Regional councils responsible for the distribution of EU funds for the period 2007-2013 will announce, according to Gazeta Prawna, the first lot of competitions for the best business plans in the first quarter of 2008. The application process will commence earlier. Companies seeking to win are looking for help to outside agencies that specialize in getting EU funds. Within the years 2004-2006 the most efficient agencies in the field were Faber Consulting and Ernst & Young.
The general atmosphere from larger companies is to pay a specialist agency rather than waste time on procedures usually foreign to the business entrepreneur.
According to Gazeta Prawna, smaller business plans competing for amounts between 200,000 to 300,000 zloty, are better off preparing their plans themselves rather than seek consultancy companies. Przemyslaw Sulich, director of a consultancy agency A1 Europe, points out the agencies do not only assist in writing up the application documentation. Agencies can also double-check if all relevant information passed on to the funding committee is in order, or they can help in training an employer or employees in EU funding matters.
The risk involved in contracting a consultant today is not similar to that of the time when Poland entered the EU. Once the Union opened its doors to Poland and its funding possibilities, thousands of inexperienced consultancy firms flooded the market with promises of quick gains of EU funds.
The result was a myriad of applications that had little or no chance of succeeding, with even the most basic information erroneously entered on forms.
Currently the Polish market is equipped with consultants who match the consultancy giants with the experience and skill. Client care is a priority with consultants being able to spend more time with their client portfolios individually.
The upcoming year will mean a feverous battle among consultancy agencies for a new client base. The end result will not be dissimilar to that of Western Europe, where only a few agencies survived the competition. The customer will be seeking the lowest prices on the market and many of the agencies will be unable to compete.