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Robotics in Flanders

As key enablers of commerce of tomorrow, robots are changing the way we work. Precise and ideal for hazardous tasks, robots boost productivity, cut costs and enable optimized use of resources. As a result, the sector is expected to grow faster than the rest of the economy as robots become increasingly entwined in our lives.

Flanders leads the way in the development, production and integration of robotics technologies in a wide range of sectors, including health, microelectronics, automotive, agriculture, medtech and more.

High robot density in Flanders and Belgium

Benefit from a rich ecosystem for robotics innovation

Ready to enable your robotics initiative to thrive? Flanders has every resource you need – universities, highly-skilled workers, knowledge centers, industry players, advanced infrastructure – for success in any robotics area. Even more, groundbreaking robotics firms in Flanders often partner with academic institutions to co-create solutions-based and speculative technologies.

Robotics innovation in action: cobot ‘Walt’ helps build vehicles

An imec project titled ClaXon, which investigated new ways that people can collaborate with industrial robots, resulted in Walt – a learning, interactive collaborative robot used by Audi in its Brussels facility. Unlike other industrial robots, cobots are not walled away from people to prevent accidents, but work alongside and with them, increasing precision. Workers communicate with Walt using gestures, and Walt can even learn new and complex tasks through demonstration.

Walt, a learning, interactive collaborative robot used by Audi

A driven, empowered workforce

Did you know that Belgium, and Flanders as a region, is home to the 4th most productive workforce per hour worked in the world? Not only that, but salary costs are significantly lower than those of other western nations, and labor costs are highly stable. Flanders’ excellent educational system provides employees with the skills they need to compete on a global level in robotics development and application.

ORSI Academy

ORSI Academy: surgical robotics in East Flanders

Seeking new and innovative ways to make surgery minimally invasive, the ORSI Academy of Melle, East Flanders offers a state-of-the-art facility and every tool doctors need to master new surgical techniques using robots and assistive technologies. The institute partners with Flanders’ major universities and collaborates closely with industry leaders and expert hospitals. ORSI Academy even offers flexible incubation programs for companies, individual physicians and even students for the development of minimally invasive surgical technologies.

All the talent at hand

Benefit from the high-quality robotics expertise and academic curricula offered by each of Flanders’ 5 universities. They provide world-leading bachelor’s and master’s degrees in key robotics fields such as engineering, computer science, data science, medicine and more

Where smart funding meets smart people: strategic mechatronics research by MIRAD

With a budget of nearly EUR 3 million, this 4-year research project is funded by Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) and launched in 2013. The goal? To advance the robotics knowledge base in terms of assistive robotic devices such as orthoses, prostheses and other equipment such as exoskeletons for health and industrial applications. By the end of the project, researchers aim to valorize real solutions applicable to current market segments, from health, sports and aerospace to entertainment.

R&D incentives

Flanders offers incentives that are relevant to research-intensive domains like robotics. Examples include:

  • 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

Did you know

  • … Flanders – only 13,500 km² in size – accounts for 8% of global turnover in additive manufacturing, a key application of robotics?
  • … Robotic assistant and receptionist Pepper was developed in Flanders by robotics firm Zora Bots?
  • … Economists predict that the robotics sector will grow 10% annually for the next 10 years – four times faster than the world economy? (Boston Consulting Group)

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