Belgian industry plays a prominent role in the aerospace sector. Many aircraft and spacecraft are being producted in Belgium including Airbus and Boeing planes, Falcon 7X jet aircraft, F-16, Rafale and the Ariane 4 and 5 launch systems and SPOT earth observation satellites. A lot of major aerospace related companies operate in Belgium inter alia: Sonaca, Newtec, Alcatel ETCA, Verhaert Space, SABCA, Spacebel, Tracys and Techspace Aero. Belgium is also home to some key professional aerospace associations, whose goals include: involving their members in international R&D programs; efficiently monitoring technological advances; taking part in European technological innovation programs and helping to match scientists’ supply of technology to the industry’s demand.
The food industry in Belgium is fundamental to whole manufacturing industry. Its main subsectors are: chocolate, meat industry, dairy products, beverages sector and sugar. It is also interlinked with other economic sectors like agriculture, pharmaceuticals, retail trade, chemical industry, logistics and packaging. According to the Second Marshall Plan the Walloon Region fosters and funds innovative projects designed to give companies a competitive edge in research, innovation, training and exports in agri-food sector. The strategic fields are marked as following: food safety, technological development and eco food packaging. This dynamism in sector development is reflected in the fact that some of the world’s leading multinationals food companies, including Danone, Nestlé, Unilever, Ferrero, Coca-Cola and Monsanto, have chosen to site their headquarters in Belgium’s capital Brussels.
In 2008, Belgium turned out 724,498 vehicles, most of them destined for the export market. With brands like Ford Genk, Opel Antwerp, Van Hool (buses), Audi Forest /Brussels, Volvo Europe in Ghent, and Truco Belgium established a strong foothold in the vehicle production market. The automotive sector is also a major employer in Belgium. In 2007, automotive sector was employing 100,000 people, including 25,000 in assembly plants. Therefore Belgium is an attractive country for vehicle manufacturers. Not only it offers highly qualified professionalists with a proven track record of high productivity, it also has the ports to enable rapid distribution and research centers to test parts and components and look into the potential of emerging technologies.
There are over 140 biotechnology enterprises in Belgium which is 7% of all such enterprises in Europe. This sector in Belgium accounted for 16% of Europe’s turnover and almost 10% of R&D expenditure. Growth of this sector in Belgium created several biotechnology clusters containing companies, universities and organizations active in the biotechnology industry. In Flanders there is established tradition of innovations and discoveries in biotechnology, especially in genetics and botany where scientists achieved some significant breakthroughs. Consequently, a big number of Flemish biotech companies have become key players on the international market. Wallonia is also strengthens its position as a scientific innovator, with high-tech companies which took over the role previously played by heavy industry. The Brussels-Capital Region has built up a highly attractive, emerging biotechnology sector, owing the success of its efforts to close collaboration between universities.
Belgium’s information and communication technology sector contributes more than 4% of Belgium’s gross domestic product, and between 1997 and 2007 it accounted for a sixth of the country’s growth in GDP. The IT Industry Competitiveness Index from 2009 ranked Belgium in eighteenth position worldwide. To stimulate employment and innovation in this sector, researchers’ salaries are being partially exempted from social security contributions and taxes. Moreover, the public authorities have developed a Digital Plan for Belgium to help it become heart of digital Europe. All of Belgium’s three Regions are working actively in the ICT domain. Flanders has several clusters in leading-edge domains ranging from digital signal processing (DSP) to telematics, graphic communication or multimedia production. Apart from an ICT cluster, Wallonia has a specialist agency, the Walloon Telecommunications Agency and competence centers especially dedicated to these technologies. This proactive policy is already bearing fruit, for the sector’s two most emblematic companies, Google and Microsoft, recently started up operations at a high-tech business park in Mons. The new information and communication technologies sector occupies an essential position in the Brussels as well. Furthermore, the Brussels ICT sector contains nearly 2,000 companies, employs 30,000 people and generates annual revenue of 4.5 billion euro.
Belgium is a world leader in the pharmaceuticals industry. Pharmaceutical sector is hiring almost 30,000 workers in Belgium and year by year this figure is growing. Pharmaceuticals account for more than 10% of all Belgium’s exports. Therefore, both Belgian government and the pharmaceuticals industry are willingly investing in developing of this sector. Each year pharmaceuticals industry dedicates over €1.5 billion into research and development. This represents 40% of all private investment in R&D in Belgium, which is double comparing to European average. The government also supports the pharmaceuticals industry – and R&D in general – through range of tax incentives and discounts.
Transport and logistics
Belgium is the perfect country to set up a European logistics base, headquarters or distribution center because of its infrastructure, skilled workforce and the IT opportunities. One of the main reasons for selecting Belgium as a is its location at the center of Europe, between northern and Mediterranean parts of continent. London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam are all less than 300 km away and Belgium’s very highly developed transport network, comprising roads, waterways, railways and airports enables to be transported quickly and easily. Another key component in Belgium’s transport