Innovation and digitisation
SMEs and larger enterprises with development projects can qualify for up to 50% in support for the development of a new or improved product, process, service or concept that clearly distinguishes itself from other solutions on the market. This subsidy is intended for short-term projects that will implement these innovations within 2 to 3 years, but still have a few challenges/risks to overcome. Support applies to staffing, equipment and other project-related costs.
SME growth subsidy
SMEs that wish to change direction or to grow through, for example, the launch of a new product, a different business strategy, foreign markets, a new market segment or digitisation, can apply for an SME growth subsidy. This measure is intended to stimulate businesses to purchase or recruit the strategic knowledge they need to realise this growth. The subsidy covers 50% of the new employee’s first year of gross salary and/or 50% of costs for external advisers.
The authorities have also relaxed the requirements for ongoing projects. The European Social Fund (ESF) has decided to grant delays of intermediate or final reports for ongoing projects, as well as extensions of the project duration by the length of time that coronavirus restrictions are in force. Applications for extensions or delays of process assessments can be submitted to the ESF project manager after the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.
Furthermore, participants in Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) programmes can apply to have their terms extended up to a maximum of three months by sending an email with a solid justification to the VLAIO programme manager.
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused us all to resort to digital solutions wherever we can, both professionally and in our private lives. These provide us with the necessary resilience to keep our society and economy operational. The Flemish authorities have set up several initiatives to help businesses with their digital transformation.
Any SME making investments in specific digital payment and invoicing systems, cyber security systems or interfaces to enable online payment and security is eligible for a 13.5% investment allowance. Investments in online shops may also qualify for this higher investment allowance.
Additionally, with the support of imec and the Steering Committee for Flemish Information and ICT policy, the Flemish government has established a task force for enterprises to report digital initiatives (services, expertise or products). This task force will identify, coordinate and promote digital initiatives that enable businesses, society and government agencies to operate more efficiently.
General coronavirus support measures
Businesses that are subject to mandatory closure can apply for coronavirus nuisance compensation until 19 May 2020. This compensation consists of a lump sum of €4000 and supplementary compensation of €160 per enforced day of closure from 6 April. Each business may only claim nuisance compensation once, with a maximum of five claims for a single enterprise with multiple affected locations employing at least one full-time employee.
Businesses that are not subject to mandatory closure may still qualify for a one-off compensation of €3000 if they experience a serious decline in turnover in the period from mid-March to the end of April. This compensation can only be claimed by companies or those with side businesses with a demonstrable drop in sales of at least 60% compared to the same period last year. For those who do not pay social contributions, the compensation will amount to €1500, insofar as their main occupation constitutes less than 80% of their employment.
Employees with reduced hours can also be eligible for retention compensation if the business experienced a substantial decline of at least 20% in turnover, production or orders due to the coronavirus in the month prior to the reduction in hours. This measure applies only for the period from 1/4/2020 up to and including 30/6/2020 and cannot be used as a supplement to temporary unemployment benefits.
If you require further information about these measures, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.