Top Innovation Trends And Industries In Belgium 2022

Published date08 November 2022
Subject MatterTechnology, Security, New Technology, Fin Tech
Law FirmInnovation Park
AuthorMs Julia Vorontsova

Belgium has long been established as an epicenter of innovation. With a multicultural, collaborative, and business-friendly landscape, the heart of Europe continues to attract key international players. It's not only a conduit of global trade and commerce but also fertile ground for a diverse range of pioneering industries.

The Belgian regions of Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels each offer unique advantages for industry-specific innovation startups, scaleups, and projects. Despite the unprecedented events of 2019 and 2020, Belgium saw an 8% increase in foreign direct investments (FDIs)'above the 2021 European average.

That's according to the EY Belgian Attractiveness Survey 2022, which ranked Belgium sixth worldwide (after countries with significantly bigger economies). The survey also noted new projects as the key driver of FDIs in 2021. Out of 245 investment projects (which created 6,970 jobs in 2021), 80% of them were new initiatives.

The European Commission also ranked Belgium fifth in its European and Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2021. As an innovation leader, the country performed particularly well in the following categories:

  • Attractive research systems (most cited publications, foreign doctorate students, and international scientific co-publications).
  • Use of information technologies (employed ICT specialists and enterprises providing ICT training).
  • Linkages (public-private co-publications job-to-job mobility, and innovative SME collaborations).
  • Employment impacts (employment in innovative enterprises and knowledge-intensive activities).
  • Innovators (business process innovators (SMEs) and product innovators (SMEs).

While sustainability and decarbonization are among Belgium's top priorities, the post-pandemic landscape has brought about new challenges. Creative solutions are emerging to navigate this "new normal," and international investors are noticing.

Whether you're an entrepreneur, CEO, or investor, innovation trends in Belgium can offer some valuable insights. Here are five groundbreaking developments worth noting.

CleanTech Takes a Front Seat

Belgium's cleantech ecosystem is focused on sustainability, transitioning to a circular economy, and reducing carbon emissions. Adopting clean energy initiatives such as the National Energy and Climate Plan 2030 is also a priority.

Cleantech trends and innovations among the Brussels-Capital, Flemish, and Walloon regions include:

  • Renewable energy
  • Green materials
  • Low-carbon construction
  • Sustainable mobility
  • Carbon capture, use, and storage
  • Circular waste management
  • Sustainable automation
  • Digital transformation

Renewable energy and sustainable construction remain two of Belgium's biggest cleantech industries. According to PwC's EU Green Deal Survey, solar energy remains the most-used source of clean energy in Belgium (87% vs. the EU average of 78%).

Wind energy is less developed than in other EU member states, while only 7% of Belgian businesses use hydrogen as an energy source.

But that's about to change. The federal government approved the Belgian Hydrogen Vision and Strategy in 2021, signaling a significant shift in renewable energy (and, therefore, more investment opportunities).

The strategy outlines four primary objectives and concrete actions, some of which are mentioned below:

  • Positioning Belgium as a leading importer of renewable molecules for the rest of Europe: Supporting hydrogen import infrastructures and developing a certification system and a register for RNFBOs.
  • Unifying Belgium's leadership in hydrogen technologies: Establishing a hydrogen testing infrastructure and an electrolysis capability of 150 MW minimum.
  • Striving towards a robust hydrogen...

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