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Public Call for the Improvement of Cooperation Between Science and Economy in the Field of Circular Innovations – CIRCULAR VOUCHERS

About the project

Circular economy is an economic model which saves and renews natural resources and energy, prolongs the use of materials and products, and reduces waste. In the last 50 years, global resource consumption has quadrupled, with unsustainable increases in energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and the amount of waste generated. Currently, less than 9% of global economy is based on circular principles, and these principles will be a essential for a sustainable economy of the future.

In order to encourage and promote the circular economy in the local context, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and UNDP partner to implement the “Reducing the carbon footprint of local communities by applying the principles of the circular economy in the Republic of Serbia – Circular Communities” project, with the financial support of the Global Environmental Fund (GEF), from March 2022 to March 2027.

The aim of the project is to encourage development and support the implementation of circular initiatives, business models and products of public and private companies, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of local communities in Serbia.

Who is this call for and what are circular vouchers?

This call is intended for accredited scientific research organisations (SRO)[1]in the Republic of Serbia which cooperate with the economy (private and public enterprises), or intend to start cooperation with the economy, in order to promote the circular economy principles and values ​​of in practice.

Circular vouchers represent a financial incentive for starting cooperation between scientific research organisations and business entities, through rewarding specific proposals of initiatives in the field of circular economy that contribute to mitigating climate change.

The aim of this incentive is to recognise the actual needs and possibilities of the market in Serbia to apply circular innovations, as well as the development of innovation capacities of business entities in Serbia, primarily small and medium-sized enterprises, through cooperation with SRO, in the domain of increasing efficiency and reusing raw materials, and increasing the ability of Serbia and its competent institutions to actively face the global environmental threat of lack of resources and the climate crisis.

This initiative will encourage and accelerate the development of new solutions that are based on the circular economy principles and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions), while enabling an insight into the obstacles to placing such initiatives on the market, legal barriers and investment potentials.

This call will identify innovative initiatives (new financing or business models, new technologies, digital solutions, new approaches with adaptive elements, transport models, standardisation, eco-labelling, etc.) proposed by a scientific research organisation, applicable in the specific context of private or public company and developed in cooperation with that company. This process improves the commercialisation of green innovations and thus directly increases the efficiency of the use of raw materials, energy, and the reduction of harmful emissions, taking into account all 7 stages of a product’s life cycle[2].

[1] List of accredited scientific research organisations

[2]Product life cycle stages: ISO 14001.

Value and format of circular vouchers

The evaluation panel will evaluate the submitted applications and select 10 initiatives that will receive the innovation award, i.e. circular vouchers.

Financial awards for innovation will be paid to the holders of the best-rated applications, upon the decision of the evaluation panel approved by the Project Steering Committee, and upon the signing of the Award Agreement between UNDP and the application holders.

Circular vouchers will be given to voucher beneficiaries of awarded applications, and represent a mechanism on the basis of which SRO can provide services to a business entity from its consortium, through of research, development, standardisation, transfer of knowledge or technology services and establishment of new practices – described in the awarded application, in the amount of up to USD 12,000 paid out in RSD equivalent. The services can be provided within 12 months.

The total budget for circular voucher rewards is USD120,000, with each voucher amounting to up to USD12,000. A minimum of 10 vouchers will be awarded to the selected consortia.

Only one voucher can be awarded per application.

Who can apply?

For this Public call, organisations shall apply in a consortium, which shall consist of at least two members with different roles:

  1. The applicant must be an accredited scientific research organisation
    • An institute[1];
    • A higher education institution[2];
    • A centre of excellence[3];
    • An institute founded by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts[4].
  1. Voucher beneficiary – shall be a business entity registered in the Republic of Serbia:
    • An entrepreneur;
    • A company;
    • A cooperative or cooperative union;
    • A public company;
    • A branch of a local and foreign company.

The participation of production and service micro, small and medium enterprises is particularly encouraged.

  1. Associates in submitting the application – optional (participation of associates in a consortium is not a requirement for application):
    • Other SRO;
    • Other business entities;
    • Associations, clusters, etc.


All applicants must be registered in the Republic of Serbia no later than 31 December 2021, in accordance with the national legislation of Serbia.

The lead applicant shall be a scientific research organisation. The contact person and information for all questions related to the application shall be available in the application form. The lead applicant is also the main beneficiary of the funds of this call. The consortium shall comprise at least two members, of which the applicant is an organisation engaged in scientific research, while the voucher beneficiary is at least one business entity. Cooperation between organisations engaged in scientific research activities and the business entity is evidenced by a Memorandum of Understanding, signed before submitting the application and attached to the application form.

One scientific research organisation can act lead applicant in several applications in this Public Call, but among the awarded consortia, one applicant will be able to receive a maximum of one award (one circular voucher) as a lead applicant, and one award as an associate of the consortium.

