European Regional Development Fund – ERDF

subsidie efro

The European Fund for Regional Development (ERDF) is intended to support the (regional) economy. It contributes to the improvement of the competitive position, economic growth, increased quality of life, and more sustainable development in Europe. In the Netherlands, the EFRO focuses on improving regional competitive positions and increasing employment opportunities.

Target audiences and objectives

The investments of the programme focus on several priority fields. For the Netherlands, these are

  • Innovation and research
  • The low-carbon economy

The Netherlands has established four operational EFRO programmes (OPs), each linked to a Dutch region. The four operational programmes focus on promoting innovation amongst SMEs and developments within the low-carbon economy. Each region has control over its own part of the budget and the management authorities have the option of gradually open the programme to applications and divide the budget based on tenders or on a “first come, first served” basis with variable funding percentages (± 35%).

The main target group of the four OPs are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Knowledge institutions and social organisations are also eligible.

It is important that there is cooperation in a regional context and that the objective of the applicant(s) and the innovation is in line with the policy objectives and the RIS3 (Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation). Financing is always a combination of funding provided by EFRO, the provinces, the Dutch government, and the project partners themselves.


Since last year, the OPs received additional funding through the REACT-EU funds, intended for crisis recovery in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and its far-reaching economic and social consequences, with as its focus a green, digital, and resilient recovery of the economy. This money is awarded via the four OPs.


OP-Noord covers the northern provinces of Drenthe, Friesland, and Groningen, and the municipalities of Assen, Emmen, Leeuwarden, and Groningen. The programme is implemented by Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland (SNN). 


Programme 2021-2027

The new programme for the period 2021-2027 is currently being approved by the European Commission. It is expected that the first calls will be announced in the spring of 2022.

The transitions to a circular economy, sustainable energy, positive health, and digitalisation will be leading for the new programme, whilst economic and social progress will be considered in their interaction as much as possible. The following priorities will be guiding for the new programme:

  • Increasing the capacity of SMEs to innovate. Compared to previous years, there is less focus on individual innovation projects and more on increasing the group of innovative companies in the northern Netherlands.
  • Removing obstacles to innovation within companies by investing in innovative entrepreneurship, human capital, digitalisation, and interregional cooperation.
  • Cooperation amongst companies, as well as between companies, knowledge institutions, governments, and social organisations.


OP-Zuid covers the southern provinces Limburg, Noord-Brabant, and Zeeland. It is implemented and managed by Stimulus Programme Management. 


Programme 2021-2027

The new programme for the period 2021-2027 has not yet been published. It is expected to become available in the first three months of 2022. The following priorities will be leading for the new programme:

  • Creating new job opportunities;
  • Developing technically innovative projects;
  • Reducing carbon emissions.

In addition, five themes have been prioritised, namely: energy; climate; raw materials; agriculture & food; and health.

The total budget for OP-Zuid 2021-2027 is estimated at € 312 million, of which € 110 million is funded by the ERDF. For 2022, this represents a total budget of € 30 million.


OP-Oost covers the eastern provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel.


Programme 2021-2027

The programme for the period 2021-2027 is expected to open for applications around April 2022. The following two priorities will be leading for the new programme:

  • Innovation: innovative, smart, and economic transformation by strengthening the research and innovation capacity of SMEs and deploying advanced technologies through collaboration between businesses, knowledge institutions, and civil society organisations.
  • Becoming green: innovation, demonstration, and take-up of smart solutions in the energy transition.

The new OP-Oost budget is estimated at € 125 million, of which € 81 million comes from EFRO, € 23 million from the Dutch government, and € 21 million is provided by the provinces.


Whilst the rest of the programme is yet to be published, since 15 December, it is possible to apply for a new REACT-EU call. Two types of projects are eligible for this programme, namely development projects and so-called ‘shared facilities’. Per group, there are the following focus points:

Development projects:

  • Experimental development TRL 5 to 8;
  • Investment in technologies for environmental protection; production and distribution of renewable energy sources, energy storage, energy efficiency and use of renewable energy in industry, public buildings and housing; reduction or re-use of raw materials and minerals; or replacement of raw materials with bio-based alternatives.

Shared facilities:

  • Strengthening of the economic structure through targeted investment in shared facilities aimed at enabling SMEs to test, develop, and scale up innovative ideas and products in an accessible way.

Projects can receive a minimum of € 600,000 and a maximum of € 5,000,000 subsidy, with a financing rate of 70% of total project costs. A total of € 32 million is available for development projects (€ 19.5 million for Gelderland; € 12.5 million for Overijssel) and € 20 million for shared facilities (€ 13 million for Gelderland; € 7 million for Overijssel).

The deadline for submissions is 15 February 2022.

OP-West (Opportunities for West II)

OP-West is intended for the western provinces of North and South Holland, Utrecht, and Flevoland, and the four major cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. The programme also has its own name: Opportunities for West III (‘Kansen voor West’, in Dutch).

Programme 2022-2029

The new Opportunities for West III programme will be published on 20 April. The various calls that will be published over this period will relate to the following themes:

  • Innovation;
  • Energy efficiency;
  • Renewable energy;
  • Energy systems;
  • Circular economy; and
  • Sustainable urban development.

The total budget is €237 million, of which €200 million is funded by ERDF and €37 million by the Dutch state. The first call is expected to be published on 1 June 2022.

Incentive Programmes

The Opportunities for West II programme has various financing instruments. At the moment, several small vouchers (varying from € 5000 – € 50,000) are available for SMEs. The Incentive Scheme for Biobased Industries provides an impulse for SMEs or mid-caps that have a knowledge question for knowledge partners DSM , TU Delft, and CE Delft pertaining to the techno-economic bottlenecks of a biobased business case (deadline 30 June 2023). Whilst, the Incentive Scheme Smart Industry is intended for SMEs in the manufacturing (maintenance) industry who want to gain insight into the possible digitisation applications in the manufacturing process or to develop such applications (deadline 31 December 2022).

Last year, Opportunities for West II launched a few calls pertaining especially to REACT-EU. These have already been awarded, and at the moment no extra budget is available. However, it is possible that the programme will be given a new financial incentive over the coming year. We will keep you updated via our website and social media channels. 

Would You Like to Know More?

Do you have an SME, knowledge institute, or social organisation that wants to cooperate and invest in (technological) innovation? Then the EFRO OPs may offer new possibilities, also in 2022. Please feel free to contact us to explore the options.

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