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 € 60 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.
  • 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 this call: ̴€ 60 M (of which 3.75 M€ is earmarked for SBO proposals in the context of ERA-net)
  • Call open: April, 2019
  • 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 20 at 5 PM
  • Deadline submission final project proposal by the main applicant: October 11, 2019 at 5 PM
  • Announcement of results: May 2020
  • Start date of the project: 1 October 2020
  • Success rate previous call: 18,5%

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 20, 2019 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. 3).
  • Your host institution submits your proposal to FWO via the e-portal by October 11, 2019 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 13, 2020 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:
  • The FWO board of directors decides on the support, within the available SBO resources, during its meeting in May 2020.
  • Subsequently, you will receive feedback on the decision.
  • Start date of the project: 1 October 2020

Important changes compared to the previous call

  • Declarations of intent of the applicants have to be submitted together with the submission of the project proposal.
  • In addition to a consensus score for the (sub)criteria, SBO expert panel also awards a overall appreciation score (A, B, C) to the non-funded project proposal, which may have consequences on the permission to resubmit the proposal within the subsequent SBO call. More information is available in the manual for applicants.

Support of potential applicants

Potential applicants may request an exploratory discussion with the FWO staff until the 1st of July. Please send an e-mail to including a short abstract (max. 1 A4 page). The applicants should also provide a number of possible dates 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.

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