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Belgium and Flanders rank as innovation leaders in the EU

In a first for both the country and its northern region, Belgium and Flanders have been ranked as innovation leaders within the European Union (EU). This was published in the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) and the Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS) released by the European Commission on 21 June 2021. The result of longstanding joint efforts by knowledge institutions, companies and governmental organizations, Belgium came in 4th out of 27 EU member states, while Flanders came in 27th out of 240 regions.


Belgium in the European top 4

The EIS classifies EU member states into four performance groups based on their scores: innovation leaders, strong innovators, moderate innovators and emerging innovators. While Sweden remains the EU innovation leader, Belgium completes the top 4 along with Finland and Denmark – all with an innovation performance well above the EU average and considered ‘innovation leaders’.

Flanders among the top 11% of European regions

A regional extension of the EIS, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS) assesses the innovation performance of European regions on a limited number of indicators. Zooming in on Flanders, Belgium’s northern region, RIS has classified Flanders as an ‘innovation leader’ as well. Coming in at 27th place out of a total of 240, Flanders thus belongs to the top 11% of EU regions.

The region obtained its highest scores on innovation indicators such as:

  • innovative small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) collaborating;
  • business process innovators;
  • innovation expenditures per person employed;
  • employment at innovative enterprises;
  • tertiary education at universities and university colleges;
  • international scientific co-publications.

Representing Flanders’ strong suits, these indicators highlight the successful crosspollination occurring between the private, public and academic sectors in the region as well as Flanders’ strong focus on promoting education and talent development, innovation clusters and co-creation in R&D.

More info

European Commission
Reported by
1 July 2021

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