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Flanders is #1 in Europe for R&D spending relative to GDP

According to recently published figures from Statistics Flanders, no less than 3.6% of Flanders’ GDP was channeled into research and development (R&D) in 2020. Representing a total of EUR 9.6 billion being invested by the region’s companies, knowledge institutions and government combined, this percentage makes Flanders the European leader when it comes to R&D expenditure relative to GDP and places it far above the EU average of 2.2%.

Growing knowledge economy

Of Flanders’ total R&D expenditure, 72% comes from the private sector and 28% from the public sector Furthermore, the total number of full-time R&D employees in the region has increased by 3.5%, bringing the total to 61,358. 

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, companies in Flanders have continued to invest in R&D,” says Flanders’ Minister of Economy & Innovation Jo Brouns. “The powerful impulses the government provides through Flanders’ Resilience plan have certainly supported and boosted companies’ confidence to up their innovative efforts.” 

This confirms that Flanders is a true knowledge-driven economy using innovation to tackle societal challenges, especially in terms of environment, energy and climate.

Jo Brouns
Flanders’ Minister of Economy & Innovation

Above the 3% standard

What’s more, both in 2019 and 2020, Flanders’ R&D expenditure relative to GDP exceeded the 3% threshold put forward as a standard by Europe 2020, the EU’s strategy for growth and employment. 

Besides putting Flanders at the top of the European leaderboard, this result also makes the region part of a select group of innovation leaders within the EU: only three other EU member states – Sweden (3.53%), Austria (3.20%) and Germany (3.14%) also surpassed the target percentage in 2020. 

More info

Statistics Flanders
Reported by
website Belgian News Agency
5 July 2022

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