Innovative products and ideas can help resolve societal issues and increase wealth.
A crucial phase in the process is the step from idea to starting up product development: creating and verifying commercial concepts, identifying suitable markets and developing the right patents (IPs as defined by Bradley et al. 2013). For innovative startups, we call this phase the proof-of-concept phase. For existing SMEs, this phase is called the innovation phase. Proof-of-concept funding is there to ensure that an idea develops from the planning phase into the startup phase.
What is Proof-of-concept funding?
Startups and SMEs can use a loan from the Proof-of-concept funding scheme to examine whether their idea is potentially feasible in the market. The loan plus the interest have to be repaid. The interest rate is 6.03% (as of 1 October 2022). The EU-reference percentage is variable and is set by the European Commission.
Both startups and established businesses can benefit from the Proof-of-concept funding. Proof-of-concept funding is aimed at three target groups:
- innovative startups (max 5 years old)
- academic, hbo (polytechnic) and TO2 innovative startups (whose economic activities directly and immediately benefit from research by a university or academic hospital)
For the period 1 January up to and including 31 December 2022, a budget of € 6 million has been set aside for Proof-of-concept funding for SMEs and innovative startups. For academic, polytechnic and TO2 start-ups there is € 2.75 million available for the period 5 January up to and including 8 March 2022.
Is your company established in one of the following provinces or will you establish your company there? If so, you must submit your application to the regional office. You should contact the regional office directly:
- Gelderland (only in Dutch)
- North Holland (only in Dutch)
- South Holland
- North Brabant (only in Dutch)
- Overijssel (only in Dutch)
Is your province not included in the above overview? Only then can you apply to the national office (Netherlands Enterprise Agency). You can apply for subsidy each year from 1 January until 31 December, 17:00 CET. Or as long as there is a budget available.
Applications are evaluated by the proof-of-concept funding advisory committee. We deal with applications in the order they are submitted and evaluate each application individually as to whether it meets the requirements. If it does, you will receive the requested loan (if there is still budget available). Our decision period is limited to a maximum of 13 weeks.
Academic, hbo and TO2 startups must submit their applications to the Technology Foundation TTW.
Do you want to determine whether your plan is eligible? Fill in the Quick scan first.
There are various conditions attached to the use of Proof-of-concept funding. Three important conditions are:
- You write a business plan showing you will grow substantially.
- You set out an innovation plan or proof-of-concept plan geared to the preconditions of the investor.
- You have a declaration of intent from the future investor, who will finance your proof-of-concept/innovation phase on the basis of you meeting the preconditions set by him. This has to at least equal the amount you receive from the government.
Proof-of-concept funding in practice
TrueKinetix radically improves indoor cycling and brings the outdoor cycling feeling indoors with their award-winning indoor training bike. They use robotics and a very powerful motor instead of traditional flywheels, allowing them to simulate the counterforce of the pedals much more naturally. Thanks to Proof-of-concept funding, TrueKinetix was able to fine-tune its business case, order the 1st tabletop model of the invention as well as hire the 1st employee. After Proof-of-concept funding, TrueKinetix also made use of the Innovation Credit which enabled them to make the 1st real bicycle. Recently, they won the prestigious CES Award. They are also expanding their sales activities abroad.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy has developed Proof-of-concept funding to help businesses in the proof-of-concept phase or the innovation phase. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Technology Foundation TTW implement this scheme. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency takes care of its implementation for SMEs and innovative startups. Technology Foundation TTW implements it for innovative academic, 'hbo' (university of professional education) and TO2 startups.
- Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy