Scientific and Technological Strengths

The maps below illustrate six key science and technology areas where Belgium has real strengths in a European context. The maps are based on the number of scientific publications and patents produced by authors and inventors based in the regions.

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The maps in the left column above show a high volume of scientific production in some Belgian provinces in food, agriculture and fisheries, ICT, nanoscience and nanotechnologies, biotechnology, and environmental science and technologies. It is mainly in the provinces of Flemish Brabant and Eastern Flanders that these high volumes of scientific production are visible on the maps, reflecting the presence in these provinces of the two largest Belgian universities: Leuven and Ghent. In all the fields mentioned above, Belgium also displays high scientific excellence (based on citations, with Average Relative Citations above 1.35 and a share of scientific publications within the 10% most-cited above 13%), with the notable exception of nanoscience and nanotechologies.

Other fields where Belgian scientific production is excellent include science related to materials, new production technologies, construction, other transport technologies, and security. The number of scientific publications has been increasing very rapidly in the case of construction technologies. Maps on the right side show high volumes of patenting in all six fields in the vast majority of Belgian provinces, revealing clear synergies between scientific strengths and technological innovativeness. In most of those fields, both Flemish and Walloon provinces exhibit high volumes of patenting.

The maps show that in these key technological fields nearly the whole of Belgium is part of a transnational knowledge-intensive macro-region which includes also parts of the Netherlands and parts of Germany. Based on patenting activities, Belgium is the most specialized EU Member State in materials and the second most specialised (after Denmark) in biotechnology. Construction is also a strong technological specialisation area for Belgium. Biotechnology is the area with the strongest growth of patenting activities since 2000.