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Software­odevelopment & WBSO

Afbeelding met computerscherm en onleesbare code, decoratief.

As subsidy experts for IT entrepreneurs, we are on the sidelines of the many changes within the industry. This dynamic asks us to think about the implications for using subsidies for innovation. An important innovation subsidy is the WBSO: a subsidy scheme that can significantly reduce the innovation costs of IT entrepreneurs. In this piece I will discuss the facets of modern software development and the consequences this has for the use of this subsidy.

Software ecosystems

Popular programming languages cannot be separated from the ecosystems in which they thrive and evolve. Within the domain of a programming language there are large collections of software packages that can be used directly for own development. The arrival of package managers makes it possible to directly embed a package within your own project. As a result, a development team does not have to program a module for authentication, logging or scheduling from scratch, for example. In this case, the focus can be on devising and developing those features that give an application added value for the end user.

IT automation via Cloud

In addition to the strengthening networks for extracting software packages from public repositories for their own development, many IT projects are moving to cloud platforms from Microsoft, Amazon and Google. Although the configuration is complex, servers (on which the applications for the various environments are deployed) can be set up relatively quickly. As soon as the software is running in production, these platforms offer 'auto-magical' options to distribute load evenly or to add additional capacity as soon as parts of an application or database are used intensively.

The tendency is that you still have to write your own programs to a limited extent to set up the IT infrastructure. Usually a configuration file can be written that can be offered to a central server (eg Chef) via an API command. This server manages the configurations of its own infrastructure and updates them if necessary. The management of the infrastructure can also increasingly be carried out via a web-based interface. The usefulness and necessity of programming your own tooling for this is thus reduced.

Reduced the playing space?

As soon as third-party packages are embedded in projects, and complex problems for setting up and managing infrastructures can be handled with configurations, the question arises as to whether the leeway for software development within the WBSO will not be reduced. To answer this question, it is good to consider the relevant access criteria for this innovation grant:

  • WBSO is for in-house software development, carried out by developers who are paid by the IT company applying for a subsidy. Software development should be done in a formal language.

  • WBSO is for activities aimed at solving technical bottlenecks in software. These arise as soon as common methods and techniques make it impossible to develop a component that meets the required specifications (eg speed and reliability).

  • In order to solve the bottleneck, there must be insight into the solution in advance. It is important that the solution contains a new operating principle that expands the company's own technical knowledge and skills.

In short, only in-house software development is eligible. Regular development is excluded: the WBSO relates to activities where a technical bottleneck in the software must be solved and there is a technical risk that this will not succeed.


Do the involvement of externally developed packages and the move to Cloud mean that the share of development within projects decreases? And with that the chances for a WBSO subsidy? Practice shows that this is not the case. The reason is that every software professional gets his or her drive from solving issues that arise during the development of new features. For companies that have innovative ambitions, and for which the WBSO is in principle intended, the opportunities for this scheme remain, in our opinion, as great as ever.

However, the approach of your WBSO project will change. Be keen to make a good distinction between technology that you apply and that you produce yourself. As long as you keep this distinction clear, the 'Proudly Invented Elsewhere' approach in software development can successfully go hand in hand with a promising WBSO application!

In the next blog I will go into this in more detail and give tips on how to achieve a successful application.

Foto van Peter Laurens van Keulen.

Peter Laurens, Innovation Consultant!

Driven by curiosity about what drives my clients and the future plans they envision, I am responsible for applying for innovation subsidies on behalf of these companies.

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