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Flanders honors top foreign investors

  • Flanders Investment & Trade will present Japanese air-conditioning specialist Daikin with the Lifetime Achievement Trophy for 45 years of investments in Flanders
  • Borealis, CPMC, Mainfreight and Nipro are currently competing for the Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy

Brussels, January 17, 2019 – For the 7th year in a row, Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) puts the spotlight on foreign companies with remarkable investments in Flanders, Belgium’s autonomous northern region. The government agency will present three trophies: the Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy, the Lifetime Achievement Trophy and the Newcomer of the Year Trophy. Last year, these went to Kaneka (Japan), Pfizer (US) and Brolis (Lithuania), respectively.                                                             

This year, four foreign firms are nominated for the Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy: Borealis (Austria), CPMC (China), Mainfreight (New Zealand) and Nipro (Japan). The winner will be revealed during the Foreign Investment Trophy event on March 18, 2019, at Deloitte’s Gateway Office (Brussels Airport). For the first time, FIT is announcing the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Trophy prior to this prestigious awards ceremony. In doing so, the agency seeks to further underline the importance of dedicated foreign investors to Flanders’ economy. During the event, Japanese air conditioning specialist Daikin will receive the trophy from Flanders’ Minister-President Geert Bourgeois.

The Lifetime Achievement Trophy goes to Daikin

Daikin’s Lifetime Achievement Trophy win highlights the rich history of the Japanese multinational in Flanders. Daikin was one of the first Japanese companies ever to settle in Flanders and celebrated its 45th anniversary in the region in 2018. Innovation – both in terms of production and technology – is a recurring theme throughout decades of investment. In 1973, Daikin set its sights on the coastal town of Ostend as the location for its EMEA headquarters. Over time, Daikin Europe also established an R&D and knowledge center and opened sites in Ghent and Brussels.

The construction of the Daikin Academy – an international training center – only adds to the success story. Over the years, Daikin Europe’s turnover has risen from EUR 5 million to EUR 2.8 billion, EUR 85 million of which in Flanders. The number of employees in the region increased from 68 to 2,040, more than 1,700 of which work in Ostend. This makes Daikin Europe the largest employer in the city.

Discover more about Daikin’s investments

The Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy: 4 nominees

In addition to handing out the Lifetime Achievement Trophy, FIT will also be announcing the winner of the Newcomer of the Year Trophy on March 18 as well as the Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy. Four international companies are competing for the latter.

  • Borealis – Headquartered in Austria, this company is channeling EUR 1 billion into the expansion of its site in Kallo. The new propylene factory will open its doors in 2022, creating around 100 jobs at the Port of Antwerp. During the construction phase, this number is expected to rise to 1,500.

    Discover more about Borealis’s investment

  • CPMC – After years of exporting to Europe, this Chinese packaging company invests EUR 60 million in building a production facility in Genk. As such, CPMC brings its recyclable aluminum cans closer to the local beverage industry and Flanders-based beer breweries. The investment generates 150 direct jobs in Limburg.

    Discover more about CPMC’s investment

  • Mainfreight – In June 2018, this logistics and transport firm from New Zealand opened a new distribution center in Zwijnaarde. This constitutes Mainfreight’s third major investment in Flanders in two years, totaling an amount of EUR 21 million and creating about 100 job opportunities.

    Discover more about Mainfreight’s investment

  • Nipro – This Japanese pharmaceutical and medtech company owes its nomination to its recent construction of a renewed EMEA HQ and its first-ever training and research center abroad – both located in Mechelen. As such, the company is investing no less than EUR 24 million in Flanders. Nipro aims for a 10% annual increase of its local workforce.

    Discover more about Nipro’s investment

Selected by multiple groups

From today, those who want to help decide which nominee will be presented with the Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy can cast their votes at The company that receives the most votes after three rounds of voting – by the public online, the professional jury in person and the ceremony audience – will be bringing the distinguished trophy home.


Foreign investments are an essential driver of Flanders’ economy. Not only do they create additional jobs, they also inject new expertise into our business environment and represent 54% of the added value in our economy according to a recent study by EWI Vlaanderen, Flanders’ Department of Economy, Science and Innovation. By organizing the Foreign Investment Trophy, we underline the importance of foreign investors for Flanders. This event recognizes their engagement.

Claire Tillekaerts (CEO of Flanders Investment & Trade)

The Foreign Investment Trophy highlights the importance of foreign companies in Flanders. It acknowledges their contribution to our economy and the creation of additional jobs in our region. Moreover, the increasing number of new foreign investment projects indicates that Flanders is a highly attractive place for doing business.”

Geert Bourgeois (Flanders’ Minister-President)

About FIT and foreign investments in Flanders

International firms reap diverse rewards when deciding to invest in Flanders. As a major logistics crossroads in the heart of Europe’s purchasing power, Flanders is the place to be for companies with pan-European ambitions. The region is also known for the close collaboration between its private, public and academic sectors—making it fertile ground for innovative research and development activities in some of the most advanced technological niches.

Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) actively promotes sustainable international business in Flanders as a key element of the region’s socioeconomic development. FIT accomplishes this by supporting Flanders-based companies in their international business ventures and by attracting foreign investors. FIT assists businesses across Flanders in their international endeavors and provides custom advice and support. Companies can call on the agency’s local and international networks of contacts, while FIT also offers financial support and information about the financial incentives available.

Press contact

Ann Ramaekers
M. +32 475 77 38 83


17 January 2019