the protection of personal data.
Startup’s passport is issued in the form of an electronic document by the “e-Albania” governmental portal , after filling a self-declaration form with the following data:
- Startups’ unique identification number;
- Startups’ commercial name;
- Startups’ personal number, generated by filling in the self-declaration form in the startup’s register;
Facilitator’s passport is issued in the form of an electronic document by the “e-Albania” governmental portal , after filling a self-declaration form with the following data:
- Facilitator’s unique identification number;
- Facilitator’s name;
- Facilitator’s personal number, generated by filling in the self-declaration form in the register of facilitators;
- Year of creation.
The Start-up Grant Assessment Evaluative Commission (hereinafter referred to as the “Commission”) is a collegial body that will evaluate the requests of startups and facilitators for grant support.
The Commission consists of 4 (four) members and is chaired by the Minister of State for Entrepreneurship Protection. The other members will remain in office for the grant disbursement period, which is May – December 2022. Their elections will be made as it follows:
- 1 (one) member appointed by the Minister responsible for the entrepreneurship;
- 1 (one) member appointed by the Minister responsible for youth and children;
- 1 (one) member appointed by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, from the entrepreneurship sector covering the topic of start-ups and ecosystem;
- 1 (one) expert member from the start-up ecosystem.
Duties of the Commission
- Reviews and evaluates all applications received from start-ups and facilitators;
- Requests additional information or documentation from applicants, when deemed necessary for decision making
- Completes the evaluation report for each application and its members give individual points;
- Approves the grant level for start-up beneficiaries or start-up facilitators, based on the scoring and decision-making of the members of the evaluation commission;
- Considers problematic application cases.
The Startup’s Council is chaired by the minister responsible for entrepreneurship and consists of 5 (five) other members elected by institutions related to the services provided to businesses and startups.
The other appointed members are:
- 1 (one) member appointed by the Ministry of Finance and Economy, who covers the field of entrepreneurship;
- 1 (one) member appointed by the Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA), which covers the field of entrepreneurship and innovation;
- 1 (one) member appointed by the National Agency for Information Society, who covers the field of start-ups and innovation (NAIS);
- 1 (one) member appointed by the General Directorate of Industrial Property (DPPI);
- 1 (one) member appointed by GIZ Albania, which covers the development and promotion of start-ups and the ecosystem.
- Contributes through discussion and gives feedback on existing policies to foster the development of start-ups and the ecosystem;
- Dialogues and exchanges views on raising public awareness towards startups activity, as an objective of this council;
- Identifies and analyzes the main obstacles in the development of start-ups, according to different sectors of the economy and provides solutions to reduce these obstacles;
- Analyzes and selects national, regional and international best practices, which will be recommended for implementation in the process of improving and developing the start-up ecosystem;
- Facilitates triple helix collaboration through constructive dialogue and exchange of views between government, business (start up) and academia;
- Discusses and consults other issues according to the agenda or on the proposal of the chairman;
- Discusses general priorities in the field of startup’s support and the albanian ecosystem.
Grant Support Rules for Startups and Facilitators
Startups and facilitators of self-declared startups in the register can benefit from financial support with budget funds in the form of grants, as well as from other sources of funding, including but not limited to foreign donations and / or facilitators’ investments, according to this law and the legislation in force, if they meet the criteria and are the winner after a competitive and transparent selection process.
Beneficiaries of these grants will be startups and facilitators, who develop innovative projects in priority areas for the development of the country, such as:
- Supporting innovation in priority areas for the development of the country;
- Supporting initiatives that have a positive environmental impact;
- Youth empowerment;
- Empowerment of girls and women entrepreneurs;
- Strengthening social inclusion, diversity and social impact;
- Other priorities, according to the order of the Minister of State for Entrepreneurship Protection.
Grant support will be provided to startups and self-declared facilitators registered in the electronic register (see above).
Eligible startups for application:
- Startups in the early stages who have completed or are pursuing an incubation / acceleration program;
- Startups in the growth phase that are registered in the trade register from 0-1 year;
- Startups in the expansion phase, which are registered in the commercial register from 1-5 years
Startup projects will be supported as well with grants for these activities:
- Participation in activities, competitions, international fairs;
- Participation in international incubation programs up to 3 (three) months;
- Increase of technical skills / capacities;
- Purchase of machinery and / or work equipment;
- Electronic commerce and / or software development;
- Patents and licenses;
- Raw material and product packaging / labeling.
Eligible facilitators for application:
- Academia, including public and private universities;
- Facilitators, such as incubators and accelerators;
- Workspaces, which include providers of work facilities and equipment;
- Municipalities, except the Municipality of Tirana;
- Event organizers;
- High schools and public and private vocational schools.
Startup facilitators will be supported with grants if they meet the following criteria:
- Are registered as natural or legal persons, including non-profit organizations;
- Their main field of activity is training, advising or providing support, through various forms in the field of innovation and / or technology or in similar fields.
Startup facilitators should have experience in providing startup support services, which may include:
- providing premises and workspaces, enabling the registration of legal headquarters and the exercise of business activities in favor of startups;
- providing work tools and equipment, as well as business services, such as offices, premises and work equipment, office, ultra-broadband Internet services, power and water supply;
- administration or direction by persons with competencies and experience in business and innovation;
- regular relations with higher education institutions, scientific research centers or financial partners, which carry out activities and projects related to startups;
- providing incubation and / or acceleration programs, providing mentoring and counseling, for the realization and development of business ideas, training through qualified experts.
Eligible activities for startup facilitator projects which make them fit to benefit from grant support are:
- Providing infrastructure for the establishment of facilities and incubator programs;
- Capacity building for university staff;
- Shared workspaces, closed with on-line reservation system;
- National competitions for startups (escalated from national to international);
- Training / awareness events for startups with national reach, in cooperation with at least one international partner;
- Support services, expertise, exchange of knowledge about startups by international experts;
- International events in the common workspace, with an audience of more than 100 (one hundred) people;
- Innovation academy for young people and businesses (introduction to design techniques, idea generation, new technologies and their application in business).
The request for grant support will be made on-line, through the website and email address of the ministry of state responsible for entrepreneurship. Applications will be subject to the evaluation process by the evaluation commission, as provided above.
Grants will be approved with a decision by the Council of Ministers, following the proposal by the responsible minister, of the evaluation commission decision.
The announced winning projects must be implemented within a maximum period of 5 (five) months from the date of signing the grant agreement between the beneficiary and the minister of state for the entrepreneurship. Grant disbursement for the announced winning projects will be granted up to 3 installments, after the end of the closing period of each phase of the project, against the submission of respective invoices of the expenses incurred and other required documentation.
The legal framework for supporting innovative startups is strengthened with 5 (five) bylaws, as approved by the Council of Minister at its last meeting. These acts provide in details requirements for the startups and facilitators registration process, requirements for grant approval and the application procedures, the bodies for reviewing grant applications and the other criterias for continuous support for the startups in the country
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Best of luck!