Research and Innovation System

The graph below illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of Belgium’s R&I system. Reading clockwise, it provides information on human resources, scientific production, technology valorisation and innovation. Average annual growth rates from 2000 to the latest available year are given in brackets.


The overall shape of the graph highlights the strong performance of the Belgian research and innovation system. Belgium scores higher than the EU average for the vast majority of the indicators. In particular, Belgium has a high quality public research and higher education system, characterised by a strong international openness. The quality of the Belgian research system is evidenced by the high share of its scientific publications within the top 10% most cited scientific publications worldwide , the strong position of Belgium in the context of the EU R&D Framework Programmes, as well as its attractiveness for foreign doctoral students. Its international openness is further evidenced by the highest “Collaboration Index” of all the EU Member States (1.33).

Belgium also performs well above the EU average for the two indicators on cooperation between public research institutions and firms (co-publications and business funding of public R&D), confirming the quality of the public scientific and technological base and highlighting its relevance for businesses. As shown on the graph, a weak point of the Belgian research system is a share of science and engineering graduates in the population aged 25-34 that is lower than the EU average. Combined with the overall ageing demographic in Belgium, this raises the question of how Belgium will be able to assure for the future the pool of highly skilled human resources necessary to keep an innovation-based economy running. However, the share of S&E graduates has rapidly increased in recent years.