State aid rules – for organisations engaged in economic activity

State aid rules exist to protect competition in the EU’s internal market. The rules are applicable when Formas provides grants to companies and other organisations engaged in economic activity.

In order for aid to constitute state aid, it must meet several criteria. It shall be given to undertakings (economic activities). It shall consist of state resources that gives the recipient an advantage, on a selective basis. It shall affect trade and competition.

An undertaking is defined as an entity engaged in an economic activity, regardless of its legal status or the way it is financed. The notion covers all activities consisting in offering goods and services on a market.

What Formas can fund

Formas can provide grants to organisations engaged in economic activity for certain types of projects. Under the state aid rules, Formas can offer aid to cover certain types of costs, usually only up to a certain level (aid intensity). Other costs must be co-funded by the recipient.

Which costs are eligible, and the maximum aid intensity, depends on the type of project and thus the legal basis (the provision that Formas can apply). The relevant legal basis is stated in our call texts and our funding decisions.

Sometimes the size of the organisation has an impact on the aid intensity Formas can provide. Our decisions show the aid intensity for each recipient, since different recipients may receive different amounts of aid depending on factors like the legal basis and the size of the organisation.

Formas may decide on a lower aid intensity than the maximum allowed under EU rules.

More information

Formas’ legal bases and aid intensity (pdf) , 326.6 kB. (only in Swedish)

Which costs Formas can fund (pdf) External link. (only in Swedish)

Good for applicants to know

Formas is not allowed to provide grants to those who are in financial difficulties, nor to measures that have begun before a grant application is submitted to Formas.

When Formas provides a grant to an economic activity, we need to carry out certain assessments and checks before taking a decision, so you might need to provide us with additional information.

Formas is obliged to report its decisions to award state aid over certain amounts. The general limit for reporting is 100 000 euro, but if the project concerns primary agricultural production or the fishery and aquaculture sector the limit is 10 000 euro. This means that information concerning these decisions to award state aid will be made publicly available on a website (TAM) which is operated by the EU Commission. This applies when Formas is using GBER as legal grounds for the aid.

Applicants for de minimis aid must provide proof of how much aid of this type they have received over a specific period of time.

Statement of de minimis aid (pdf) External link. (only in Swedish)

For multi-party projects, the project parties must certify that they will carry out the project according to Formas’ decision.

Statement of project party’s approval (pdf) External link. (only in Swedish)

Research institutes and so-called research organisations, which carry out both economic and non-economic activities, may be asked to provide a separate certificate.

Statement of separate accounting and ancillary activities (pdf) External link. (only in Swedish)

Whoever receives a grant from Formas must comply with the conditions attached to the decision. Anyone who has wrongly received state aid must repay the grant to Formas.

As a general rule, Formas’ general terms and conditions are attached to our funding decisions. For multi-party projects, additional conditions apply. Sometimes also special call-specific conditions apply. The terms and conditions that apply for you are stated in Formas’ decision.

Special provisions for recipients of state aid are set out in Formas’ general terms and conditions, Section 5. They state that you must notify Formas if you experience financial difficulties and that you must repay unduly paid state aid.

Terms and Conditions for Grants

State aid provisions

Formas can grant state aid and de minimis aid according to a number of legal bases in the EU’s state aid rules. This is stated in Formas’ so-called aid scheme.

State aid is prohibited as a general rule, since state aid to undertakings is normally considered to distort competition. However, EU rules allow for certain exemptions, such as for research and innovation.

In Section 3 of Formas’ aid scheme, the government has stipulated which legal bases Formas may apply.

Formas’ aid scheme ( External link. only in Swedish

The scheme, in turn, refers to two so-called block exemption regulations under EU law.

General Block Exemption Regulation ( External link.

De Minimis Regulation ( External link.

At EU level, several documents have also been produced that are relevant to state aid for research and innovation.

EU Commission Notice on State Aid ( External link.

EU Commission Framework for State Aid for R&D ( External link.

EU Commission Recommendation on SMEs ( External link.

EU Commission User Guide on SMEs ( External link.

Updated:3 January 2024
Page manager: Johan Hansson