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The Belgian region of Flanders provides for a distinct set of support measures specifically targeted at Small and Medium Sized Companies (SMEs). SMEs in Flanders are defined in accordance with the official EU criteria.

 Funding programmes for SMEs

 ► SME Growth Grants provide for advice or training provided by distinct experts to pursue economic growth-oriented measures and strategies. For general growth measures a 30% grant for advice or training of key staff (maximum grant 7.500 €) can be provided. The training or advice should be provided by a registered expert. For Strategic Growth measures a 50%-grant is available for services by external experts. 50% of the annual costs of a new strategic employee are eligible. The grant is limited to two times 25.000 € grant per year.

VLAIO developments projects provide grants of up to 3 million € available for entrepreneurs in Flanders. The funding covers up to 45% of the project budget with a duration of up to 24 months. The quality of the application includes a technical description of the project of about 30 pages. Alike schemes are available for Basic Research Projects, which are, however, rather rare for SMEs.

Strategic Transformation Grants (STS) support investments to transform an existing company. Between eight to 20 % grants are offered depend-ing on the subject matter of the transformation project.

VLAIO Baekelandt en Innovatie mandates support collaboration projects with Flemish academic research centres with a duration of one to three years. Funded projects should combine strategic basic research with an economic finality. The funding percentage depends on the size of the company and equals 50% for a large company, 60% for a medium-sized company and 70% for a small company (SE).

VLAIO FIT guides, supports and stimulates Flemish companies in doing international business. The programme provides for grants for export missions outside the EU, co-financing travel, lodging, exposition costs and alike. For setting up an office (outside the EU) a grant scheme is also available. 50% to 75% of the set-up costs up can be granted with up to 100.000 € per project.

 Fiscal optimisation for SMEs

In addition to funding programmes, a compre-hensive set of fiscal incentives is available for SMEs in Flanders. A wide variety of fiscal advantages apply for R&D projects, such as copyright advantages, R&D investment deduction, innovation deduction and exemptions for R&D personnel are made available.

 The following fiscal incentives for SMEs’ innovation projects are available:

Innovation deduction allows for a preferential tax rate of 4,4% instead of 28% for revenues resulting from innovation (including patents, software development).

Capital gains on shares are not taxed, however capital losses on shares are not deductible.

Substantial social security reductions for ‘knowledge workers’, including engineers and software developers are offered, for instance 50 to 80% reduction on social security costs.

Special advantages for investments in ‘support regions’ are available in the regions of Kempen, Limburg, Zaventem and Vilvoorde, providing up to 7,5 million € support. Those support measure can be combined with additional reductions on social security costs and taxes.

The tax-shelter system for private investments in Start-ups allows for deductions of 30% to 45% of the investment in Start-ups. Those investments are directly deductible with regard to the personal income tax for the private investor of up to 100.000 € per year.

The Flemish Accelerator Platform (VAP) is a foundation grouping a wide network of start-up experts and entrepreneurs (mainly from Belgium and the Netherlands). VAP offers individually tailored, hands on and result oriented business accelerator services to high tech starters.

Flemish Accelerator Platform

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