Belgium, the place to be for biopharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing.

On the initiative of essenscia, the Belgian Federation for Chemistry and Life Sciences Industries, several Belgian private and public partners decided to work together to promote Belgium as the place to be for biopharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing. 

Why invest in biopharma in Belgium?
Belgium shows exceptional results in terms of innovation and industrial development, especially in the field of biopharmaceuticals.

The following figures give ample evidence of this :

      • the largest number of medicines in development in the world per capita
      • the highest number of phase 1 clinical trials in Europe per capita & highest number of phases 1 to 3 clinical trials per capita
      • the highest concentration of life-science employees in the world
      • the second largest pharmaceutical export country in the world in absolute figures
      • the 7th largest investor in the world in biopharmaceutical R&D
        Furthermore, Belgium offers major advantages for potential investment and career opportunities. These make of Belgium a center of excellence in biopharmacy.

        A unique academic and industrial network

        • 16 universities within a 100-kilometer radius
        • a high concentration of university hospitals
        • highly specialized research institutes with an international reputation, in e.g. central nervous system, oncology, cardiovascular research, vaccinology/inflammation, tropical diseases, immunology, and converging technologies
        • highly specialized research centers in medical imaging, molecular visualization, medical devices and diagnostics
        • a broad offering of science parks, with incubation & innovation centers

        A supportive regulatory and political environment

        There is a strong political commitment to nurturing Belgian leadership in biopharmaceuticals and stimulating this key asset of the Belgian economy. Some of the recent measures include:

        • the fastest approval for phase 1 clinical trials in Europe (2 weeks)
        • newly established Federal Agency for Medicines and Health
        • full support of public authorities for the development of biotech clusters, bringing together universities, companies and research centers -- BioWin (Health Cluster of Wallonia), FlandersBio (Biotech Cluster of Flanders) and Bio&Pharma in Brussels

        A very favorable public opinion

        • The highest appreciation of the biopharmaceutical industry in the world: 84% of Belgians have a favorable or very favorable opinion of the industry (2006 figures) and Belgium is the only country where the public’s appreciation is increasing, which is essential to attracting the highly educated as well as investors
        • In the annual survey of the country’s most attractive employers, the pharmaceutical industry consistently ranks highest.

        A competitive tax environment, especially for research companies

        The combination of several focused tax measures makes Belgium one of the most attractive investment locations for biopharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing in the European Union. These measures include:

        • companies and branches can substantially reduce the nominal corporate tax rate by a deduction of notional interest on their adjusted equity capital
        • the lowest effective European tax rate on income derived from the licensing of patents or the use of patented products (maximum tax only 6.8% and can be reduced in combination with notional interest deduction and other tax deductions)
        • a 80% exemption payroll withholding tax for scientific researchers (PhD, engineers and master degrees)
        • increased investment deduction and flexible depreciation rules for R&D investments
        • refundable R&D tax credit system
        • successful ruling practice can confirm in advance how the tax law will apply to investments
        • no capital duty (no proportional registration duties in case of capital increase of a company)
        • dividend withholding tax exemption generally available on profit repatriation to both European Union and treaty countries

        The quality of life

        Quality of life is an important deciding factor for setting up a business or developing an investment project. Belgium’s high human development index makes it a very attractive country to live in. A few assets:
        • the lowest real estate costs in Europe
        • one of the best and most accessible healthcare systems in the world
        • a developed transport network
        • a multicultural and multilingual environment
        • many green areas, a. o. in Brussels, the ‘greenest’ capital in Europe
        • many cultural associations for expats and high-level international schools
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