12 April 2023

What is Research and development? 

Research and development (R&D) refers to activities aimed at developing new products, processes, and technologies or improving existing ones through scientific and technical research. This can be carried out by businesses (startups, sme’s and large enterprises), universities, research institutions, and other organizations. So how do you get started in the innovation landscape?

The Belgian tradition of research and innovation 

Belgium has a strong tradition of research and innovation, and the country has a highly skilled workforce and a well-developed infrastructure to support R&D activities. The government also provides various incentives, grants, and tax breaks to encourage businesses to invest in R&D and to support the development of innovative products and technologies. 

Some of the key areas of R&D include (but are not limited to) biotechnology, information technology, renewable energy, and healthcare. Belgian businesses and universities have made significant contributions to these fields, and the country is home to several world-renowned research institutions, such as the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC). 

Overall, R&D is an important driver of economic growth and innovation. By investing in these activities, businesses and institutions can create new products and services, improve existing ones, and enhance their competitiveness in the global marketplace. 

Which actors have an important role in the R&D landscape? 

The Belgian R&D landscape involves various actors including: 

Government bodies 

The Belgian federal and regional governments play an important role in supporting R&D activities through funding, tax incentives, and grants. The main government bodies involved in R&D funding and support include the Belgian Science Policy Office, the Research Foundation – Flanders, and the Walloon Region Directorate-General for Economy, Employment, and Research. 

Research institutions and universities  

Belgium is home to many research institutions and universities that conduct cutting-edge research in a wide range of fields. Some of the top research institutions in Belgium include the VIB (Flemish Institute for Biotechnology), the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC), and the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK CEN). 

Private sector  

The private sector also plays a crucial role in the Belgian R&D landscape, with many companies investing in R&D activities to drive innovation and competitiveness. Large multinational corporations such as UCB, Janssen Pharmaceutica, and Solvay are all based in Belgium, as well as many innovative startups and SMEs. 

Innovation hubs and clusters 

Belgium has several innovation hubs and clusters that bring together key players in the R&D landscape to collaborate, network, and drive innovation. Some of the most notable innovation hubs in Belgium include the Antwerp Management School, the Brussels LifeTech Cluster, and the Biotech Campus Ghent. 

Overall, the Belgian R&D landscape is characterized by a diverse range of actors, including government bodies, research institutions and universities, private sector companies, and innovation hubs and clusters. These actors work together to drive innovation and support the development of new technologies, products, and services in a wide range of fields. 

R&D consultancies 

R&D consultancies can play an important role in the innovation landscape by providing specialized expertise and support to enterprises, research institutions, and government bodies involved in R&D activities.  

What is the key role of a consultancy in your R&D journey?  

Strategic planning 

R&D consultancies can help enterprises and other organizations to develop and implement strategic plans for R&D activities. This can include identifying key research areas, assessing market opportunities, and developing R&D roadmaps to guide innovation activities. 

Technical expertise 

R&D consultancies can provide technical expertise in a wide range of fields, including engineering, life sciences, and information technology. This expertise can help to support the development of new products and services, as well as the optimization of existing ones. 

Funding support 

R&D consultancies can help enterprises and other organizations to identify and apply for R&D funding opportunities, including grants, tax incentives, and other forms of financial support. 

Project management 

R&D consultancies can support the management of R&D projects, including project planning, execution, and monitoring. This can help to ensure that projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards. 

Market analysis 

R&D consultancies can help enterprises and other organizations to assess market trends and opportunities, as well as to identify potential barriers to commercialization. This can help to ensure that R&D activities are aligned with market needs and that new products and services have a strong market potential. 

How can you prepare to implement R&D fiscal tax incentives? 

Overall, R&D consultancies can play a valuable role in the innovation landscape by providing specialized expertise and support to organizations involved in R&D activities. But preparation is key and there are many ways in which you can optimise your business before implementing fiscal tax incentives.  

Boosting innovation in your company through fiscal incentives requires careful planning and a strategic approach. Here are some steps you can take: 

Identify the available fiscal incentives 

Research the different fiscal incentives available in your country or region that are aimed at encouraging innovation. These may include tax credits, deductions, and exemptions, as well as grants and other financial support. 

Determine eligibility 

Review the eligibility criteria for each fiscal incentive to determine if your company qualifies. For example, some incentives may only be available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or companies that are engaged in specific industries or activities. 

Assess the potential benefits 

Evaluate the potential benefits of each fiscal incentive for your company, including the amount of financial support available and how it can be used to support innovation. 

Develop an innovation plan 

Develop a plan for how your company can use the financial support provided by the fiscal incentives to support innovation. This may include investing in research and development activities, hiring new staff, purchasing new equipment, or acquiring new technologies. 

Apply for the fiscal incentives 

Apply for the fiscal incentives that are most relevant to your company’s needs and goals. Be sure to carefully follow the application procedures and provide all required information and documentation. 

Monitor and evaluate 

Monitor the progress of your innovation plan and evaluate the impact of the fiscal incentives on your company’s innovation activities. Use this information to make any necessary adjustments and to continually improve your company’s innovation efforts. 

By taking these steps, you can use fiscal incentives to boost innovation in your company and gain a competitive advantage in your industry. 

To further encourage investment in R&D+I, our FI Group consultants help identify, implement and maintain the necessary financial processes. We support you in understanding and intercepting available R&D+I opportunities.   

Yvette Poumpalova

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