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 2018 SBO call is circa € 40 M*. 2/3 of this budget is reserved for projects with an economic finality and 1/3 for projects with a societal finality.

* The exact budget will be decided in the course of 2018.


  • Project period: 4 years. With justification, a shorter project period is acceptable.
  • Start of project: January 1, 2019
  • 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 2018 call:   ̴€ 40 M ((of which 2.5 M€ is earmarked for SBO proposals in the context of ERA-net)
  • Call closed
  • Announcement of results: 19 December 2018
  • Success rate 2017: 18,3%

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 27, 2018 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, 3) choice of the research topic and thematic SBO-expert panel and 4) experts to be avoided (max. 5).

  • Your host institution submits your proposal to FWO via the e-portal by May 18, 2018 at 5PM. Please contact the research coordination office of your research institution for internal deadlines and practicalities.
  • Your application is submitted to a number of international experts.
  • You receive the reports from the international reviewers on September 3, 2018 and you have 5 working days to provide your feedback.
  • The project application, expert recommendations and the written feedback from the applicants is subject to a two stage internal peer review procedure:
    • Thematic SBO-expert panels evaluate the project applications within their scientific expertise on the base of the reports of the external referees and the rebuttal.
    • The steering committees (economic and societal part) act as meta-review panel for all projects within their finality. They propose the ranking of the project applications.
  • The FWO board of directors decides on the support, within the available SBO resources, during its meeting in December 2018.
  • Subsequently, you will receive feedback on the decision.

Important (See SBO manual for more information)

  • 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 27, 2018, 5PM.
  • The installation of thematic expert panels (internal peer review). As applicant, you select the main topic of your application within the e-portal.
  • The page limits of the project application have changed.
  • The timing of the SBO call 2019 will change: submission in autumn and decision in May/June 2020 of the following year. The exact deadlines will be communicated in due time.

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