4 minute read 27 Aug 2021

The Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), has expanded its support measures for innovation initiatives with an “R&D Feasibility Study”.

4 reasons why this new R&D subsidy might be a gamechanger for your startup

Authors
Koen Illeghems

EY Belgium Business Tax Advisory Manager

Supporting companies in financing solutions and subsidizing R&D & I.

The Factory

Innovation enabling start-up within EY Belgium

Enabling innovators. Supporting startups & scale-ups. Enabling corporate innovation.

4 minute read 27 Aug 2021

The Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), has expanded its support measures for innovation initiatives with an “R&D Feasibility Study”.

In brief

  • Projects are supported at 40% or 50%, with a grant of €25,000 to €50,000
  • The feasibility study will narrow your knowledge gap and boost impact creation
  • Find useful tips for writing your application

You have an innovative idea, but don’t know if it’s (technically) feasible yet? You’re in need of funding to bridge your project’s knowledge gap?

Last May 2021, the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), has expanded its support measures for innovation initiatives with an “R&D Feasibility Study”.  The projects have a duration of 3 to 12 months and are supported at 40% or 50%, with a grant of €25,000 to €50,000. This financial support might be a gamechanger for your startup! Our subsidy experts explain why.

1. Less risk, more opportunity

With whom are you going to work on your idea? How are you going to handle it? Will it be feasible? An R&D Feasibility Study is the first important step in your innovative project. It will provide you better and substantiated insights into the possibilities and feasibility of your innovation. The financial support will give you more room to invest in the assessment of risks and opportunities along your innovation path. You’ll have more funding for your employees, for new joiners, for contractors, for doing more tests, etc. You’ll see, the knowledge boost and insights you'll get will be of significant value!

In your application, demonstrate that this feasibility study leads to further innovative activities, and that it contributes to the creation of knowledge which will allow for a better assessment of risks and opportunities when considering investing in an ambitious future innovation plan.

TIP

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2. Low Threshold

The greatest opportunity for startups lies in the fact that the support is very accessible. It’s a relatively smaller subsidy, goes less in-depth, and is only up to 12 months. This means that companies don’t have to - or aren’t supposed to - think too far ahead. Moreover, instead of the usual 30-page subsidy document, this application only requires 10 pages. There is no call for a specific sector either. The only condition is you’re working to a certain goal, something new, but don’t exactly know how to. You can apply for 1 R&D Feasibility Study a year. 

Make sure you investigate the challenging technical and/or scientific aspects of your project. Furthermore, topics such as business model innovation, service innovation and possible intellectual property issues may be addressed. Projects merely aiming at idea generation, a short-term market study or problem solving will not be considered.

TIP

Don’t forget to highlight the most supportable elements in your dossier. For example, did you already conduct a first test? This could be of crucial importance when stressing your need of a knowledge boost. 

Our team of subsidy experts can coach you on this, review it thoroughly, and bring out the best of your project. Get in contact with our experts.

3. Prepare for your trajectory

This study is an exploratory trajectory before a more in-depth full blown innovation trajectory. See it as the preliminary stage for VLAIO’s follow-up trajectory subsidies for research, development and ICON projects. The R&D Feasibility Study should, thus, be the first thing you should look into when starting an innovative project, as your innovation that is intended with the innovative follow-up trajectories must have the potential for sufficient valorisation in Flanders.

TIP

When preparing your application, think about 2 main themes: the technical part and the part on market fit and impact creation.

  1. Have you thought about the different steps, activities, tasks, work packages, literature study, experimental setups, testings, parameters, etc. when thickening your document? Did you design an R&D roadmap and made it concrete with tangible steps?

  2. Will your project create impact on the long term? Will it create job opportunities and investments in Flanders? How will you position your product in the market? How big is this market? How will you build up your production line? How will VLAIO see this?

    Our team thinks about the do’s and don’ts and will deep dive into the subsidiology of your project. Make it successful, get in contact now!

4. Fast Decision

The evaluation trajectory of this subsidy is shorter than that of the regular innovation support. Only 2 weeks after you have applied, you will get an invite for an interview. During this period, the agency will decide about granting the support internally, in general without involving external experts.

TIP

Our experts tip 3 important elements to keep in mind when writing your application:

  1. Mention your co-financing 
  2. Make sure you explain your revenue model for the long term. Point out your growth, investments, employments, and highlight the sustainability of the growth for your business. 
  3. Set goals. You’d like to conquer technical risks. So, what are the challenges and the risks involved? This application is very different than a pitchdeck to investors. Mention the big risks, the newness of your innovation, the possible failures, the technical difficulties, etc.

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Summary

With an R&D Feasibility Study, you will have more room to work on risk assessments and you will be fully prepared for the next VLAIO trajectories. Don’t hesitate to apply as the threshold is low and decisions are made on a rapid basis. Our subsidies and incentives team listed some practical tips for making your application most successful.

About this article

Authors
Koen Illeghems

EY Belgium Business Tax Advisory Manager

Supporting companies in financing solutions and subsidizing R&D & I.

The Factory

Innovation enabling start-up within EY Belgium

Enabling innovators. Supporting startups & scale-ups. Enabling corporate innovation.