Before filling in an application for public aid (subsidy, financing, employment bonus, etc.), it is first of all necessary to be aware that this aid is granted by more than thirty different public institutions. The granting conditions can, therefore, vary significantly from one aid to another. The criteria can be different between two institutions! The criteria can even be different from one aid to another within a single institution. Therefore, the importance of systematically verifying the grant conditions (and reimbursement conditions !) before applying for the aid you want.
To maximise your chances of obtaining a subsidy, we've gathered the essential points to keep in mind when planning a request for public aid for your company, whether it is granted by European, federal, regional, municipal or Community institutions.
A basic principle shared by all public aids is that the conditions for granting are based on elimination. To obtain a subsidy, you must meet all of the granting conditions. If you fulfil 9 of the 10 required conditions, you will not be eligible for the allowance. There’s no point in filling out a request file.
- Some of the conditions are factual: either your company meets them, or it doesn’t. For example:
- your company’s operational headquarters are established in one of the 19 communes of the Brussels-Capital Region;
- the age of your company (date of registration with the BCE) can be a determining factor;
- your project needs to demonstrate a high innovative potential ;
- you need to integrate the concepts of the circular economy into your project;
- you must be a new employer;
On the other hand, other conditions depend on your diligence in following instructions. For example:
- not making any payments (or even a deposit!) or signing an estimate or contract before sending the file AND receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the administration ;
- complying with the submission deadlines for aid request files;
- not registering as an independent (= obtaining a business number) before collecting the documents needed to apply for aid;
- meeting minimum billing amounts;
- some aids cannot be combined and one or the other must be chosen;
- It is also important to be aware of the conditions for reimbursement. For many public aids, one of the conditions for granting is that the activity may not be stopped within a defined period (e.g.: investment premium: 5 years).
Two examples to illustrate our point
The conditions for granting vary from one institution to another. Let us take two different regional institutions as an example:
For certain grants of Brussels Economy and Employment, the entrepreneur must not make any payments (or even a deposit!) or sign an estimate before sending the file AND receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the administration.
- For certain grants of Environment Brussels, the allowance request is made after completion of the work. The request form must therefore be provided with the detailed balance invoice and proof of payment
Within a group of grants from the same institution, criteria may also differ from one grant to another. So let us look at the aid from the same institution, such as Brussels Economy and Employment:
The company project allowance: develop your idea (FR) is intended for future entrepreneurs. They must have a concrete company creation project but cannot have had independent status in the three years before the aid request is received (with the exception of student-independent status)
The consulting allowance (FR) applies to micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses with operational headquarters in the Brussels-Capital Region. In other words, this aid does not apply to companies in the process of being created, but to companies which already have a company number.
And to wrap up our key points, here are our final tips
Use our search engine (FR) to research a subsidy or financing which may be of interest to you. To quickly provide you with an overview and help you avoid having to visit and juggle multiple websites, we have collected the various public aids for (future) Brussels companies: there are more than a hundred!
- Don’t hesitate to call the Brussels entrepreneurship network! A series of support organisations can help you develop your company project, including filling out an allowance or financing application file. The details of these organisations are found in our “Who can help me?” tool.
The Brussels-Capital Region provides a range of subsidies for sustainable activities, circular projects and social enterprises. Find out more in this section.