Support for development projects

What is the support for development projects?

VLAIO support for development projects encourages the development of an innovative idea (a new or improved product, process or service) that could lead to a short-term strengthening of the company but that still has a number of challenges attached. 

A development project is characterized by a short lead time and results-oriented approach and a clear innovation-driven business case. 

The applicant company must carry out operational activities in the Flemish Region or plan to do so. A minimum of 25,000 euros and a maximum of 3,000,000 euros in support must be requested.

The project may last up to 24 months and may start at the earliest on the first day of the month following the submission date.

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This grant supports the development of an innovative idea that strengthens the business in the short term.

When can I apply for support for development projects?

To be eligible, you must be able to present a compelling business case and a sufficiently challenging development path. 

Business case:

  • All factors affecting the innovation plans should be identified (market analysis, added value for customers, cost benefits).
  • The innovation must fit into the company's strategy and its successful realization must improve the competitive position in the short term.
  • Added value for Flanders: there must be an economic and/or social valorisation with a leverage of at least 10 (i.e. additional investments and employment worth at least 10 X the requested support amount).
  • The right people with the necessary expertise must be deployed and the objective must actually be achievable in the target market.

Development pathway:

  • It must be a development that is new for the company and for the sector.
  • During the project, new knowledge and skills must be built and real challenges must be met that were also effectively identified.
  • Compared to normal business activities and common renewal processes, the project must be clearly different in terms of method, content, intended result and/or risks.

How much is the support for development projects?

The support takes the form of a percentage contribution to eligible costs.

The basic support is 25%. However, for small enterprises (cf. European SME definition) this is increased by 20%.

Eligible costs are:

       1. Personnel costs

Only personnel costs of employees on the payroll of the applicant company are accepted within this section. Business executives who are paid a salary (sheet 281.20) are also included in this category).

The costs of self-employed billing employees, including business managers through management companies, are considered external services.

       2. Overhead costs

Overhead costs are costs indirectly related to the implementation of the project. These costs are not allocable to the project for 100% because they are integrated into the general operation of the organization (e.g., building rental, energy costs, administration, etc.).

The overhead costs are determined at a flat rate on the basis of the number of man-years of employees on the payroll: a maximum of €25,000 per man-year is provided for. However, if it is expected that this lump sum will be lower, this amount must be changed.

       3. Operating costs

Operating costs are real costs related to the implementation of the project. The total amount allowed for operating expenses will be determined during the evaluation of the project application.

Work expenses can be easily claimed up to a maximum of 25,000 euros per human year deployed without additional explanation.

       4. External performance

Third parties such as companies, self-employed persons, freelancers, knowledge centers and research institutions that provide a service on behalf of the applicant company as subcontractors as well as employees of the applicant company who are reimbursed on an invoice basis should be classified under external services.

The heading "external services" includes both services rendered and customised goods which are not capitalised and cost at least EUR 10,000 excluding VAT. If the cost price is lower, these costs are included under the heading "operating expenses".

     5. Investment costs

Only the depreciation costs of investments that are specifically necessary for the implementation of the development project are eligible. The allocation is made on a pro rata basis according to the rate of use, utilization, or occupancy and the period of use of the investment within the project period.

Under the heading of investment costs, only depreciation costs of at least 20,000 euros are eligible and which account for at least 10% of the total budget. If the amount is less, these depreciation costs are included under the heading of operating expenses.

How can I apply for support for development projects?

An application for support for development projects must be made online in a VLAIO web application at the latest in the month before the project starts.

The main components of the application file are the application form (mandatory word template) with the descriptions of the business case and development path on the one hand and the project budget (mandatory excel template) on the other hand. In addition, there are a number of mandatory annexes containing mainly financial business information. Since Oct. 1, 2022, large companies and energy-intensive SMEs must also attach a climate plan.

Support for development projects can be applied for on an ongoing basis.

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