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.