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 this SBO call is circa € 38 M.


  • Project period: 4 years. With justification, a shorter project period is acceptable.
  • Eligible organizations: research institutions (such as universities, university colleges, strategic research centers)
    • 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)
    • € 500,000/year (overhead included), corresponding to € 425,000 excluding overhead; per project 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 € 1.7 M excluding overhead
  • Funding percentage: 100%
  • Available budget for this call (overhead included):  ̴€ 38 M (of which 2.5 M€ is earmarked for SBO-E proposals in the context of ERA-net)
  • Call open: May 10th, 2021
  • Submission of applications through the FWO e-portal
  • Deadline transfer of the proposal in preparation from project supervisor to the ‘host institution of the supervisor’ (=main applicant): September 15, 2021 at 5 PM
  • Deadline submission final project proposal by the main applicant: October 1, 2021 at 5 PM
  • Announcement of results: May 2022

The results of projects under evaluation (call 2020) will be announced on May 27, 2021. These projects will start on October 1, 2021

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 September 15, 2021 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 (optional, max. 3).

  • Your host institution submits your proposal to FWO via the e-portal by October 1, 2021 at 5 PM. 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 Monday, January 10, 2022 and you have 7 working days to rebut.
  • 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 basis 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 May 2022.
  • Subsequently, you will receive feedback on the decision and its rationale.

Support of potential applicants

Potential applicants may request an exploratory discussion with the FWO staff. Please send an e-mail to including a short abstract (max. 1 A4 page). The applicants should also provide a number of possible dates (day and desirable hour) when this exploratory interview could take place. The information that is provided during this meeting should be interpreted as non-binding advice and no rights can be derived from this information. 

Given the coronavirus and the related restrictive measures, an exploratory discussion will – until further notice –be organized using video conferencing.

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