Business entities as Voucher Beneficiaries can participate in at most one application in that capacity, and in another application as an Associate of the consortium within this Public Call.

Read more about this call rule in the Selection Process section.

Important Note: Applications will not be accepted if voucher beneficiaries or partners in submitting the application are engaged in:

  1. production, sale or distribution of tobacco or tobacco products;
  2. production of alcoholic beverages;
  3. production, sale or distribution of weapons.

[1] List of accredited institutes.

[2] List of accredited faculties and universities.

[3] List of accredited centres of excellence.

[4] List of institutes the founder of which is the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Which initiatives are eligible for this Public call?

Support will be provided to 10 innovative initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on circular economy (CE) principles, proposed by a consortium led by a scientific research organisation.

It is expected that the proposed innovative initiatives promote circular and energy-efficient technical solutions, which use resources prudently, promote low-carbon or carbon-neutral development and business models that could achieve significant impacts, scalable and sustainable otucomes in terms of generating demand for the solution on the market.

The expected outcomes of the initiatives can be in the form of:

  • Proof of concept, prototype development, testing or certification of a product, service or process;
  • Technological or business improvement of an existing circular product, service or process;
  • Report on the implementation of customised training or consulting in the field of innovation and intellectual property management, i.e. capacity building in the field of circular management and processes related to environmental protection, including the management of energy capacities from renewable sources;
  • Proof of the introduction of standards (ISO 14001, ISO 50001, ISO 26000), the Republic of Serbia Eco label, or the organic products label, if the standard is a function of the planned activities of applying circular principles in the production process or in the provision of services;
  • Report on the results of the use of business or technical tools introduced through the initiative proposal.

This list is only an illustration of possible initiatives, and does not constitute a limit for applications.

The priority challenges, the addressing of which is supported by this Public Call, are as follows:

  1. Increasing the share of reuse of non-hazardous and non-toxic secondary raw materials in production processes, in accordance with legal regulations;
  2. New circular design or eco-design, which extends the product’s life cycle, reduces its harmful properties for people and the environment, reduces the total carbon footprint of the product, as well as the demand and consumption of materials (dematerialisation), promotes the use of alternative raw materials/resources, increases the possibility of product repairs, upgrading and ease of disassembly, with a focus on increased energy and raw material efficiency in the product use phase.
  3. New solutions for increasing raw material and energy efficiency in production and related processes (including automation, digitisation and robotisation);
  4. Innovations in the decarbonisation of product logistics (transportation of (secondary) raw materials, products and product parts, distribution of finished goods, sales and storage);
  5. New business models that are focused on sharing, pooling and connecting, increasing the durability of products, greater intensity of use and reuse of products, as well as the transition to virtual ways of using and providing services;
  6. New solutions that prevent disposal of products, components and/or materials in landfills and allow that they be reused, including direct return to the market, repairs, processing, renewal, recycling, new business models;
  7. Initiatives that increase the visibility and traceability of flows and use of materials and energy throughout the entire product life cycle or its spatial distribution.
  8. Initiatives that ensure standardisation and proof of an ecological approach through verification with the eco-label, organic production label or the Čuvarkuća (Common Houseleek) trademark, but also with other labels that support the healthy and sustainable development of the economy through the introduction of recognised standards, the EU or Serbian eco-label or the Serbian conformity label;
  9. Introducing tools in business operations that will enable the evaluation and monitoring of environmental impacts of processes, products or services.

Application process

The Application form shall be completed in the Serbian language, while the summary of the proposed initiative within the form itself shall be described in the Serbian and English languages. It is important that the applicants respond all questions precisely and clearly, and that when describing the initiative, they clearly indicate what the expected, measurable outcome of the initiative is (expressed through one key indicator).

A mandatory part of the application process is the Memorandum of Understanding between the scientific research organisation and the business entity, which is prepared in free form, but must be signed and submitted as an attachment to the application, in order for the application to be successfully submitted.

The applications shall be submitted through the following link:

The following documents shall be enclosed to the Application Form, via email to

  • A copy of the extract from the companies register as well as the scientific and research organisations register of the applicant;
  • A copy of the companies register extract of the partner company’s business entity;
  • A signed Memorandum of Understanding between the scientific research organisation and the partner company.
  • A completed, signed, (stamped) and scanned declaration of intellectual property rights, in PDF format, which is available on this link.


The deadline for submitting applications is by 5:00 p.m. on 1 December 2022

Evaluation process

The UNDP team will primarily accept or reject applications based on the criteria of fulfilment of the following administrative requirements:

  • Fulfilment of the formal requirements of the consortium submitting the application (completed application form and submitted supporting documentation);
  • The response of the initiative, that is, service to the priority challenges defined by this Public Call.

If all technical criteria are met, the UNDP team will accept and forward the proposals to the Evaluation Panel, which will evaluate the applications according to the proposed evaluation criteria.

Evaluation criteria

Criterion Maximum Score Description
Initiative proposal’s consistency 15



Is the basic information clear, regarding the concept, technology, business model, product or service?
Innovativeness 30


Indicative scale:

– 30 points: The initiative is innovative. There is no knowledge of the previous application of this product, service or process.


– 15 points: There is very limited access to such products, services or processes


– 0: The initiative is not innovative, this practice has been established as a business practice in Serbia



Can the initiative be considered innovative compared to the existing solutions in Serbia? Are the concept, technology and approach clearly described?
Impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental protection, reduction of pollution, increase in transparency and efficiency of resource use



Indicative scale:

15 points: well-argumented and clearly described impact


10 points: scarcely or vaguely described impact


5 points: only indicated or evidently unrealistically estimated impact


0 points: no impact indicated


Qualitative and potentially quantitative description of impacts. Systematic explanation of the method of quantification and argumentation of the assumptions used for the projection of the initiative’s positive impact.
Initiative’s feasibility of and consortium’s capacity









Indicative scale:


20 points: The description of the initiative clearly describes the roles of the consortium members, the competencies fully correspond to the proposed initiative


10 points: vaguely described or not fully adequate consortium


0 points: The consortium is not described or a completely inadequate team.


The consortium’s description of the implementation of the activities, individual skills and knowledge of the consortium members, and description of the roles/responsibilities of the consortium members.




Initiative’s sustainability





Potential for long-term cooperation, Indicative scale:


20 points: The description of the initiative clearly indicates the need and plan for the stakeholders’ further cooperation of the  even after the end of the activity period, and also describes the potential of replicating the initiative’s outcomes.


10 points: The description of the initiative barely explained the continuation of the cooperation between the consortium members


0 points: Completely unclearly described or no description of the continuation of cooperation between the economy and scientific research organisations.


A description that clearly shows how the initiative has the potential to be scaled up and the outcomes applied by other stakeholders in Serbia?


An insight into the way and the need for cooperation between consortium members even after the initiative has been completed. Indicate the need for cooperation with other recognised stakeholders from the economy or scientific research sphere in the future.

Total 100

The selection process

Each application will be evaluated by at least two independent experts, whereupon the Project Steering Committee, based on the Evaluation Panel’s report, will make a final decision on the awards, i.e. circular vouchers.

Although one scientific research institution may submit multiple applications as a lead applicant, each scientific research institution will be able to receive only one award (one circular voucher for a business representative in the consortium) as a lead applicant, and only one award as a consortium associate.

Ten (10) initiatives will be awarded circular vouchers. UNDP will deliver the notice on the circular voucher award and the contract to the lead applicant for signature, within ten (10) working days of the date of the end of the Public Call. The ceremonial awarding of circular vouchers to voucher beneficiaries will be organised on 21 December 2022.


Date (deadline) Description of events, activities
01/11/2022 Call opening and presentation
17/11/2022 Info day about the Public call
01/12/2022 Deadline for submission of applications (5:00 p.m.)
15/12/2022 Public announcement of call results
21/12/2022 Ceremonial awarding of circular vouchers
Apr-June 2023 Evaluation and networking ceremony
20/12/2023 Deadline for submitting a report on the initiative’s success

Expected next steps

The process plan is to hold a mandatory experience exchange meeting in the second quarter of 2023 for all winners of circular vouchers. Although the vouchers are a financial reward for innovation for SRO, the UNDP expects continued cooperation within the consortium and a real benefit of the vouchers for business entities.

In addition to the experience exchange meeting, the rewarded consortia will be required to submit a short narrative report on the initiative ‘s success, as well as an overview and description of the obstacles they encountered in the process of implementing the proposed initiative. The deadline for submitting the report is 12 months after the approval of funds for circular vouchers.

Intellectual property rights

The applicant shall provide a written confirmation, to accompany their application confirming to UNDP that they hold all intellectual property rights which are reasonably foreseeable as necessary for achieving this Public call’s goals, or a manner in which these rights shall be resolved in conformity with the call goals. Furthermore, the applicant is required to confirm to UNDP that no intellectual property disputes have arisen from the innovative idea.

The certificate should properly address and explain the intellectual property rights between the consortium members. In the case of other intellectual property issues, the applicants are required to disclose all information to UNDP in a timely manner prior to project evaluation.

Contact Information

For more information, visit the website

The contact persons for this Public call are Ana Mitić-Radulović and Vladimir Jovanović.

If you have questions, please write to us at the e-mail address,or call us at phone number +381658535299.

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