ICON projects are cooperation projects between companies and research organisations, coupling industrial R&D with strategic basic research.
ICON projects (Interdisciplinary Cooperative Research) are cooperation projects between companies and research organisations, coupling the industrial R&D of the companies with the strategic basic research of the knowledge organisations within a single project.

The main purposes of the ICON project type are:
- to better align the research agenda at research organisations with the needs of the industry;
- to stimulate industry to engage in challenging R&D;
- to stimulate the cooperation between companies on R&D&I;
- to promote multi-disciplinary R&D.

In the current setup, at least 3 enterprises should take part in the project and the budget of the industrial R&D part should be at least half of the total project budget. The funding of these ICON projects is a combination of the Flemish programmes for industrial innovation at FIE and support to research organisations.

The Intellectual Property (IP)-rights remain with the partners that generated the results, and valorisation by companies of the results of research organisations is possible under the provisions of the European state aid regulations (transfer of rights at market price).
If these characteristics are fulfilled, ICON projects provide the following funding advantages as compared to the regular collaborative research programmes:
- increased funding level for the research organisations;
- increased funding level for the companies, in case of an "effective collaboration" among them (cf. GBER).

Resources needed

Flanders (2009-2015):
- research organisations: no figures available
- industrial innovation: 70 M €
Account management by government: typically 0.5 to 1 FTE.

Evidence of success

- Industrial R&D part is of lower TRL and higher risk than in regular funding programmes.
- Funding support to SMEs and young companies (< 10 y) is significantly larger than in regular funding programmes.
- The regular funding programmes are not significantly affected on collaboration with research organisations and collaboration between companies (no substitution effects).
- For SRC Flanders Make: 24 projects started, with the active participation 52 unique companies (20 SMEs).

Potential for learning or transfer

The ICON project has a very multi-disciplinary approach: provide a framework where different stakeholders along the value chain, with complementary skills and knowledge, can work together and develop new knowledge to the benefit of the NMP-sector.

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Main institution
Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Belgium (Belgique-België)
Start Date
January 2009
End Date


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