/What we offer/Research/imec.icon/Frequently Asked Questions about imec.icon

Frequently Asked Questions about imec.icon

Browse our list of frequently asked questions about imec.icon and get details on partnerships, project roles, financing, subcontracting, and more.

Foreign partners

Is it possible for a foreign company or organization to participate in an imec.icon project?

Yes, foreign partners can join the consortium. See next question for more details on possible funding aspects.

Is it possible for a foreign company to apply for VLAIO funding?

No, it cannot apply for funding from the Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen (VLAIO). However, they are free to obtain funding via other ways (in their own country, EU programs like Eureka or FP,…). It should be noted that every funding authority has specific rules for approving funding and some of them may contradict imec.icon ruling. Please contact your local funding body for more details. Still it is worthwhile for a foreign partner to get involved in imec.icon even without funding, since the research groups involved in the project are funded by imec, and the IPR agreement can turn out positively for the foreign partner.

Is it possible for a foreign research institution to participate in an imec.icon project?

It is possible for a foreign research institution to participate in an imec.icon project

  • if it operates as a subcontractor for one or more companies that’s a formal project partner in an imec.icon project, or
  • if they follow the industry regime.

Project roles

The research lead, can it also be someone from a non-imec research group?

No, the research lead is from an imec research group.

Is it possible to have more than one research lead per project?

No. For practical reasons, there is only one research lead per project.

Does the project lead have to be someone from the external partners (i.e. companies)?

Yes, the PL is from one of the involved companies. However, if the project applies for VLAIO funding, the PL should be someone from these companies.


How can imec help me find the right partners?

You can contact one of the imec research groups or contact other companies in your network. There are a few specific organizations like the VLAIO front office that can help in partner search.

Is it possible for a Flemish, non-imec research group to participate in an imec.icon project?

Yes, Flemish non-imec research groups can participate in an imec.icon project and will be treated as an imec research group (i.e. the research man months will be paid for). There are however some conditions that apply:

  • The non-imec research group joins by demand of the consortium
  • The research group is from a Flemish university or any other Flemish research organization that is advancing the state of the art in its domain
  • A motivational letter is needed on why the non-imec group needs to be involved in the project
  • The cooperation has to be specified in the Collaboration Agreement

Mind: this means that the research group accepts the IP arrangements in imec.icon (a FAQ on IPR can be found here).

Can Brussels-based companies apply for VLAIO funding?

Companies located in the Brussels region need to apply for funding via Innoviris.
However, Brussels-based companies with an exploitation seat in Flanders that will do valorization in Flanders can apply for VLAIO funding.

Other SOCs (Strategische Onderzoekscentra – strategic research centers), what kind of partner are they in an imec.icon project?

Other SOCs (VIB, VITO and Flanders Make) are treated as an external partner. While they cannot obtain VLAIO funding within an imec.icon project, bilateral agreements with Flanders Make allows these research groups to participate with their own funding.

Can partners leave the project when they don't get the applied VLAIO funding?

Partners can leave the project. Depending on the project, a review of the innovation goals, the project workplan, the budget and MM table is demanded by VLAIO and imec.
The project will need a formal “go” from VLAIO and imec in order to continue.


Explain this 50/50 rule research groups versus external partners. Do you have to count in man months or in budget?

The 50/50 rule: The joint contribution of the external partners with funding (from VLAIO, Innoviris or any other funding agency) in the project should be more than the joint contribution of the research partners over the total duration and realization of the project.

The 50/50 rule applies to the total project cost (total budget for the 2 years) at full proposal phase. During the abstract phase (where the consortium only needs to give a number of MM), it is up to the consortium to answer to the best of one's knowledge.
Mind: 50% is a bare minimum; a balance of 55-70% can be interpreted as stronger commitment from the external partners. Also, this is a safer option, for instance if one of the partners drops out during project execution.

Can I incorporate costs for project management in my budget?

Yes. However, the project manager has to be directly involved in the project and cannot be a purely administrative person. The amount of effort strongly depends on the complexity of your project: more complex projects probably need more management overhead.

Every project can have a WP0 to include overall project and research management efforts. It can also contain specific tasks related to WP lead.

In the budget sheet, do companies need to fill in the net or gross salary?

This is explained in the VLAIO document on the cost model (pdf).

Content imec.icon

Is it possible to submit an imec.icon project that has a social or cultural added value, but no economic added value?

This is possible, however

  1. Partners applying for VLAIO funding need to explain their economic added value; without a sufficiently large economic lever, no VLAIO funding can be received.
  2. The social or cultural value needs to be made explicit in order to evaluate the cost/benefit of the project budget. Providing a clear rational & calculation for this in the full proposal is expected.

Full proposal

Do partners that don't apply for VLAIO funding also have to talk about their valorization in parts B and C of the full proposal?

Yes, they have to account for the fact that they're part of the project for a reason and contribute to demonstrate valorization potential of the project. 

  1. They have to clearly indicate in part A how the collaboration within the project will benefit their business (preferably focusing on the rational & including some numbers).
  2. Part C is not required for partners not applying for funding.

Steering committee (steerco)

Composition: Does the Steerco need a representative of every partner, or can they each appoint someone to be a representative?

