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Proof-of-concept funding


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 4.55% (as of 1 January 2021). The EU-reference percentage is variable and is set by the European Commission.

Target groups

Both startups and established businesses can benefit from the Proof-of-concept funding. Proof-of-concept funding is aimed at three target groups:

  • SMEs
  • innovative startups (5 years old or newer)
  • 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 2021, 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 4 January up to and including 9 March 2021.


SMEs and innovative startups can submit an application from 1 January up to and including 31 December 2021, 17:00 CET.

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.

Quick scan

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.


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.