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Flanders’ R&D and innovative prowess in facts & figures

Flanders, the northern region of Belgium, has been dedicated to R&D and innovation for years. And its innovative ecosystem is only getting stronger! But don’t take our word for it… Various facts and figures confirm how and why Flanders should be on your radar if you’re looking to kickstart your R&D activities internationally. Let’s zoom in on three prominent examples!

Headline 1 – Flanders is a European innovation leader

In 2021, the European Commission released not one but two innovation rankings: the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) and the Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS). In a first for both the country and its northern region, these rankings highlight Belgium and Flanders as innovation leaders within the European Union (EU).

As such, Belgium came in 4th out of 27 EU member states, while Flanders came in 27th out of 240 regions – and thus belongs to the top 11% of EU regions. The innovation indicators on which Flanders scored best represent some of the region’s most prominent strong suits. These include the successful crosspollination occurring between the private, public and academic sectors in the region, as well as a strong focus on education and talent development, innovation clusters and co-creation.

Get the full scoop on Flanders’ innovation leader ranking.

Headline 2 – Flanders is a top 2 R&D spender

3% of the GDP: that’s how much the European Council wants European nations and regions to spend on R&D. While the European average currently stands at 2.10%, the region of Flanders goes well beyond the threshold! ECOOM published an analysis indicating that 3.35% of Flanders’ GDP was invested in R&D in 2020, representing a total value of EUR 9.35 billion.

Consequently, Flanders comes in at 2nd place in Europe – just behind Sweden (3.4%) and ahead of large innovative economies such as Germany and Austria.

The fact that Flanders scores well above the 3% goal indicates our region’s success in building, maintaining and fortifying our knowledge-driven economy. Flanders is an absolute world leader when it comes to R&D spending – and with the increased efforts planned in the coming years, we seek to keep this drive going.

Hilde Crevits
Flemish Minister for Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture

Headline 3 – Flanders channels millions into research infrastructure

To fortify the region’s strong position in R&D, the government of Flanders announced in 2021 that it will be funneling EUR 120 million into the development of new research infrastructure. This state-of-the-art infrastructure will include new laboratories, research centers, test environments and study equipment – available to businesses looking to start or expand their activities.

The investment entails 23 projects coordinated by Flanders’ universities, strategic research centers and other institutes – all of which have been strategically chosen to focus on major socioeconomic challenges in sustainability, digitalization and health.

We don't realize enough how many groundbreaking innovations emerge and how much research happens in Flanders. It’s fair to say that we are world class. Leading companies like Johnson & Johnson, CNH Industrial and Nokia call Flanders home.

Hilde Crevits
Flemish Minister for Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture

Download our free guide to get your R&D off the ground in Flanders

Flanders makes a great match as your company’s partner in innovation, thanks to its interconnected R&D landscape, top-notch knowledge institutes, talented workforce, robust R&D support, interesting tax incentives and more. Want to find out how to leverage these and other benefits? Request a copy of our R&D activity guide  – free of charge – and get going with one of five possible business scenarios.

20 December 2021

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Flanders’ R&D and innovative prowess in facts and figures


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