Prosperity – R&D expenses

Largest private investor in R&D

Source: Commission for federal cooperation, Working group CFS/STAT;
calculations Federal Science Policy Office, primary economic activity classification (NACE2)

R&D spending is a key indicator of how innovative an industry is, driving the technological advances that are vital for a sustainable future. R&D spending in the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry totalled €3.6 billion in 2015, an increase of 65% over a decade. The sector is the largest private investor in R&D, accounting for 63% of total R&D expenditure by all Belgian manufacturing companies in 2015, compared to 54% in 2005. Life sciences companies account for 85% of the sector’s total R&D spending.

About 60% of R&D spending occurs in-house, with the balance spent by third parties on behalf of a client company. This high level of third-party spending reflects the strong degree of collaboration between companies and technology centres to boost innovation.

The R&D-intensity of the Belgian economy (in both the private and public sectors) amounted to 2.5% of GDP in 2015. The R&D-intensity of the sector (expressed as in-house R&D spending/value added) reached 12.5% in the same period. Thanks to these efforts, the industry plays a key role in enabling Belgium to achieve the European target of investing 3% of GDP in R&D.

Sector Initiatives

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