Wallonia/Belgium: a global powerhouse in biomanufacturing

May 02, 2023

While Boston/Cambridge remains the world’s No.1 Biotech Hub, Belgium is not far behind and deserves a closer look.

Posted by Wallonia Trade and Investment

While Boston/Cambridge remains the world’s No.1 Biotech Hub, Belgium is not far behind and deserves a closer look.  Belgium is well-known for its strength in biotechnology research and innovation, but equally important for its ambitions to become a true biotech valley.  According to recent studies (BCG, Deloitte), the Belgian Life Sciences ecosystem is one of the best in Europe.  The country has been internationally recognized as best-in-class in many areas. Ranging from being the logistics center of Europe, ensuring a lower cost of living, and offering highly attractive R&D incentives to having the highest labor productivity. The country is now becoming the leading biotech hub in Europe driven by the expansion of the biomanufacturing companies and is now attracting additional investment across the whole life Sciences industry with unbeatable tax incentives.


According to Deloitte’s 2022 study “Belgium as clinical trial location in Europe”, Belgium ranks #2 for the year 2020.  Below are other key European rankings for Belgium relating to R&D, patents, employment and exports.


Over the years the Belgian region of Wallonia has created a vibrant innovation ecosystem by equally investing in, and supporting the growth of, scientific excellence and entrepreneurial leadership. The region’s strengths are evident in cell & gene therapy, immunotherapy, vaccines and manufacturing of biologics, as it ranks top in the world.


Overall, there are more than 350 entities registered in Wallonia, a higher density than Germany or France. Furthermore, the contribution of pharma to Wallonia’s economy is 10x higher than its closest neighbors. Biomanufacturing has become the most prevalent activity in the region with over 50,000 direct and indirect jobs. This remarkable growth has flourished thanks to the dense network of university research institutions and hospitals, thereby providing ample opportunity for research partnerships and recruitment.


Today, American companies come to Wallonia to buy expertise and technology that they do not have or that they cannot find elsewhere in Europe.  From 2020 to 2021, three American companies (Catalent Pharma, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Hologic) as well as a Canadian company (Nexelis) paid 1,174 million euros to take over five Walloon companies (MaSTherCell, Delphi Genetics, ImmunXperts, Henogen and Diagenode) as well as a subsidiary (Bone Therapeutics) in the life sciences sector. 


In order to keep attracting investment in R&D, Wallonia offers a series of aids which aim to help companies reinforce their innovation potential, acquire external knowledge for a project’s implementation, conduct a research project, carry out a development project, create a spin-out from technologies mastered by the company but not exploited, protect innovation or even prepare a European intervention application or acquire the Eureka label.


Want to know more about how Wallonia can help you grow your business by expanding your biomanufacturing activities to Europe?


Please join us on June 5th, 2023, at Tufts Launchpad | BioLabs for an informative FDI breakfast seminar on “Accelerating Access to the E.U. Market | Biotech Valley in Wallonia (Belgium)”.  This exclusive event is dedicated to Senior Executives of U.S. Biotech companies. The complete program and registration can be found here! We look forward to welcoming you.


Also, please feel free to visit us during BIO at our Belgian pavilion #1664 and meet with 60+ leading innovative biotech companies ready to explore business opportunities with you.


For more information, please contact the MassBio member Wallonia Trade and Investment.



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