4 December 2023

The greening of the Flemish economy is further underlined by the increased performance of biobased sectors in 2019-2020. Sectors with a significant share of biobased, including agriculture, food, pharma and waste treatment, show positive indicators such as increasing added value, turnover/production value, employment and labour productivity compared to 2018.  

Pharma leads the way 

The greening of the Flemish economy is accelerating. By 2020, 34% or one-third of the physical Flemish economy (i.e. excluding services) was based on non-fossil raw materials. The pharmaceutical industry is leading the way with a biobased share already approaching 50% by 2020. Green chemistry is also growing strongly (+24%). The total biobased economy grew three times as fast (+21%) as the traditional, physical economy (+6%) over five years.  

  • The Flemish government allocated 20 million euros in 2021 for research, innovation and cooperation between industry and agriculture.     

In the agricultural sector, the increased focus on sustainability has led to improved performance. Both turnover and production value have increased, with biobased practices playing a central role. Efforts in the food industry to use more biobased raw materials are resulting in a positive growth trend, with added value and employment rising in this sector.  

The pharmaceutical sector, as a leader in greening the economy, shows striking figures. With almost 50% of its activities based on bio-based raw materials, the sector contributes significantly to the bioeconomy. In 2019-2020, the pharmaceutical sector has shown impressive growth in both biobased and total value added, with a remarkable 44% increase in the entire pharmaceutical sector. 

Waste management is also benefiting from a greater focus on biobased approaches. Implementing sustainable practices in waste treatment not only contributes to environmental preservation, but also stimulates economic growth, as evidenced by rising figures in 2019-2020.  

Regions show similar trends  

Similar trends can be observed in Wallonia and Brussels. The agricultural sector in Wallonia and urban initiatives in Brussels contribute to the growing biobased economy in these regions. The pharmaceutical and food sectors in Wallonia are also showing positive developments, while Brussels stands out with innovative projects focused on urban agriculture and sustainable urban development.  

The rising performance of bio-based sectors not only demonstrates the growing acceptance of sustainable practices, but also highlights their economic viability. These positive developments provide a solid basis for further optimisation and innovation, and confirm the role of Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels as forerunners in the sustainable transition. The path to a green economy is set, with biobased sectors contributing not only to economic growth but also to a resilient and sustainable future for all regions. 

With FI Group as your reliable partner, you can navigate the evolving landscape of R&D funding and fully leverage the available incentive measures. 

Yvette Poumpalova 

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