Strong research infrastructure, high-quality education, a favourable business environment, public-private partnerships, and government support make Belgium a genuine innovation leader in Europe.
When it comes to innovation, Belgium shines as one of Europe's top leaders. In fact, the European Commission's Innovation Scoreboard consistently places Belgium alongside countries such as Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.
But what sets Belgium apart and fuels its impressive innovation leadership? Let's delve into the key factors that have contributed to Belgium's success.
Strong Research Infrastructure: Belgium has a dense network of research institutions, including universities, research centres, and scientific institutions. Many of these receive significant government funding, which enables them to conduct high-quality research and attract top researchers from around the world. The country also develops many internationally recognised scientific papers.
High-Quality Education: Belgium has a highly educated workforce, and there is a strong emphasis on science and technology. The country has several highly ranked universities and technical colleges that produce skilled graduates in fields such as engineering, biotechnology, and computer science. Belgium’s top university institutions are also open to top doctorate students further enhancing the level of research and innovation.
Favourable Business Environment: Belgium has a business-friendly environment, with a well-established legal and regulatory framework that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. The country is also home to several thriving industries, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and ICT, which provide opportunities for innovation and growth.
Public-Private Partnerships: Belgium has a strong tradition of public-private partnerships. These encourage collaboration between academia, industry, and government. These partnerships enable researchers and entrepreneurs to work together to develop new products and technologies, and bring them to market more quickly.
Government Support: The Belgian government is strongly committed to supporting research and development and so allocates significant support. The government also provides tax incentives for R&D investment and offers funding programs to support innovation and entrepreneurship.
The result? Many new products & technologies
Here are just a few examples of innovative products and technologies developed in Belgium in recent years:
- Imec's Smart Contact Lens: Imec, a leading Belgian research centre in the field of nanotechnology, has developed a smart contact lens that can monitor glucose levels in the tears of diabetes patients. The lens uses microelectronics to detect glucose and transmit the data wirelessly to a mobile device.
- EcoBirdy’s Children's Furniture: Belgian start-up EcoBirdy has developed a range of children’s furniture made entirely from recycled plastic. The furniture is designed to be both environmentally friendly and child-friendly, with soft edges and bright colours.
- Materialise’s 3D Printed Prosthetics: Materialise, a Belgian company specializing in 3D printing, has developed a range of customised prosthetics that can be produced quickly and at low cost using 3D printing technology. The company has also developed software that allows patients to design their own prosthetics.
- Delhaize’s Too Good To Go App: Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize has partnered with the Too Good To Go app to reduce food waste. The app allows customers to purchase surplus food from the supermarket at a discount, thereby preventing food waste and reducing the environmental impact of food production.
- Bespoke’s AI-Powered Fabric: Belgian textile start-up Bespoke has developed an AI-powered fabric that can adapt to different environments and conditions. The fabric uses sensors to detect changes in temperature, humidity, and light. It then adjusts its properties to deliver optimal comfort and performance.
And there are plenty more examples. To sum up, Belgium’s strong research infrastructure, high-quality education, favourable business environment, numerous public-private partnerships, and government support make the country a genuine innovation leader in Europe.