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Cybersecurity in Flanders

The digital age brings new technologies that make almost every aspect of our lives richer, simpler and more productive. However, as data and digital systems become important, the need to protect them from unauthorized access is stronger than ever. Thanks to its robust strengths in ICT and strategic location in Europe, Flanders is the ideal environment for cybersecurity innovation.

€794 mln
cybersecurity market in Belgium by 2022
300 mln
potential customers within 600 miles of Flanders
Top 10
cybersecurity purchaser in Europe

Quick facts

  • Rijndael, the algorithm that is used to secure more than 2 billion devices around the world, was developed in Leuven (Flanders).
  • Security expert Frederic Jacobs – the creator of Signal, one of the world’s top encrypted messaging platforms – was born in Brussels, the capital of both Belgium and Flanders.
  • Ethical hacker Inti De Ceukelaire, 2018 Most Valuable Hacker and 2018 hacking world champion, was born in Flanders.

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An ecosystem for cybersecurity innovation

With an enterprise experiencing a digital attack every 40 seconds, ICT players have key roles to fulfill in safeguarding governments, financial institutions and businesses. Flanders’ status as an ICT pioneer and strengths in big data, fintech, IoT and smart devices make it a dynamic breeding ground for developments in cybersecurity, which affect every sector, activity and organisation.

Flanders is home to a co-innovative ecosystem of enterprises, institutes, associations and researchers that develop solutions for a secure digital society. Flanders Investment & Trade also offers an ICT welcome team to give foreign data security companies who are new to the region targeted information and guidance.

The most famous reference to come out of this bedrock for innovation is without a doubt the Rijndael algorithm, used to secure millions of devices around the globe. In addition, international organizations, such as NATO and the EU, have their HQs in Brussels and rely on the local cybersecurity resources to protect their highly sensitive data. And the same goes for numerous financial institutes such as SWIFT, Euroclear and Europay – to mention only a few.

Building blocks for cybersecurity success

Flanders has both the expertise necessary for high-impact, value-adding cybersecurity applications as well as leading industry players and pioneering research institutes. These key knowledge bases include imec, the region’s strategic research center for micro- and nanotechnology, and the LSEC information security cluster established by the University of Leuven.

Discover Flanders’ assets and strengths related to IT security:

Safeguarding valuable data

Big data is changing the way the world operates in domains as diverse as healthcare, agriculture, finance and logistics to energy. Connect your data security ambitions with Flanders’ expertise in industries that influence and are impacted by big data innovations, including:

KU Leuven helps secure Galileo

An initiative of the European Commission, the European Galileo satnav system relies on the fact that satellite systems are difficult to forge.

KU Leuven computer security scientists worked closely with the EC to develop a new method of authentication based on Tesla electronic signatures.

Galileo satellites went live with this method in 2018, and all European satellites will follow in 2020.

Galileo satellites 15–18 being deployed from their dispenser at 22 900 km altitude

Talent to change the world

Flanders’ 5 universities and numerous university colleges are hard at work developing the next generation of cybersecurity pioneers. They offer a wide range of degrees and coursework relevant to ICT and data security, including:

Smart financing options for your business

Thinking of setting up activities or establishing the headquarters of your business in Flanders? Consider benefiting from the following support measures offered by the government of Flanders:

Specific cost-saving incentives for R&D

Research and development-intensive domains such as computer science, big data security and encryption are specifically supported by Flanders. Consider the following incentives:

  • investment deduction for R&D – 13.5% of acquisition value/qualifying asset or 20.5% of the depreciated amount;
  • exemption of payment of 80% – of the personal income withholding tax of researchers in certain scientific fields.
  • innovation income deduction – up to 85% of a firm’s net earnings from innovation is tax exempt;

R&D tax incentives in Flanders

Multidisciplinary ICT Welcome Team

Flanders Investment & Trade offers an ICT Welcome Team that provides tailored assistance to foreign ICT companies interested in setting up activities in Flanders. The team is composed of highly skilled advisors with expertise in multiple ICT domains and is also responsible for steering the region’s market approach.

Companies active in four domains are proactively targeted:

  • fintech;
  • cybersecurity;
  • smart cities;
  • medtech and ICT in healthcare.

In search of customized investment guidance? Contact our ICT Welcome team at michel.hofman@fitagency.be.

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