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The certification process for start-up companies is now open

On 21 July, Spain’s Official State Bulletin (BOE) published Ministerial Order PCM/825/2023 regulating the criteria and procedure for start-up companies to access benefits and specialist measures recognised in Law 28/2022, of 21 December 2016 to promote the start-up ecosystem, and Spain’s national innovation body (ENISA) has since opened the process to apply for certification.

The Law recognises ENISA, which reports to the General Directorate of Industry and SMEs within the Department of Trade, Industry and Tourism, as the body responsible for granting certification as a start-up company to any legal entity that meets, among others, the following requirements described in the Law:

  • Be a new company or one set up within the past five years, or seven years in the case of the biotechnology, energy, or industrial sectors, among others.
  • Have registered offices or permanent premises in Spain.
  • The majority of its work force must have a contract in Spain.
  • Develop an innovative and scalable entrepreneurship project.
  • Not be listed on a regulated market or have distributed dividends.
  • Turnover must be below ten million euros.

Certification is a necessary procedure to be able to benefit from the tax and social benefits established in the Start-Ups Law.

The Ministerial Order includes, in Article 4, the criteria for evaluating innovative entrepreneurship.

  • Spending on technological R&D/Innovation must represents at least 15% of the company’s total spending during the previous two years, or, in the previous year in the case of companies set up within the past two years.
  • The applicant company must have been the beneficiary of investment, financing or public aid for the development of R&D/Innovation projects or innovative entrepreneurship in the last 3 years without having this funding revoked due to incorrect or insufficient execution of the financed activity.
  • The company must have been issued a reasoned report by the Spanish Department of Science and Innovation, regarding its high level of innovation.
  • The company must accredit that it qualifies for a discounted rate on its Social Security contributions due to its employment of research staff.
  • The company must have innovative SME accreditation granted by the Spanish Department of Science and Innovation.
  • The company must have been issued a Young Innovative Enterprise Certification by AENOR (EA0043) or Innovative Small or Micro Enterprise Certification by AENOR (EA0047) or Certification in accordance with UNE 166,002-Management Systems of R&D/Innovation.

If none of the criteria mentioned above are met, the certification body will evaluate the nature of the innovative entrepreneurship taking into account whether the applicant company meets any of the following requirements:

  • The presence of technological innovation, whether under development or already being exploited, and which may be protected by industrial property rights (excluding trademarks and trade names) or other rights such as protected software or know-how, all of which relate to the business model of the applicant company. An optional report may be requested from the Spanish Patents and Trademark Office (SPTO) for the evaluation of this aspect.
  • The presence of innovation in products, processes, services and/or business models.

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