Embark on a journey through Flanders' thriving agribusiness landscape, where statistics come to life, and success stories unfold.
- Flanders, snugly nestled in 13,625 km2, boasts a staggering 23,218 agricultural businesses. Among them, 621 pioneers focus on the cutting-edge realm of biopharming, pushing the boundaries of agricultural innovation (source: Statistics Flanders, 2021).
- While Flanders' size may seem modest, its impact resonates globally, making it a compact powerhouse driving agricultural advancements, generating an impressive €43.1 billion in agricultural exports annually. Fresh meat, dairy, and cocoa products take center stage, harmonizing with fertilizers, agricultural equipment, and chemicals in a grand production of agricultural commerce (source: Department of Agriculture & Fisheries, 2021 agri-commerce report, and Statistics Flanders).
- Flanders' agricultural sector is not just about numbers; it's about people. With 45,938 individuals contributing, the sector is a mosaic of talent and expertise (source: Department of Agriculture & Fisheries, 2021 sector barometer).
Flanders stands tall as an educational beacon, with universities like UGent, KU Leuven, and UHasselt producing specialists at the intersection of economics, bio sciences, engineering, and environmental studies. These institutions equip the workforce with a diverse skill set, ensuring Flanders' agribusiness sector thrives across multidisciplinary domains.
Flanders' incubators form a dynamic ecosystem intertwined with its universities. The likes of VIB, BioAccelerator, and Bio-Incubator Leuven provide cutting-edge facilities and support for bio and agrifood ventures. Agropolis in Limburg, Biotope, and ILVO further enrich the landscape, fostering innovation in agri- and horticultural domains.
Collaborative ventures with institutes like imec, VITO, and Flanders Make propel Flanders to the forefront of precision farming and automation. These strategic research centers drive innovations ranging from soil monitoring to harvesting robots, setting Flanders apart in the global agribusiness arena.
Flanders' institutes, such as Inagro and Flanders’ FOOD, play pivotal roles in research and development, offering expert guidance on sustainable farming techniques. They collaborate with universities, businesses, and testing grounds, providing a robust foundation for agribusiness growth.
Flanders' ecosystem thrives on a unique blend of academic expertise, cutting-edge research, and collaborative innovation. The seamless integration of universities, incubators, and research institutes creates a fertile ground for agribusiness success, distinguishing Flanders in Europe.
Flanders' agribusiness not only adapts to global trends but leads in shaping them. The integration of sustainability practices, advanced technologies, and a diverse talent pool positions Flanders as a trendsetter, ensuring sustained growth in an ever-evolving global landscape.
Flanders provides a welcoming environment for agribusiness investment! When choosing Flanders for your agribusiness operations or headquarters, you can benefit from:
- Government subsidies for R&D, innovation, strategic transformation, ecological initiatives, and overall growth; (evt. linken?)
- Tax incentives supporting various business activities;
- Fiscal options to reduce labor costs;
- Expertise from venture capitalists and banks specializing in life sciences and biopharmaceuticals.
In addition to the variety of agricultural firms, the presence of supportive scientific R&D is key to the thriving agribusiness industry in Flanders. In this respect, agribusiness in the region is intrinsically connected to other domains such as biotechnology, the biobased economy, life sciences, food science and engineering, harvesting technologies and more.
Green biotech in particular is one of Flanders’ long-standing strong suits, focusing strongly on consumer and industrial trends such as sustainability and eco-friendliness. Various organizations and research centers can help your business capitalize on these trends. Below are two prominent examples:
- VIB is one of Flanders’ strategic research centers and renowned worldwide for its groundbreaking life sciences and biotech research.
- flanders.bio is the umbrella organization of Flanders’ biotech firms, research organizations and capital providers, and aims to stimulate biotechnological knowledge exchange and promote entrepreneurship.
Case in point: Inari (US) sows seeds for agricultural revolution in Flanders
In 2019, American biotech pioneer Inari crossed the Atlantic and opened its first R&D facility outside the US. Where? At BioScape, a life sciences incubator that’s part of Ghent’s biotech valley in Flanders. With this move, Inari underlined its ambition to develop next-generation seeds that make crops higher yielding and more resilient in the face of climate change.
“Flanders is a leading biotech region,” says Ponsi Trivisvavet, CEO of Inari. “By calling on its research community, we reinforce our mission to revolutionize agriculture.” The fact that Inari means serious innovative business is also evident in its local partnerships. The firm works with biotech research center VIB and ILVO, an institute for agricultural research. “These partnerships allow us to tap into Flanders’ talent in genomics and plant biology,” Trivisvavet adds.
Universities and incubators at your service
Various of Flanders’ universities – such as UGent, KU Leuven and UHasselt – have specialized education and research tracks relevant to agribusiness. These include research departments for agricultural economics, bioscience engineering, environmental economics and more. Two prominent examples are UGent and VIB’s International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (IPBO) and KU Leuven’s Food Science & Nutrition Research Center (LFoRCe).
In addition, Flanders’ universities offer access to a number of bio-incubators for agri-food innovation, including:
- VIB Bioincubator Gent, which consists of an incubator room, a cold room, and six to seven air-conditioned laboratories.
- VIB agricultural biotech incubator Nevele, which offers access to high-tech greenhouse areas and ultramodern infrastructure for crop research.
- BioAccelerator Gent, which is part of the Ghent biotech valley and home to state-of-the art labs and offices with high-level specifications.
- Bio-Incubator Leuven, an innovative environment at the Arenberg Science Park where biotech firms can develop their ideas and technologies.
- Agropolis, a Limburg-based incubator for agri- and horticultural innovation, including a research and production space for the testing of new technologies.
- Biotope, an incubator program by VIB that backs biotech start-up teams through pre-seed funding, technology and business support, access to research tech, R&D facilities and co-working labs, dedicated mentorship, entrepreneurial coaching, etc.
Flanders’ Institute for Agricultural, Fishery & Food Research – abbreviated as ILVO in Dutch – conducts multidisciplinary research to assist agribusinesses in building ecologically, economically and socially sustainable activities. Feel free to contact ILVO regarding a range of services. These range from tailored advice to product development, lab analyses, safety and quality checks, certification services and so on.
Leveraging its professional research infrastructure, Inagro’s scientific and technical teams and partners develop farming and cultivation techniques that are as sustainable and innovative as they are practical to deploy. It does so in collaboration with a broad variety of partners including universities, university colleges, businesses and testing grounds.
In today’s world, both agribusinesses and food companies are facing complex challenges, ranging from climate change and globalization to raw materials scarcity and increasing automation. To make sure your company doesn’t have to tackle these challenges alone, Flanders provides support through spearhead cluster Flanders’ FOOD. Its goal? To increase the effectiveness of both the agricultural and the food industry. How? By lowering the threshold for access to scientific and technological knowledge.
Flanders is where highly specialized technologies in niche domains flourish – and the world of agriculture is no exception. Strategic research centers imec, VITO and Flanders Make, for example, are the driving forces behind a great variety of precision farming and farm automation innovations. These include:
- solutions for soil, weather, vegetation and water monitoring, mapping and management;
- the use of satellites and drones for variable rate irrigation and fertilization;
- automated tractors and other off-road vehicles;
- harvesting robots and cobots;
- and much, much more.
When deciding to establish activities or headquarters in Flanders, your agribusiness company can reap the rewards of:
- government subsidies and support for investments in R&D and innovation, strategic transformation, ecological efforts, growth and other domains;
- tax incentives to fund a broad range of business activities;
- fiscal options to help you cut labor costs;
- venture capitalist and bank funding experts that specialize in life sciences and biopharmaceuticals.