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Feel like growing? Then consider the SME growth grant!

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The SME growth subsidy is a subsidy instrument through which the Flemish government supports SMEs in Flanders to achieve a growth trajectory. Up to 50,000 euros in support can be obtained for the recruitment of a strategic profile and for the acquisition of knowledge from an external service provider.

As of January 1, 2021, the SME growth subsidy can no longer be applied for on a continuous basis but will be based on thematic project calls.

The third call for 2021 will be open from November 1 to December 31. Growth projects can be submitted that revolve around internationalization, digitalization, sustainable and circular business or innovation.


1. Internationalize, digitize, circular enterprise or innovate


Both for companies exporting for the first time and for companies that have experience exporting and want to expand into new markets.

  • Internationalization must pose new challenges to the company to a sufficient degree.
  • The internationalization should result in sustainable economic growth for the site in Flanders.
  • Do not qualify: one-time opportunities or quick wins abroad.



For companies looking to substantially increase their digital maturity.

  • The growth trajectory is framed within a transition to a data-driven organization where services, products or processes are made smarter through data.
  • The growth trajectory must show sufficient challenge and ambition and reach beyond common evolutions in terms of digitalization.
  • Do not qualifyIn addition to the above, there are a number of other projects: projects that are purely aimed at increasing maturity with regard to cyber security, the development or implementation of digital applications such as an ERP system, setting up a webshop, digital marketing and marketing automation or converting data from a paper medium to a digital medium in order to digitize existing processes and make data digitally available within the organization.


Sustainable and circular business

Both for companies that are taking the first step towards sustainable and circular business, and for companies that are already active in this and are taking the next (substantial) new step.

  • The pathway focuses on one or more circular economy strategies with a view to efficient and smart use of materials or closing material cycles.
  • The project addresses the manufacturing or construction industry or its related value chain.
  • Do not qualify: pathways that do not have a substantial impact on the company and only focus on flanking or supporting measures such as energy efficiency or the use of renewable energy.



For companies with a concrete strategy to develop an innovative business model by bringing innovative products or services to the market or by setting up innovative business processes.

  • The innovative products and services are highly innovative for the industry, not merely innovative for the applicant itself.
  • The innovative business processes are not yet commonplace within the industry and innovative for the applicant, in addition to which their implementation presents clear challenges for the applicant.
  • The innovative business model must result in a competitive advantage for the company, which will potentially lead to sustainable economic growth for the company in Flanders.
  • Do not qualify: pathways aimed at exploring innovation opportunities, developing an innovation roadmap, investigating the feasibility of a proposed innovation or developing new products, services or business processes through an intensive research or development pathway.


2. What costs are eligible?

The grant is awarded for the acquisition or purchase of the strategic knowledge needed to achieve your growth trajectory. The acquisition of this knowledge can be done by:

  • the recruitment of a strategic employee
  • the advice of one or more service providers, with each individual advisory assignment costing at least €20,000.

Recruitment or start-up of the consulting assignment may not take place until the month following the month of submission of the aid application, at the earliest.


3. Amount

The grant will be up to 25,000 euros for the recruitment of a strategic profile and up to 25,000 euros for the advice of one or more external service provider(s):

Acquisition of strategic profile

Advice external service provider(s)

What costs ?

Gross base annual salary X 1,596

  • personnel and operating costs
  • relocation costs
  • Guidance costs for implementation

Aid rate



Maximum support

25,000 euros

25,000 euros

Per application file, a maximum of 50,000 euros can be supported, so as a company you have to make a choice for which growth path you submit the application. A file can be submitted every 36 months. So if you were awarded an SME growth subsidy in 2017, you now have another chance to apply for your company.


4. Timing?

The call will be open from November 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. A digital application form will be available on the VLAIO website at the time the call opens.


Do you have questions about the SME growth grant or could you use our help? Then please here contact us!