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SBO (Strategic Basic Research) projects

The SBO programme focuses on basic research in close consultation with practitioners to generate scientific results that can address economic and/or societal needs.

Status

Duration

Announcement of results

Objective

The SBO (Strategic Basic Research) funding programme aims to turn scientific ideas into innovation. It therefore focuses on innovative research which, if scientifically successful, offers the prospect of subsequent economic or societal applications (in the form of a new generation of products, processes and/or services).

The term “strategic” refers to the problem-driven and application-oriented orientation of the programme to address a specific economic and/or societal need or problem. The term “basic research” refers to the need to generate internationally innovative knowledge in order to achieve the intended application, whereby the risk of failure is significantly higher than is usual in applied research. The difference with curiosity-driven (fundamental) research lies in the fact that knowledge generation as such (i.e. the acquisition of new knowledge without any concrete practical application or prospect of use) is not the objective of this funding programme.

The SBO programme is divided into two areas of application: an economic part for projects with a primarily economic objective and a societal part for projects with a societal objective. If successful, research results are mainly intended to be used by economic actors, the economic programme will be used. If, on the other hand, social stakeholders are mainly involved, the social programme component is the obvious choice.

Successful SBO projects are characterized by a project definition and approach that the research consortium develops together with stakeholders from the intended value chain. These stakeholders commit to the sustainable implementation of successful outcomes.

Important dates

Procedure Date
Call Opening Monday, May 20, 2024
Pre-registration Friday, September 13, 2024, 5pm
Final Submission Friday, September 27, 2024, 5pm
Start Rebuttal Wednesday, January 8, 2025, 10am
End of Rebuttal Thursday, January 16, 2025, 11:59pm
Results Announcement End of May 2025

Features

  • Project period: 4 years. With justification, a shorter project period is acceptable.
  • Eligible organizations: research institutions (such as universities, university colleges, strategic research centers)
    • A maximum of 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)
    • Maximally € 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 of the acceptable cost: 100%
  • Available budget for this call (overhead included): € 40 M (of which 2.5 M€ is earmarked for SBO-E proposals in the context of ERA-net)
  • Call open: May 20, 2024
  • 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 13, 2024 at 5 PM
  • Deadline submission final project proposal by the main applicant: September 27, 2024 at 5 PM. Since the projects are submitted by the host institutions, internal submission deadlines tend to differ. Please contact the responsible services at the supervisor's host institution.
  • Announcement of results: end of May 2025

Profile applicants 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.

Procedure

  • As supervisor of the project, you are responsible for preparing your proposal via the FWO e-portal and transfer your pre-proposal to your host institution (=main applicant of the proposal) through the FWO e-portal by Friday, September 13, 2024 at 5 PM.
    • This pre-proposal should contain at least the following information 1) project title and duration (“General” tab), 2) non-confidential summary and detailed scientific and valorisation innovation objectives (“Summary” tab), 3) full composition of the project consortium (“Applicants” tab), 4) specification of the research topic, selection of the thematic SBO expert panel and experts to be avoided (optional, max. 3) (“Peer Review” tab). In addition, consent should be given by accepting the declaration (“Consent” tab).
  • Your host institution submits your full proposal to FWO via the e-portal by Friday, September 27, 2024 at 5 PM. Please contact the research coordination office and/or Tech Transfer 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 Wednesday, January 8, 2025 and you have 7 working days to rebut. This is done via an invitation e-mail to the supervisor, as well as via a notification in the e-portal. It is important to check whether the invitation message from the FWO has not ended up in a spam folder. If you did not receive a message by January 8, 2025, you must inform the FWO at your earliest convenience.
  • The project application, expert recommendations and the written feedback from the applicants is subject to a two stage internal peer review procedure: i) 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. ii) The steering committees (economic and societal part) act as meta-review panels for all projects within their finality. They propose the ranking of the project applications.
  • The FWO board of trustees decides on the support, within the available SBO resources, during its meeting in May 2025.
  • Subsequently, you will receive feedback on the decision and its rationale.

How to apply?

As supervisor of the project, you are responsible for preparing your proposal via the FWO e-portal and transfer your pre-proposal to your host institution (=main applicant of the proposal) through the FWO e-portal by Friday, September 13, 2024 at 5 PM.

Support of potential applicants

Potential applicants may request an exploratory (online) discussion with the FWO staff. Please send an e-mail to sbo@fwo.be including a short abstract (max. 1 page A4). 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.

Contact

For questions with regard to the modalities of the SBO programme, please contact sbo@fwo.be.

Support for ongoing SBO projects

Recipients of an SBO grant may find  a listing of practical and administrative information regarding the grant agreement, the reporting as well as other aspects related to the implementation and follow-up of their SBO project, here.