RIO Country Report 2016: Belgium


The 2016 series of the RIO Country Report analyses and assesses the development and performance of the national research and innovation system of the EU-28 member States and related policies with the aim of monitoring and evaluating the EU policy implementation as well as facilitating policy learning in the Member States.

This report offers an analysis of the R&I system in Belgium for 2016, including relevant policies and funding, with a particular focus on topics of critical importance for EU policies. The report identifies the main challenges of the Belgian research and innovation system and assesses the policy responses implemented. It was prepared according to a set of guidelines for collecting and analysing a range of materials, including policy documents, statistics, evaluation reports and online publications. The quantitative data are, whenever possible, comparable across all EU Member State reports. Unless specifically referenced, all data used in this report are based on Eurostat statistics available in January 2017.

The report identified for Belgium two main R&I policy challenges:

  • Promote fast growing enterprises in innovative sectors. Despite Belgium's scientific strength and the substantial science-industry collaboration, the economic impact of these efforts remains a concern. In particular, the number of fast-growing firms active in innovation-performing sectors is low and, consequently, also their share of employment. High-growth enterprises account for only 5.9% of all employment, compared to the EU average of 9.1%
  • Addressing the expected shortage of human resources for R&I. While the labour force in Belgium is generally well-qualified, the share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates is comparatively low at 15.74% (EU28: 25.44%). Demand has also exceeded the number of graduates for the last years. Shortages in these fields are considered as a potential major barrier for future innovation and economic growth. It is thus paramount to increase the number of STEM-qualified people in every region as this high-skilled labour force is necessary for further improving R&I performance.