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Mobile application development in Flanders
In the last decade, software development has shifted from complex systems to simpler, more modular apps. The goal? To enable enterprises to become more agile, and to create highly personalized experiences for consumers. As a result, the global revenue for mobile applications has grown from USD 8.31 billion in 2011 to 58.21 billion in 2017. By 2020, the worldwide app industry is expected to be a 101-billion-dollar business.
With an annual increase of 20% since 2010 , Flanders’ mobile application market perfectly reflects this global growth on a regional scale. Since then, the number of professional developers in Belgium, and Flanders as a region, has grown from 400 in 2013 to 1,200 today. 70% of them are working for one of the 200 app-developing companies with offices in Belgium. For developers, the main source of income is the creation of third-party apps (58%) and subscription-based services (20%).
Who are Flanders’ app developers? According to Agoria, the sector federation of the technological industry in Belgium, the sector is professionalizing rapidly. Amateurs developing apps in their free time (6%) are quickly being replaced by freelancers (18%) and employed developers (68%).
Today, there are around 200 app developing companies active in Belgium, most of which are located in Flanders. While a number of local start-ups have become household names – In The Pocket – others have been bought and integrated into major ICT or media companies.
In the Pocket puts Flanders on the (m)ap(p)
Flanders’ largest app developer to date is In the Pocket. The company started in Ghent and recently opened a branch in London. In just a few years time, the developer has created over 200 applications for the media and business world.
One of its showpieces is the sales enablement platform Showpad. This “mobile briefcase” provides salespeople with up-to-date information about a vendor’s products. The apps user-friendliness has attracted interest from the United states as well.
While there are no traditional education courses that focus on app development in Flanders, various universities and colleges offer courses that include mobile app creation in their curriculum . Some of these include:
- Applied Informatics at Howest – a bachelor course that offers three separate graduation pathways that focus on computer and cyber crime, software and system engineering, and ICT consultancy.
Companies setting up or managing their activities or headquarters in Flanders can reap the rewards of:
- various government grants and subsidies for transformation, ecological, R&D and growth investments;
- unique tax incentives for various types of business activities and investments;
- a set of employment subsidies to further reduce your salary costs as well as fiscal remuneration advantages;
- a number of funding options to help you get off the ground.
Flanders offers incentives that are relevant to research-intensive domains like encryption, computer science and data security. Examples include:
- innovation income deduction – up to 85% of a firm’s net earnings from innovation is tax exempt;
- 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.