5 May 2022

The policy paper Economy, Science Policy and Innovation 2019-2024 foresees an important role for the bioeconomy in the transition to a circular economy. Here, renewable raw materials, biogas and biomass are sustainably produced and (re)used for a wide range of applications. In April 2022 it was announced that Flander’s Bio-Economy Policy Plan is expanding and receives 10 million euro from the Recovery and Resilience Plan, funded by NEXT Generation EU

The national recovery and resilience plan 

Next Generation EU (NGEU) is a temporary recovery instrument to help repair the immediate economic and social damage brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is the centerpiece of NGEU with loans and grants available to support reforms and investments undertaken by EU countries. 

To access NGEU funds, each Member State is required to develop a National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), setting out a coherent package of reforms and investment for the period 2021-26. 

The measures included in the Belgian RRP are part of a set of broader initiatives by the various governments of the country, which they complement, consolidate or continue. As such, the Flemish government has its individual RRP funding the Bio-Economy Policy Plan.  

A region strategy for bioeconomy

The EWI Department is responsible for preparing, monitoring, evaluating and reporting on public policy in the field of enterprise, science and innovation. The report on the Flemish bioeconomy unfolds a story of sustainable growth: in 2013, Flanders was one of the first European regions to launch its own regional bioeconomy strategy. With today’s update, this new brochure highlights local strengths that make Flanders a European top region in terms of bioeconomy and its importance to receive further financing through the Recovery and Resilience Plan. 

The bioeconomy strategy focusses on 5 different topics

  1. Innovation and collaboration 
  2. Financial stimuli 
  3. Pilot projects infrastructure 
  4. Knowledge and talent 
  5. Logistics and world-class ports 

The main clusters in the sector

The long-term approach to various strategic areas for Flanders is powered by spearhead clusters. These industry-driven organisations stimulate innovation through cooperation and allocate resources to companies. Both local and international companies can also count on public resources for financial support. Within the bioeconomic sector, the following clusters are found: 

  1. Chemicals and plastics 
  2. Agri-food 
  3. Marine and maritime 

The importance of investing in R&D

By 2030, Flanders aims to be one of the top bioeconomic regions in Europe, and investing in R&D will help achieve that goal. The regional government uses this sector as a unique gateway to numerous benefits, from resource efficiency to job creation. Which is the reason additional financing of the strategic plan has followed in 2022. Part of the financial support of the sector comes through grants and subsidies, while the R&D-friendly tax system allows companies to recover parts of their investments. But how is Research and Development affecting the Bioeconomic Strategic Plan? 

1.- Innovation support 

By investing in innovation, it leads to the development and scaling up of new products, services, business process, or policy reforms that are more cost-effective than current practice and targeted at improving the sector at broad. Here, a difference can be made between research projects and development projects

2.- Strategic transformation projects 

Planning a commercial investment or training effort for strategic purposes can lead to financing for both SME’s and large enterprises 

  • Up to EUR 1 million (max. 10% for investments, max. 25% for training). 

3.- Ecological investments 

The Green Transition is a priority for the Flemish government. Investments in eco-friendly projects are eligible for financial support through two programmes:  

  • Ecology Premium+: For projects targeting environmental technologies, energy technologies and renewable energy.  
  • Strategic Ecology Support (STRES): Intended for projects that contribute to global environmental or energy solutions, focus on closed circuits or feature process-integrated solutions. 

4.- Doctoral scholarships 

For a period of 4 years, companies can take on one or more PhD students. The research project they’ll be working on needs to have clear economic objectives and should offer added value to the company involved in the project. The funding is meant to cover salary costs, operational costs, equipment and fixed costs. 

5.- Tax incentives 

Giving direct benefits to a subset of taxpayers encouraging companies to invest and develop, these government benefits include, but are not limited to:  

6.- Financial consultancies 

Offering financing solutions throughout a company’s development cycle, FI Group wants to support you in understanding and intercepting the available R&D+I opportunities. Our experts are at your disposal to analyse your project and to take the next steps together with you. 

7.- European programmes 

Flanders is one of the key players in the broader European context, guiding companies toward beneficial R&D and cluster programmes, incentives and investment funds such as Horizon 2020, EUREKA, INTERREG, … 

International network 

Flanders has various international seaports with a broad network, well-connected railways, innovative pipelines and numerous inland waterways. For bioeconomy, 3 ports play a key role

FI Group has 20 years of experience and wants to accompany you on the new NextGenerationEU path. Our experts are at your disposal to analyse how your project fits into the NextGenerationEU European recovery fund and to take the next steps together with you. 

Yvette Poumpalova

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