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Biotechnology: Made in Belgium

February 1, 2022
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin and Belgium are both centers for biotech, and companies might want to consider collaborations or joint ventures.

Belgium has become one of the powerhouse countries for biotechnology in Europe and worldwide. Pharmaceuticals, which include a range of biotech products, amounted to 14.6% of the country’s exports in 2020. Belgian businesses account for 24% of the market value of Europe’s biotech industry and 10% of its research and development expenditures.

The key to Belgium’s leading position in the market comes from a wide range of innovation as well as collaboration among biotech leaders. The country was able to create an environment with great academic research, dynamic small and midsize companies, and large pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer, Novartis and Sanofi. It is home to research universities like KU Leuven and Ghent University. Startups have access to capital through private sources, such as venture capital funds, and public funds that include Flemish PMV, an independent investment firm with 100% of its stock owned by the Flemish government. Johnson & Johnson opened its first European JLABS life sciences startup hub in Belgium in 2018.

Strong cooperation and collaboration have been established among the universities, startups and large pharmaceutical companies. That allows Belgium to play a role in the complete supply chain, from research and development of biotech products to their production and, ultimately, distribution.

Wisconsin also has a vibrant biotech industry through strong cooperation among entrepreneurs, academia, state government and private investors. Cooperation or joint ventures between Wisconsin and Belgium could be a good way to initiate partnerships in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.
To get further insight into the Belgian biotech market, upcoming events could provide an opportunity to meet with local leaders in the industry.

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