SBO (Strategic Basic Research) projects


The Strategic Basic Research (SBO) programme focuses on innovative research which, if scientifically successful, will create prospects for economic or societal applications (e.g., a new generation of products, processes and/or services).

The SBO programme breaks down into two finality parts: an economic programme part for projects with primarily an economic finality and a societal programme part for projects with primarily a societal finality.

The available budget for the 2017 SBO call is about € 40 M. 2/3 of this budget is reserved for projects with an economic finality and 1/3 for projects with a societal finality.


  • Project period: 4 years. With justification, a shorter project period is acceptable.
  • Start of project: January 1, 2018
  • Eligible organizations: research institutions (such as universities, university colleges, strategic research centers)
    • max. 20% of the budget may be earmarked for non-Flemish research institutions
    • IMEC, VITO, VIB, Flanders’ Make, VLIZ, Flemish university colleges (‘hogescholen’) and Flemish scientific institutions with a government grant are obliged to submit the proposal together with at least one other Flemish research institution
  • Acceptable costs:
    • Research staffing, operation, equipment, subcontracting contracts (in accordance with cost model rules)
    • max. € 500,000/year per participating legal entity with a share of at least 15% of the project budget
    • guideline with regard to the magnitude of the project budget: about € 2 M
  • Funding percentage: 100%
  • Available budget for 2017 call:   ̴€ 40 M (of which 2 M€ is earmarked for SBO proposals in the context of ERA-net)
  • Call closed
  • Announcement of results: December 2017
  • Success rate 2016: 23%

Profile and conditions

  • As a team of researchers, you wish, in close dialogue with potential economic and/or societal actors, to conduct innovative research that creates prospects for new economic or societal applications. For this purpose, the applicants are obliged to install an advisory committee consisting of potential economic or societal users (exception: for projects aiming at the creation of a spin-off company an advisory committee is optional).
  • To accomplish this research, you need bench fees, equipment and personnel grants.
  • The organization(s) to which you belong meet(s) the definition of a research organization.
  • The project partners are the owners of the obtained scientific results.
  • Transfer of intellectual property rights of the scientific results to an economic actor must be done at market-compliant conditions.


  • As supervisor of the project, you prepare your proposal via the FWO e-portal and transfer your proposal in preparation to your host institution (=main applicant of the proposal ) through the FWO e-portal by April 25, 2017 at 5 PM.

This preliminary application should contain at least the following information: 1) full composition of the project consortium; 2) summary of scientific & valorization goals and 3) experts to be avoided (max. 5). If some mandatory parts requested for the full proposal are not finalized by the time of preliminary submission, an empty PDF may be uploaded at the time of transfer. Please contact the research coordination office of your research institution for internal deadlines and practicalities.

  • Your host institution submits your proposal to FWO via the e-portal by  May 19, 2017 at 5PM.
  • You e-mail the term sheet for the cooperation agreement to FWO ( before September 1, 2017 at 5PM (if applicable; see manual).
  • Your application is submitted to a number of international experts.
  • You receive the reports from the international reviewers on September 1, 2017 and you have 5 working days to provide your feedback.
  • Based on the expert recommendations and the written feedback from the applicants, the FWO staff prepares the reporting to the SBO (economic and societal) steering committees. FWO is supported by staff of the Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship ( for this.
  • The steering committees issue their advice on the project applications and translate their review into a score concerning the scientific quality as well as the economic/societal impact of the proposals. Moreover, they propose a ranking of the project applications.
  • The FWO board of directors decides on the support, within the available SBO resources, during its meeting in December 2017.
  • Subsequently, you will receive feedback on the decision.

Important changes compared to the previous call

  • Project proposals have to be submitted via the FWO e-portal.
  • Fixed project start date (January 1, 2018).
  • To allow a proper support by the technology transfer offices of the host institutions and to ensure a smooth start-up of the evaluation procedure, applicants should transfer a preliminary version of the proposal via the FWO e-portal to the host institution by April 25, 2017. On this date, the application in preparation must contain at least the following information: members of the project consortium, concrete summary of the scientific and valorization objectives and experts to challenge.
  • The declaration of intent of the members of the supervisory committee will be transferred to the external experts and should therefore be included in the final project application at the time of submission. Given the international profile of the external referees these letters should preferentially be written in English.
  • The Excel file with the details of the requested budget will be transferred to the external experts.

Support of potential applicants

Potential applicants may request an exploratory discussion with the FWO staff. Such an interview takes about 1 hour. Please send an e-mail to including a short abstract the key questions (max. 1 A4 page). The applicants should also provide a number of possible dates when this exploratory interview could take place at the FWO offices.

Regulations and downloads


For questions with regard to the modalities of the SBO programme, please contact

Questions regarding the functionality of the e-portal should be addressed to Alternatively, the helpdesk for the e-portal can also be contacted by phone on the number 0800 23326 (during working days from 09:00 until 17:00).