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Flanders’ companies strongly invest in R&D [report]

In Flanders, companies invest heavily in research and development (R&D) activities – and that’s not just coming from us! The results of the most recent Community Innovation Survey (CIS), published by ECOOM on 10 October 2022, make it crystal clear: between 2018 and 2020, 75% of Flanders-based businesses invested in product and/or process innovations.

Large and small companies across various industries

The results of the latest Community Innovation Survey (CIS) pick up where the previous edition left off: with an overall innovation rate of 75% in Flanders’ business environment for the period 2018-2020. More specifically, 69% of Flanders’ companies are working on process innovations, while 37% are focusing on product innovations. The overall innovation rate is highest for large enterprises (93%), but also remains high for medium-sized (85%) and small enterprises (71%).

The most R&D-driven industry in Flanders is by far the chemical and pharmaceutical sector, where 93% of companies report having product and/or business process innovation activities. Other industries in Flanders that commit particularly strongly to R&D and innovation include ICT & electronics (87%), information services (90%), machinery & vehicles (86%), textiles (86%), food & beverages (73%), transportation & logistics (62%) and financial services (62%).

The ecosystem approach

The survey results also highlight how innovation in Flanders doesn’t happen in a vacuum but instead takes place within a tight R&D ecosystem that unites the public, private and academic sectors seamlessly. For instance, of all the companies engaged in product and/or process innovation between 2018 and 2020, almost one in five (17%) received financial support from the government of Flanders

What’s more, 20% made sure to collaborate when carrying out innovation activities. Here, other business units or subsidiaries, consultants, commercial laboratories and Flanders’ public research institutions are mentioned as the most important partners. 

Europe's top R&D spender

Innovation, of course, comes with a price tag – but companies in Flanders spare no effort in this regard! Together, Flanders-based enterprises channeled a staggering EUR 6.8 billion into R&D activities in 2020. When you take public R&D investments into account as well, the total R&D investment amount for the region of Flanders clocks in at over EUR 9.5 billion. That’s 3.6% of Flanders’ GDP, putting the region at the top of the EU-27 scoreboard for R&D expenditure as a share of GDP

About CIS

Every 2 years, ECOOM (Flanders’ inter-university center for research and development monitoring) measures the degree to which Flanders’ companies are engaged in product and/or process innovation. It does so using a standardized questionnaire – the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) – and following the methodological recommendations issued by Eurostat for measuring innovation by enterprises in the EU member states. Out of a stratified sample of 5,267 companies with 10 or more employees in most industrial and service sectors, a total of 3,554 filled out the CIS questionnaire, representing a response rate of 67%.

More info

Reported by
press release ECOOM, website Eurostat
16 November 2022

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