What is a SBO project?

The Flanders Make Strategic Basic Research (SBO) concerns innovative high-risk research focused on industrially relevant topics, which, if successful, can lead to long-term application in companies in the form of a new generation of products, processes or services.

The aim of a Flanders Make SBO project is to finance Strategic Basic Research in order to shift the state-of-the-art and to achieve the objectives of the research tracks of Flanders Make's four competence cluster roadmaps.

The projects are carried out by the Flanders Make competence labs supplemented with external labs if specific expertise is needed for the success of the project.

For each SBO project, an industrial user group is set up in which the companies can participate in order to give advice and steer the research and to define small validation cases on their own industrial applications.

Helping the companies to create, as it were, a gathering place for tomorrow's technology.

Goal of a SBO project

A SBO project aims at building up new knowledge whereby companies can perform one or more so-called small validation cases during the project, which are limited case studies aimed at validating the applicability of new knowledge generated by Flanders Make to an industrial application.

Due to the greater distance from the market, a successful SBO project will in the first place result in follow-up collaborative research projects by Flanders Make and/or research and development projects with possible support from VLAIO (= Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship).

In the SBO projects, it is ensured that there are sufficient interactions between Flanders Make and the potential users of the project results, both during the preliminary phase of the SBO project (via Flanders Make cluster consortium meetings) and during the implementation phase of the SBO project.

Who is eligible?

As an industrial partner in the user group of an SBO project, both Flemish SMEs and large companies can participate. Companies located outside the Flemish region are also welcome to participate in the user group.

How can you participate?

In order to realize the research objectives of the competence cluster roadmaps of Flanders Make and to obtain a consistent portfolio of research projects, Flanders Make SBO organizes project calls.

A company can participate in an SBO project by responding to a call. It is also possible to join the user group during the course of a project.

Flanders Make invites all companies to share project ideas with Flanders Make and all ideas that may result in an SBO project are included in the relevant Flanders Make competence cluster consortia in which the SBO projects are programmed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the typical project duration of SBO projects?

The typical project duration is 4 years.

How does the user group work and how can you join?

The user group of an SBO project consists of the companies that are interested in the research and can apply the results in their industrial environment.

The user group acts as an advisory group for the Flanders Make research and as a sounding board to explore the possibilities of implementing the project results through so-called small validation cases aimed at validating a tangible generic technical result of the SBO project. A proven applicability of the results can lead to further industrial exploitation in the short or long term.

In addition, the companies in the user group also supervise the broader valorization plan of the project.

The Flanders Make project coordinator convenes the user group (at least) twice a year and each company in the user group ensures that sufficient time and effort is devoted to fulfilling its role in the user group.

If you want to join the user group of an SBO project, please contact an account manager of Flanders Make or the project coordinator who will go through the necessary steps to join.

Between Flanders Make and the companies in the user group a Rules of Order is established for the user group. These Rules of Procedure define the modalities for the organization and objectives of the user group, as well as the rules concerning the protection of confidential information and intellectual property.

What is the financial contribution to the user group?

The companies that participate in the user group of an SBO project pay a one-off fee to Flanders Make. The amount of the fee depends on the category to which the company belongs and is as follows:

  • Small and medium-sized (SME) companies: € 1000 excl. VAT per SBO project
  • Large companies: € 4000 excl. VAT per SBO project

The contribution is invoiced by Flanders Make in the first year of participation.

Companies that are a paying member of a Flanders Make competency cluster relevant to the project at the beginning of a project year receive a 50% discount on the contribution. If a company joins after project submission, a surcharge x1.5 (after project submission) and x2 (after mid-term evaluation) will apply

What is a small validation case?

A small validation case is a limited study for a company in the user group that aims to validate a tangible generic technical result of the SBO project. A proven applicability of the results can lead to further industrial exploitation in the short or long term.

For the execution of a small validation case, a collaboration agreement is concluded between Flanders Make's research group involved and the company.

Criteria for small validation cases:

  • clear involvement of a company from the user group;
  • clear case description that refers to the technical results from the SBO project that will be validated;
  • clear description of the industrial case;
  • short explanation why positive validation of the SBO technical project result will lead to industrial use;
  • short work plan.

Non-confidential information from the results of the small validation cases is shared with the members of the user group of the SBO project.

What about Intellectual Property?

Flanders Make is the owner of the research results in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Order for the user group and may pursue and publish intellectual property rights.

Unless otherwise stated in a separate cooperation agreement for small validation cases, the participant in the user group does not acquire any ownership rights to the intellectual property generated in the SBO project.

However, there is an option to negotiate a limited exclusive license whereby each research institution grants the company an option, valid for a period of 6 months after full disclosure of the Foreground to the company, to negotiate an exclusive license at market price to exploit the Foreground and a non-exclusive license at market price for the Background. Such licenses will be limited to the scope of use and may, with respect to Foreground, be co-exclusive in the event that two or more companies with validation cases in the same field exercise an option, and reserves the right to use this Foreground for internal research and training purposes.

Despite the fact that the participants in the user group are preferred partners to implement the research results in the business activities, Flanders Make will try to maximize the commercialization of the research results by interacting with the largest possible group of interested companies.

The research results are available to all companies on an equal and non-discriminatory basis and rights to the research results are only granted on the basis of a formal written agreement between the parties involved. Compensation should be paid according to normal market conditions which are the same for all companies within the EU, including members of the user group.


Do you want to join a SBO project? Download all documents here.

Contact us

Do you still have questions regarding our Strategic Basic Research? Please let uw know!