Sowalfin – Belgium

SOWALFIN is the one-stop shop for Walloon SMEs. SOWALFIN stands at the side of entrepreneurs at each step of the company lifecycle: start-up, growth, internationalisation, innovation, green transition, transfer of ownership. We inform them, we guide them and we support them in their investments and in all their needs in relation with their activities… We share the financial risks with the entrepreneur and other financial partners, while remaining agile and flexible

The SOWALFIN Group was set up in 2002 by the Walloon Government. Its historical mission is to support the access to finance to MSMEs and self-employed entrepreneurs.

Since 2018, the Walloon Government has also appointed SOWALFIN to offer information and guidance to Walloon entrepreneurs.

Since 2021, SOWALFIN has received new missions: to support innovation and Intellectual Property

With the integration of these new services, the SOWALFIN Group is more than ever a reference partner for Walloon entrepreneurs through :

  • its services;
  • its network : SOWALFIN coordinates local operators such as European Business and Innovation Centres and Creative Hubs, is involved in the Walloon S3 governance and collaborates with KTOs to enhance the transfer and commercialization of research results;
  • its expertise (technical, financial and in intellectual property).

SOWALFIN has an annual funding budget of ~ 350 million € (for 2020). The annual budget of its innovation funding programmes was, for 2020, ~ 58 million € (this includes funding programmes by Local Investments Funds).

Activities related to innovation:

– Financing

SOWALFIN group’s financing tools dedicated to (technological and non-technological) innovative projects of SMEs are :

  • Local Investment funds : equity participation, all types of loans, etc.
  • Easy’up product : subordinated loan for partial funding of innovative close to sale technological or non-technological projects
  • Easy’green product : capital and loans for financing (up to 100%) eco-innovative close to sale projects
  • Guarantees on bank loans for technological companies (partnership EIF – Innov’fin mechanism)
  • Sowalfin can also provide subsidies to spin-offs, spin-outs and innovative companies to finance the hiring of human resources essential for the development of these companies

– Information and Guidance

SOWALIN provides information and guidance to Walloon entrepreneurs, about starting up, growing, going green, going international and even transferring the company (or buying a new one) via : a portal for entrepreneurs, combining a call center & a website to provide Walloon entrepreneurs with reliable, up-to date and clear information and guidance.

-Awareness-raising and Support

The innovation advisors of SOWALFIN work in close partnership with a network of field operators, the European Business and Innovation Centres (EBICs) and the economic development units of the Territorial Development Agencies (TDAs) to analyse the technological aspect of innovation projects and their feasibility.

In addition, SOWALFIN organises (in collaboration with the EBICs and Creative Hubs) reboot camps for SMEs wishing to stimulate their growth, mobilises a dense ecosystem and pilots a network of operators from both the economic promotion sector (including the EBICs, Creative Hubs, Fab labs, etc.) and the research sector (KTOs within the Universities and higher education institutions).

Through its helpdesk, SOWALFIN helps SMEs and self-employed entrepreneurs to understand the challenges of intellectual property (IP) for their business and provides support solutions available online (the “IdeeScan” self-diagnosis, training modules, guides, etc.). In addition, SOWALFIN advises companies on the development of an IP strategy in order to establish an action plan.  Finally, it refers to private actors when specific needs arise.

SOWALFIN has a Staff of ~ 130 employees.

Avenue Maurice Destenay, 13 B-4000 Liège
Phone +32 (0)4 220 51 90