Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin’s strong tech sector is a good match for the Benelux region’s emphasis on technology and cybersecurity.
Europe’s Benelux region (comprising Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) could be primed for collaborating with Wisconsin companies on technology and cybersecurity.
Belgium and the Netherlands nearly doubled the number of companies in the information technology industry between 2008 and 2020, and both countries boast a highly advanced tech sector, high-quality digital infrastructure, and a tech-savvy workforce—supported by government subsidies and tax incentives.
The European Union has declared that digital transformation is one of the top priorities in its post-COVID investment recovery plan, and cybersecurity is a chief concern. Since the pandemic, cyberattacks and digital threats have risen significantly. As a result, investments in cybersecurity have increased more than 10% in the Benelux region from 2020 to 2022, as government agencies, universities, and private companies have worked together to seek solutions.
Some of the largest global tech companies—such as Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Oracle—have established their European headquarters or research and development centers in Benelux countries. The combination of world-class tech clusters, low business costs, and government support has created a strong business environment, not only for advancing cybersecurity but also for sectors such as artificial intelligence, web-enabled health services, the Internet of Things, and nanotechnology. One challenge, though, is a shortage of highly educated professionals, and that is likely to result in a hunt for talent and for new, foreign business partners.
Wisconsin tech companies could provide a good match for Benelux businesses. In Wisconsin, the tech sector represented about 7% of the state’s workforce and 7% of its economy, according to a CompTIA report in 2020. In Madison, the number of technology jobs jumped 47% from 2014 to 2019, Wisconsin Public Radio reported, based on data from CBRE, a San Francisco investment company that tracks national real estate trends.
Collaboration between companies in Wisconsin and in the Benelux region could create added value, accelerate innovation, and advance efforts at digitization and cybersecurity.