SME Fund 2023

The SME Fund 2023 can provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the opportunity to request a partial reimbursement for costs related to intellectual property rights. This reimbursement can be granted via four types of vouchers.

Voucher 1: IP Scan

Voucher 1 can be used in connection with IP scans. IP scans are not legal advice, but identify your intellectual properties and teach you how to incorporate an IP strategy into your company’s business plan. Voucher 1 reimburses 90% of the costs of an IP scan with a total maximum reimbursable amount of EUR 1 350.

Once you have received the grant decision for voucher 1, you can contact your national intellectual property office in your country. They will then assign an IP expert to work with you on the IP scan.

An IP scan is not offered in all EU Member States under the SME Fund. Some national intellectual property offices offer similar IP pre-diagnostic services outside the scope of the SME Fund. Which national offices do and do not offer IP scans covered by the SME Fund can be consulted here. In Belgium, for example, IP scans are not eligible for refunds via voucher 1.

Voucher 2: Trademark & Design

Costs concerning trademark & design related activities can be reimbursed for up to 75%, with a maximum reimbursable amount of EUR 1 000.

A refund can be requested for the following activities:

  • 75 % reimbursement of EU trademark and/or design application fees, additional class fees, and examination, registration, publication and deferment of publication fees.
  • 75 % reimbursement of national or regional trademark and/or design application fees, additional class fees, and examination, registration, publication and deferment of publication fees.
  • 50 % reimbursement of trademark and/or design basic application fees, designation fees, and subsequent designation fees outside the EU. Designation fees originating in EU countries are excluded, as are handling fees charged by the office of origin.

Voucher 3: Patents

SMEs can receive a 75% reimbursement for costs of official fees related to filing, search and publication of a European or a national patent application or for costs of prior art searches. The maximum reimbursable amount is EUR 1 500.

Voucher 3 only pertains to European patents and national patents in the 27 Member States of the European Union. International patent applications submitted via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) are not covered under the SME Fund 2023.

A refund can be requested for the following activities:

  • 75% reimbursement of the fees for a “Prior Art Search Report”: The report, prior to a patent application, is performed worldwide and must be conducted by a national IP office of an EU Member State;
  • 75% reimbursement of patent pre-grant (filing search, and examination), grant, and publication fees for national protection in an EU Member State (such as for example, in Belgium);
  • 75% reimbursement of filing and search fees for European patents filed at the EPO. All other fees for a European Patent are excluded.

Thus, patent related fees eligible for reimbursement are official fees related to filing, search and publication. Prior art searches are also covered under the SME Fund 2023, but only when performed by a national IP office of an EU Member States.

Voucher 4: Community Plant Variety

Community Plant Variety Protection costs can be partially reimbursed by requesting voucher 4. More specifically, the online application fee for a community plant variety right (EU level) can be reimbursed for 50%. The maximum amount reimbursed is EUR 225.

Additional remarks

All vouchers only partially reimburse official fees. Fees incurred by attorneys or representatives are thus not covered under the SME Fund 2023. In addition to only reimbursing official fees, it should also be noted that the fund will not reimburse costs retroactively. All incurred costs before you are granted the relevant voucher will not be refunded.

It is also important to note that an SME can only be awarded each type of voucher once. The vouchers are independent and can be applied for at the same time or at different times. An awarded voucher is valid for 2 months (extendible by 2 months on request) and upon not using the voucher before the expiry date, you will not be able to request a refund nor apply for the same voucher again.

If you have requested a refund via your voucher, your voucher will be activated. IP scan vouchers (voucher 1) are activated directly by the EUIPO when the corresponding national IP office notifies that the service has been requested by the awarded company. For Trademark & Design vouchers (voucher 2), once activated, a 6-month implementation period applies, whereas for Patent vouchers (voucher 3) a 12-month implementation period applies, to request additional reimbursements to get the maximum use out of your vouchers. Community plant variety vouchers (voucher 4) does not require any implementation period, as the fees covered under the SME Fund only affect the online application fee.

SMEs have until December 8, 2023, to request their vouchers. Be aware that grant funds can run out and are awarded on a first come, first served basis until all available funds have been used.

Do you have any questions or want more information regarding the SME Fund 2023? Feel free to contact us at

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