Flanders is European leader for investment in R&D

Flanders is European leader for investment in R&D
Flanders is an EU front-runner when it comes to investing in innovation. Credit: Belga

Flanders is a front-runner among Europeran regions when it comes to investing in Research & Development (R&D), according to figures published by Innovation Minister Jo Brouns.

The region invests 3.6% of its gross domestic product in R&D in 2020 – 1.4% more than the EU average, new figures from Statistics Flanders showed. The total budget Flanders invested in R&D increased by 0.25% since 2019.

"Our region is at the absolute top in the EU in terms of R&D investment. This confirms that Flanders is a truly knowledge-driven economy and society," said Brouns.

The region has now become the number one in Europe, overtaking countries that are internationally recognised for their innovation drives, such as Sweden (3.53%), Austria (3.20%) and Germany (3.14%).

"Innovation is not only a powerful tool to overcome the crisis, but also to tackle societal challenges, especially in the areas of environment, energy and climate," he added.

Long-term goal

The region has performed well despite the impact of the pandemic on its economy. According to Brouns, the "strong impetus provided by the crisis will continue to grow," given in part through the Flemish Resilience plan, which "supported the confidence to innovate."

In 2009, the then-minister for economy in Flanders Kris Peeters launched the 2020 Pact, which implied that Flanders would strive to spend at least 3% of its GDP on R&D.

In 2020, the total expenditure on R&D amounted to €9.588 billion, of which 72% was spent in the private sector and 28% in government.


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