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Podcast: Flanders’ little-known potential for French tech startups

3 regions, 3 languages, 3 markets: albeit a small country, Belgium may turn out to be more complex for French companies than they initially think. Still, France’s northern neighbor is an ideal market to begin with if your startup decides to spread its wings internationally. In the French podcast 'Le Cofondateur', two experts from Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT), Cécile Concile and Willem-Frederik Vander Poorten, zoom in on the often-overlooked potential of Belgium’s northern region: Flanders.

The full podcast episode (one hour) is available on the website of ‘Le Cofondateur’. What can you expect? To recap, here are 3 key takeaways.

Takeaway #1: Flanders is an economic and cultural crossroads

As Belgium’s main economic driver, Flanders is highly industrialized and responsible for over 80% of Belgian exports. But that’s not all you will learn in the Cofondateur podcast episode dedicated to doing business in Belgium and Flanders. You’ll also discover various reasons why Flanders is:

  • an ideal gateway to the Benelux market, with a language border at the intersection of two cultures (Germanic/Anglo-Saxon and Latin); 
  • a bridge between two business worlds, i.e., the more direct northern European style and the more relationship-driven southern European approach. 

Belgium and Flanders should not be seen as an extension of the French market. What works in France will not automatically work in Belgium.

Cécile Concile
Flanders Investment & Trade

Takeaway #2: Flanders is more than worth your time and effort

It’s clear that investing and doing business in Flanders as a French startup takes effort and dedication: adapting your business approach and/or product is essential if you want to be successful in the region. But why bother? The Cofondateur podcast zooms in on precisely that question. Some of the reasons highlighted:

  • Flanders is home to strong, innovation-driven industries with plenty of business potential for French startups specializing in B2B solutions: the digital, life sciences, chemicals and food industries are just some examples.
  • Flanders offers an ideal test market for startups with pan-European ambitions: the perfect first step to find out how internationalization-ready your business is before exploring the rest of Europe.

Belgium is a blueprint for the European market. If get your product or business off the ground here, chances are you’ll succeed in other European countries as well.

Willem-Frederik Vander Poorten
Flanders Investment & Trade

To help startups kickstart their success in Flanders in the most optimal and cost-effective way, the FIT experts invited to the podcast also tackle some of the main practical questions you may have:

  • How do I take my first steps in Flanders and which sectors deserve my attention? 
  • How do I find local talent to support my startup in Flanders? 
  • What should I look out for in terms of labor and payroll laws and how do I optimize wages without encountering tax surprises?
  • Which tax incentives are out there to support setting up a business in Flanders?

Takeaway #3: Flanders has a top-notch startup ecosystem

To top it all off, the podcast also zooms in on Flanders’ startup ecosystem, one of Europe’s most vibrant startup hubs and tech-driven regions. Highlighting just a few selling points, Flanders is home to:

  • fast-growing unicorns like Deliverect and Collibra;
  • leading incubators and accelerators boosting the growth of regional businesses, such as Hangar K, BlueChem, Corda Campus and The Beacon;
  • strong and hands-on government support for R&D, innovation and international entrepreneurship through Startup.Flanders, a dynamic platform to support young, innovative companies in achieving international growth and success.

More info

Le cofondateur
Reported by
Le Cofondateur
24 March 2023

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