BEL-SME was created following a request to research funding institutions by the Ministers in charge of Scientific Research with a view to creating synergies and promote intra-Belgian collaboration.
Therefore, Innoviris, the DGO6 of the Walloia Public Service and the Agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen (ex-IWT) worked together to send a clear signal to Belgian SMEs by promoting collaboration between companies from different Belgian regions.
This work led to the development of the BEL-SME programme, an instrument which encourages the development of joint R&D projects between Belgian companies. For the beneficiaries, an effective collaboration between partners will be rewarded by a maximum increase of 15% compared to normal intervention rates.
In real terms, the initiative is based on the following principles:
- A joint call for projects by Agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen, DG06 and Innoviris for trans-regional R&D projects from SMEs
- Funding institutions organise a centralised consultation process with regard to the projects to be financed, but maintain decentralised evaluation and funding.
BEL-SME supports collaboration projects between Belgian SMEs established in different regions and encourages the pooling of expertise to the benefit of those enterprises. However it is based on the existing regional funding schemes. Therefore, each partner is asked to submit its individual work plan (sub-project) to its regional funding agency, and a very short “umbrella” form must be sent to describe the collaboration and the joint character of the global project.
Projects will be evaluated by the funding agencies of each involved partner but a joint decision will be taken.