As a rule, the Steerco has to have a representative per external partner, and a representative per research partner. They can however choose to be represented by another person (on an ad hoc basis or for the entire duration of the project).
The names of the Steerco members have to be submitted after the first kick-off meeting.
Steerco meeting can only be valid if all members are present or are duly represented by someone.

What types of decisions need to be confirmed by the Steerco?

All changes in consortium composition, budget, man months, the work plan, ...
Approval of all communication (publications, leaflets, project pages on imec.be, press releases…). Note: any changes affecting the budget or innovation goals need to be approved by imec and the relevant funding agency.

User group / user committee

What is the role of a user group?

The consortium can decide to set up a user group if this is useful to the progress of the project. The user group is a counseling committee with representatives of relevant economic and/or societal target group(s). Their task is to give advice concerning the progress of the imec.icon project and the valorization possibilities of the developed foreground.

A user group is present in the project to provide specific input, to act as a sparring partner, to validate certain results, to provide certain data, to set up requirements…

  • A user committee is not looked upon as a partner in the project and hence does not need to fill in parts B or C of the full proposal. However, it is advisable to mention the user group in your proposal (if possible already from abstract phase)
  • User committee members are not eligible for VLAIO funding through the imec.icon project
  • User committee members are not part of the IPR flow
  • Their efforts in the project do not count for the overall number of man months in the project (and hence do not count to calculate the 50/50 balance of the project) If known at proposal time, it is advised to mention the user group in the proposal documents. A user group can also be established after the start of the project (when all partners agree - a user agreement has to be set up). The collaboration has to be formalized in an agreement (template available upon request, contact your Program manager). Flow of information: content that is shared with the user group needs to be checked by the Steerco. It is up to the consortium to decide what information is shared with the user group. Likewise, it's up to the consortium to decide to give them access to (parts of) the imec Teams site and documents or not.


Subcontractor costs can be accepted as direct costs in the projects, but research activities can never be subcontracted, either in part or in full, without the prior written consent from imec.

  • Both research groups and external partners can subcontract to other parties.
  • One does not receive overhead costs (operational costs) on the part that is subcontracted.
  • Subcontracting needs to be paid 100% by the partner.
  • Use of subcontracting has to be listed in the full proposal. If however this option presents itself during the execution of the project, using a subcontractor must be approved by imec and VLAIO (contact your imec Program manager).

Subcontracting between project partners is not permitted.

The following are exempt from this obligation:

  • (a) routine tasks which are not part of the core components of the project and which are not the direct responsibility of a partner (i.e., routine tests, development of part of a prototype, part of the programming, etc.);
  • (b) the implementation of tasks by Connected Entities that are included in the proposal at the time of submission, including the specific description of the tasks;
  • (c) (individual) consultant(s) as stipulated in the proposal.

More information about subcontracting can be found in the imec.icon manual, section 4.3.

Agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen (VLAIO)

Do deliverables have to be handed in to VLAIO?

No, deliverables are not transferred to VLAIO. However, they need to be available on MyProjects so that they are accessible to all consortium partners.

Does every project need to undergo an explanation meeting, even if you don't apply for VLAIO funding?

Yes. Explanation meetings allow the funding agencies to highlight areas of the proposal that may need further clarification, in partucular with respect to valorization cases. More information can be found in the imec.icon manual section 3.2.2

What non-profit enterprises can apply for VLAIO support?

Consult the VLAIO website 

Which definition does VLAIO follow to determine whether an enterprise is an SME?

Consult the VLAIO website

When are payments from VLAIO made?

The payments are effectuated made:

  1. The Letters of Declaration have been duly signed and submitted together with the project Full Proposal, the project has effectively started and possible special project start-up conditions have been fulfilled.
  2. The Collaboration Agreement is signed, the first yearly status report (after 12 months) has been filed and  possible special project interim conditions have been fulfilled.
  3. The final report has been handed in, a closing event or closing meeting has taken place and the financial report has been checked


Does the steering committee need to approve a publication, even if the project has ended?

Yes, until 1 year after project end the publication will need approval. This approval will have to come from all project parties, to protect the interests of all parties.

For what type of publications is the steerco approval needed?

For all types of publications, including but not limited to: scientific, non-scientific, speeches, posters, leaflets, blogs, web posts, tweets, …

A researcher paid by imec but not from an imec research group publishes an article. What are the acknowledgement rules?

An acknowledgement always has to be added. Also, the affiliation has to be mentioned, regardless of whether the researcher is on the payroll on a temporary or permanent basis.

Collaboration Agreement / Letter Of Intent

Is it OK to sign the English version of the Collaboration Agreement?

No, only the Dutch version is authentic. The English version is only available for information

Is it OK to sign the English version of the Letter of Intent?


Could you explain the signing procedure of the Collaboration Agreement?

We are using DocuSign as digital signing procedure. The contract will be sent to the legal representative by email, with a link to the document on DocuSign.

Open source software

Is it OK to use open source in imec.icon projects?

It is OK to use open source software (OSS). The use of OSS can speed up research but may affect other parties’ background of foreground.
Licenses of open source can contain stipulations that are in conflict with the imec.icon Collaboration Agreement, for instance on IP, or that are detrimental to the protection of IP of other partners. The project’s Steerco needs to review the use of OSS.