In addition to a number of supporting measures such as easing conditions for temporary unemployment in case of force majeure or for economic reasons, governmental guarantees for loans and initiatives to alleviate undesirable tax burden, regional governments are also granting a number of cash incentives to financially support businesses in dealing with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The below overview provides an update on these temporary measures introduced by the different Belgian regional authorities as well as COVID-19 related cash grant schemes launched in a European context.
A. Flanders region
1. Corona nuisance premium
Companies and self-employed individuals in the Flemish Region who are forced to close their business completely/only in weekends because of the Coronavirus measures.
- Companies affected by complete closure receive a one-off premium of € 4,000.
- There is a one-off premium of € 2,000 for companies that have to close on weekends.
- If the closure continues after April 4, 2020 a compensation of € 160/day will be given for each mandatory closing day that coincides with a normal opening day
One premium is granted per establishment affected insofar as at least one full-time staff is employed in each location. The number of premiums is limited to a maximum of five per company registration number. In the catering sector, compulsory closing of the dining area is sufficient to benefit from the premium, even if takeaway services are organized.
Applications must be submitted online within one month after the mandatory closure has ended in the online application portal of the Flemish Innovation & Entrepreneurship Agency (VLAIO).
2. Extension of VLAIO-subsidy reporting deadlines
(Versoepeling termijnen VLAIO-subsidies)
VLAIO-subsidy beneficiaries with ongoing projects
Beneficiaries who, as a result of the crisis, find it difficult to meet the project and reporting deadlines provided for one of the grants below, will be granted flexibility in extending these deadlines. For more information and extension requests, the VLAIO case handler is to be contacted.
The eligible VLAIO-subsidies for such an extension are: Baekeland mandates, Ecology premium plus, ICON-projects (interdisciplinary cooperative research): demand-driven cooperative research, Thematic ICON-projects Innovation mandates (IM), Research projects, Development projects, Strategic ecology support (STRES) and Strategic transformation support (STS).
3. SME Growth Subsidy (Coronavirus)
(KMO-Groeisubsidie – Coronavirus)
Flemish SMEs at a critical juncture because of the Coronavirus.
The SME Growth Subsidy is a subsidy intended to help attract missing strategic knowledge/expertise within SMEs that is required to establish new growth. The measure has been extended to include strategic tipping points because of the Coronavirus (for example: to explore new markets, change the supply chain process, …). The aid percentage amounts to 50% of the cost of hiring external advice/the labour cost of a strategic recruitment with a total maximum subsidy of €50,000 (25,000 for advice and/or 25,000 for the recruited employee).
B. Walloon Region
Wallonia’s government decided to compensate businesses affected by the lockdown and help offset the effects of the crisis. It was agreed to set up an extraordinary solidarity fund of 350 million with 233 million euros of support for SMEs and the self-employed in the sectors affected by the crisis, through lump sum compensation.
All sectors and activities that have been closed or, in the case of events, cancelled.
The main sectors concerned are hotels, guest houses, restaurants, cafes, bars, travel and booking agencies, retailers and service providers such as beauticians.
- €5,000 lump sum compensation
- Businesses whose activities have been curtailed by the lockdown, such as barbershops, will receive 2,500 euros in compensation.
A platform will be set up by March 27 at the latest for applications to be submitted. Payments will take place as from April.
C. Brussels Region
The Government of the Brussels-Capital Region has released 150 million euros in total to support businesses in difficulty in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic, including by means of lump sum compensation to affected companies.
Businesses that are forced to temporarily close because of the Coronavirus measures in the following sectors: food and beverage, lodging, travel and related activities, retail, and recreational and sports activities.
- One-off lump sum compensation of €4,000
- One-off lump sum compensation of €2,000 for barbershops
This measure was approved by the Brussels Government on March 19. There is no information available on the practical implantation of it at this point.
D. EU Initiatives
1. Innovative Medicines Initiative
Proposals will be assessed by independent experts, and the funding will go to the consortia with the highest scores. Applicants who want to score well will need to demonstrate their ability to develop tests and/or treatments for COVID-19, and maximize the added value of the IMI2 public-private partnership by including contributing partners (e.g. EFPIA companies and/or IMI2 Associated Partner(s)) in their consortium.
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) launched a fast-track call for proposals on the development of therapeutics and diagnostics to tackle current and future coronavirus outbreaks addressing:
- the development of treatments to rapidly respond to the current COVID-19 outbreak and/or future coronavirus outbreaks – this could include potential drugs that are already at a very advanced stage of development, or an existing, approved drug that could be ‘repurposed’ to treat COVID-19. It could also include drugs that are in the earlier stages of development, as well as strategies to address drug resistance;
- the development of diagnostic tests to rapidly and reliably identify people infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and for use in clinical trials of new drugs.
The call with a budget of € 45 million has a deadline of March 31.
2. EIC Accelerator
The European Commission is calling on innovators – whether they be startups or ‘regular’ SMEs – to apply for fast-track funding from the European Innovation Council Accelerator program in an effort to combat COVID-19.
The Commission has set aside a budget of €164 million in what it refers to as a “bottom-up call” for companies to submit technological innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak.
This fast-track call has a deadline of March 20. It is to be awaited if future EIC Accelerator calls will also have a Corona-related scope.