A project goes through several stages, from idea to complete project application. In each stage, a number of criteria are used to assess to what extent the project is compatible with the cluster strategy and sufficiently mature for further development. The procedure makes it possible to guide the projects towards the best funding channel and improve the quality so as to increase the chance of success in receiving a subsidy. Projects making use of other funding channels and contributing to the roadmaps can also rely on assistance from Blue Cluster.

Project funding

The eligibility of the project for the earmarked resources of Blue Cluster is already determined in the project idea stage. The criteria that need to be met are the following: compatibility with the roadmaps, composition of the consortium and compatibility with the cluster’s set of tools. 

Not all projects will be developed further as a cluster project because they are non-collaborative or because other funding channels are more suitable. The cluster will guide the projects towards the best funding channel (e.g. conventional VLAIO projects, H2020, Interreg, LIFE, ERA-NET, etc.) and provide further support to the consortium. 

Process flow of projects

The submission of a 10-pager is followed by a formal procedure for a project to be considered eligible for the earmarked resources of Blue Cluster. The first stage consists of an internal procedure that enables the cluster to make a decision on the relevance and impact of the project on the blue economy. 

In case the project is given the green light, it can be further developed into a full proposal. Once the cluster has formally submitted the project to Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), the project arrives at the second stage, in which the normal procedure for innovation projects is followed. 

The final decision on the financial support for the project is made by the Hermes decision-making committee. The total time from submission of a 10-pager to approval of a project is 5 to 6 months.

Project evaluation

A project is evaluated at different points in the project cycle to ensure the quality of the cluster projects. In the first stage, an assessment is made by the cluster’s management team and advice is given by the scientific advisory board (in case of a research project) on the basis of the 10-pager. On the basis of this assessment and advice, the steering committee will then decide whether the project should enter the second stage. 

In the second stage, another evaluation of the project is conducted by external experts as well as by VLAIO (Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship). On this basis, the Hermes Committee finally decides on granting the requested support to the project.

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