The digital age comes with new technologies that make almost every aspect of our lives richer, simpler and more productive. However, as data and digital systems become increasingly important, the need to protect them from unauthorized access is stronger than ever. Thanks to its strengths in ICT and its strategic location in Europe, Flanders is the ideal environment for cybersecurity innovation.
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A glimpse of Flanders’ innovative cybersecurity industry
Within a relatively small surface area, Flanders offers a world-class cybersecurity industry:
- The next generation of talented cybersecurity experts is being educated at 5 top-ranked universities in Flanders: KU Leuven, UGent, UAntwerpen, UHasselt and VUB.
- 3% of Flanders’ total GDP is spent on R&D, a major driver of cybersecurity success.
- imec, Flanders’ strategic research center for digital innovation and nanotech, performs world-leading research in cybersecurity.
- More than 60 cybersecurity firms are headquartered in Flanders.
Today’s increasingly digital society comes with new security risks. It’s no wonder that organizations rely on ICT players to develop sophisticated software to protect their data.
As a frontrunner, Flanders knows how to meet this demand. It is home to a dense ecosystem that unites the private, public and academic sectors in long-term collaborations that safeguard our digital society.
Gain access to Flanders’ local cybersecurity community:
One of the main drivers of cybersecurity co-innovation in Flanders is imec – the region’s strategic research center for nanotechnology and digital innovation. Its research is easily accessible for private-public collaborations and covers relevant domains such as IoT, big data, wireless communication, CMOS development and scaling, data processing and encryption.
Sector federation Agoria paves the way for all technologically inspired companies in Belgium and Flanders as a region that strives for progress through the development and application of high-tech innovations.
The Cyber Security Coalition is a non-profit association that brings together the skills and expertise of the academic world, the private sector and public authorities, aiming to foster information exchange and implement joint actions.
LSEC is an international IT and information security cluster founded by Leuven University (KU Leuven) and supported by European Commission. LSEC leads a unique, private, pan-European partnership that interacts with public institutions.
DSP Valley is Flanders’ regional business network for companies that create and apply electronic solutions and digital technology. The network provides a ‘home’ for businesses impacted by digitalization, technology solutions providers and integrators that can pull things together.
Internationally, Flanders stands out from the pack by distinguishing itself in 4 main areas of expertise:
Rijndael algorithm – Flanders’ most famous cybersecurity reference
The most famous reference to come out of this innovation hotspot is without a doubt the Rijndael algorithm, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Rijndael Algorithm was developed at Leuven University (KU Leuven) – where 15 professors and 150+ researchers specialize in cybersecurity – and has since been approved by the NSA to protect classified, secret and top-secret information. Today, AES is used to encrypt Wi-Fi signals, web communications and hard disks as well as to protect bank transactions around
Thinking of setting up activities or establishing the headquarters of your business in Flanders? You may be eligible to benefit from the following support measures offered by the government of Flanders. Government support is offered in two different forms: direct and indirect.
- dedicated cybersecurity budget – EUR 20 million per year, only for cybersecurity-related projects;
- general R&D budget – up to EUR 3 million in funding per R&D project;
- payroll incentives – 80% of the withholding tax on professional income recovered, 25% of social security contributions and up to 80% of the total cost of a PhD candidate (Baekeland mandates).
- innovation income deduction for R&D – up to 85% of a firm’s net earnings from innovation;
- investment deduction – 13.5% of the acquisition value deducted or 20.5% of the annual depreciation deducted.
In setting up cybersecurity activities in Flanders, you’re definitely in good company. Get to know cybersecurity pioneers from Flemish soil:
Guardsquare – global reference in mobile application protection
Cybersecurity firms in Flanders benefit from the presence of outstanding universities and research institutes as well as from the region’s international focus. Universities like KU Leuven generate a steady stream of highly qualified people needed to drive innovation in the quickly evolving field of cybersecurity.
Belgian Mobile ID – the company behind the itsme application
In 2003, researchers developed the electronic ID card. This invention set the tone for many more to come, all requiring diverse expertise in secure solutions design.
Secure Code Warrior – on a mission to help developers write secure code
Flanders is home to incredible people with the skills to make digital lives safer and to work toward a higher standard of software security. We’d love to offer these talented people the platform to make their mark and enhance their careers within a global company that’s driving positive change in application security.