There are over 140 biotechnology companies operating in Belgium (7% of all such companies in Europe). Belgian biotechnology companies accounted for 16% of Europe’s turnover and almost 10% of R&D expenditure.
The development of the biotechnology sector in Belgium has created several biotechnology clusters comprising universities, companies and organisations active in the biotechnology industry.
Universities and companies
Universities play a key role in technology transfer, collaboration between their various departments resulting in intensive exchanges of knowledge and the creation of new clusters. Both these factors drive further development in the sector.
Spin-off biotechnology companies are springing up all over Belgium. Most Belgian biotechnology companies are members of the Belgian Association for Bioindustries, Bio.be, which represents the industry at both national and European level.
Flanders has a well-established track record of discoveries and innovation in biotechnology, the Flemish biotechnology industry having made significant breakthroughs in genetics and botany. As a result, a fair number of Flemish biotech companies have become key players on the international market.
Most of Flanders' biotech companies and research institutes are in Ghent, Leuven and Mechelen. The two main drivers of scientific research are the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) and the research institute FlandersBio.
Wallonia's main biotechnology centres are Liège, Charleroi, Mons, Ottignies, Gembloux and Namur. One excellent example of various stakeholders working together is the partnership between the Directorate-General of Technologies, Research and Energy (DGTRE), the Wallonia Export Agency (AWEX), the Office for Foreign Investors (OFI) and the main financial arm of the local authorities.
Wallonia is also further consolidating its position as a scientific innovator, with high-tech companies having taken over the role previously played by heavy industry. What's more, all key biotech sectors are represented in Wallonia in the form of either companies or research centres.
The Brussels-Capital Region has built up a highly attractive, emerging biotechnology sector, owing the success of its efforts to close collaboration between universities and industry and to support from the Regional authorities.