Did you know that researchers from Flanders? Were the first to unravel the DNA sequence of a gene? Developed pioneering pharmaceuticals for pain management, anesthesia and schizophrenia treatment? Developed tPA thrombolytic therapy for myocardial infarction? Were the first to use stem cells in bone marrow transplants? Created a lab-on-a-chip for early breast cancer discovery?
Flanders, a region comprising the northern half of Belgium, might be small in surface area, but it is home to one of the most vibrant life sciences ecosystems in the world. And for good reason; Flanders’ strategic location in the north of Belgium in the midst of a European network for life sciences that includes the UK (London-Oxford-Cambridge), France, Germany and Switzerland – four nations known for their life sciences strengths, vivid network of global life sciences players, excellent supportive incentives and talented workforce make it the place to be to thrive in any life sciences subsector.
A high level of academic-industrial collaboration in Flanders results in a dense network of human health industry players, resources and driving forces that rely on each other and build upon shared innovations.
Key Strategic Research Centres
As a strategic research centre for nanotechnology, Imec is a renowned synonym for ‘cutting-edge’. It plays a crucial role in the design of electronics for pharma and health care, focussing on technologies that steer easier diagnosis and more comprehensive treatment like labs-on-chips, neuropores, health wearables and more.
VIB, Flanders’ institute for biotechnology, is a vast source of knowledge, expertise and infrastructure relevant to pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial applications. It is scientists are globally recognised frontrunners in their fields. VIB, an institute of 5 universities, 1,700 coworkers, 76 nationalities, 8 research centers, focus on excellence in science, translation of science and public outreach.
VITO is an independent Flemish research organization in the area of cleantech and sustainable development. Sustainable health solutions isone of their research areas. VITO is developing new applications, measurement methods and biomarkers aimed at preventive health care, health management and preventing disease.
Universities and Academic Hospitals
Flanders not only has 5 universities with internationally renowned life sciences departments and research teams; the region is also home to 4 academic hospitals for research collaboration. The universities of Flanders represent the first pillar of the higher education system, and play a major role in the output of R&D in Flanders. The region’s 5 universities generate almost 90% of all of the non-private scientific output of Flanders.
When it comes to health-driven universities, Leuven University and Leuven University Hospital excel in life sciences. The institution boasts a fully-fledged Life Sciences Campus that employs 1,300 researchers and offers 2,000 beds. The Leuven Medical Technology Centre coordinates research groups in the areas of robotics and automation, drug administration, tissue regeneration and bionic systems, among others. It is Centre for Drug Design&Discovery technology platform accelerates small molecule drug discovery, and has been responsible for supporting the development of drugs to treat AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, alzheimer’s disease, and others.
VUB and Brussels University Hospital operates it is own strategic research centres in neurosciences, reproductive medicine, diabetes, oncology and cardiovascular studies.
Ghent University Hospital is one of the largest and most specialised hospitals in Flanders, and Ghent University is home to key centres of medical expertise and research groups. It is Department of Basic Medical Sciences is involved in translational medicine in the fields of anatomy and embryology, stem cell biology, medical physics, physiology, radiobiology and tissue engineering.
The University of Hasselt BIOMED research institute employs 140+ researchers to investigate novel areas of neuroscience, autoimmunity, cell physiology and biophysics, and morphology and histology.
Antwerp University and Antwerp University Hospital is known for its excellent care and international research initiatives in the domains of cardiology, clinical biology, haematology, immunology, metabolic disorders, molecular imaging, neurosurgery and more.
Enablers, Accelerators and Sector Organisations
There are also various bio-incubators, pharma innovation accelerators and science parks targeting life sciences start-ups located in or near several of Flanders’ key cities: Ghent, Leuven, Antwerp and Hasselt. These include BioVille, the BlueHealth Innovation Centre and StartupVillage. Cluster and sector organisations such as FlandersBio, beMedtech, Healthcare Belgium, and Agoria’s Healthcare Technology Club provide support, guidance and collaboration opportunities to industry players to promote information exchange, business growth and innovation.
When it comes to pharmaceuticals, the top 10 biggest players in the world operate key facilities in Flanders. Janssen Pharmaceutica, Pfizer, Sanofi and Novartis are among the big names to benefit from Flanders’ advantages.
Significant Tax Savings on Novel Ideas
Developing the next disruptive biotechnology or ground-breaking medicine? The region offers incentives that target research-heavy sectors such as pharma and biotech. The innovation income deduction renders up to 85% of a firm’s net earnings from innovation tax exempt, allowing companies to reinvest the funds to fuel ongoing development.
Other Generous Incentives for R&D Initiatives
The investment deduction for R&D is worth 13.5% of the acquisition value or qualifying asset, or 20.5% of the depreciated amount of the investment. R&D companies are also exempt from paying 80% of the personal income withholding tax of researchers in specific scientific fields.
Got Innovation? Get in Touch with VLAIO
Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), a governmental organisation responsible for stimulating growth, innovation and entrepreneurship, is the ideal funding partner for companies in any domain developing new products and services. Depending on the type of R&D activity and company, VLAIO offers a number of support programs and grants that can fund up to 50% of your innovation project. Even further, VLAIO offers expert advice and guidance to businesses seeking to sharpen their competitive edges.
Connect with Flanders Investment&Trade
Flanders Investment&Trade (FIT) is your source of expertise regarding every aspect of doing business in Flanders. This governmental organisation provides comprehensive support for companies seeking to invest in and source from Flanders via it is 90 offices worldwide. In addition to it is broad network of stakeholders, working with FIT brings companies the benefits of tailored data, business-relevant insights and expert advice tailored to their unique situation.
In partnership with VIB, VLAIO and FlandersBio, Flanders Investment&Trade offers the services of a skilled life sciences welcome team dedicated to providing support and guidance to foreign life sciences and biotechnology investors in Flanders. Visit web address to get in touch.
Flanders Investment&Trade (FIT)