“In the corporate jungle, it’s survival of the innovative. R&D is crucial to a company’s growth and competitiveness, tying together every element of a business strategy, from marketing to productivity and cost-effectiveness. But reaping these rewards doesn’t happen overnight. Companies need to make smart investments—in terms of time, money, knowledge and effort. The secret sauce? I believe it boils down to three ingredients: access to an interconnected and cross-sector R&D community, highly qualified talent and a range of financial incentives.
Throughout the years, I’ve seen corporations from the US and beyond take advantage of these requisites for R&D success in Flanders, the small but vibrant region in the north of Belgium. Recently, two American titans—Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer—injected millions into their local operations. These corporate juggernauts have been fans of Flanders for decades, and they’re not alone. In 2016, the region hosted 34 investment projects originating from the US, totaling $642 million, a staggering $264 million of which went to R&D. Here’s what made Flanders the sweet spot for these investments: