To give Flanders’ tech scene even more of an international identity. That is why Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon launched a brand-new digital platform during the third edition of the Flanders International Economic Summit (FIES) of Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT). In addition to providing an overview of the region’s start-up ecosystem, the platform also unlocks international business opportunities. As such, it connects promising tech actors from Flanders with potential investors, incubators and other members of the ecosystem. During FIES, Minister-President Jan Jambon also presented his first “State of Flanders Tech” on the recent evolution and current value of Flanders’ start-up ecosystem.
The Flanders Tech Ecosystem platform was built by data specialist Dealroom, a major reference in the international start-up landscape, in partnership with FIT and with support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as well as Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO).
Flanders Tech Ecosystem – flanders.dealroom.co – is more than an open-access database. Based on objective data and in full transparency, it provides a detailed picture of the nearly 2,200 start-ups in Flanders. It offers relevant information about the activities, capital rounds, valuations and business potential of Flanders-based tech players in numerous innovation domains, including flagship names such as argenx, Ablynx, Deliverect, Galapagos and team.blue. However, new start-ups also get more visibility via the platform.
At the same time, the platform is a powerful tool to connect start-ups and allows them to spot promising companies. In short, it’s an indispensable asset to help start-ups grow internationally, make Flanders’ start-up ecosystem better known worldwide, support talented entrepreneurs and developers, and inform potential investors.
By joining Dealroom, FIT connects Flanders’ start-up ecosystem with similar initiatives in more than 30 tech nations, regions and cities, including France (French Tech), the UK (Tech Nation), Canada (Start Alberta), the US (Atlanta), the Netherlands (Techleap.nl), Sweden (Startup Sweden) and the German cities of Berlin and Munich. In this way, the platform helps tech companies explore more opportunities for international trade, investment and collaborations.
During the FIES 2022 event, Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon also announced the main conclusions from the Dealroom report “The State of Flanders Start-up Ecosystem 2022”. This is the first-ever report on the economic impact and strengths of Flanders’ start-up ecosystem. FIT compiled this report in collaboration with Dealroom, offering insights into the evolution of the region’s start-up community in recent years.
Some keys insights from the report:
- Flanders’ tech ecosystem is home to more than 2,000 start-ups, representing a total enterprise value of around EUR 32 billion.
- 2021 was a record year for venture capitalist investments in Flanders: start-ups in the region raised over EUR 558 million, having tripled in five years’ time.
- 2022 started very strong. With EUR 292 million raised between January and April, Flanders’ start-up ecosystem could potentially raise EUR 876 million by the end of the year.
- With R&D expenditure reaching up to 3.3% of the region’s GDP, Flanders is one of Europe’s most proportionally funded R&D regions.
Both Flanders’ joining of the Dealroom platform and the new start-up report were officially launched during the Flanders International Economic Summit (FIES) on Thursday April 28. Under the motto “Let's catch up”, FIES 2022 offered its 280 participants even more. As such, POLITICO Europe tech reporter Pieter Haeck moderated panel discussions around three main themes that shape the future of internationalization:
1. Flanders’ start-up ecosystem
Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon revealed the region’s first start-up report in partnership with Dealroom. In a video testimonial, Yoram Wijngaarde, CEO of Dealroom, elaborated on the cooperation with FIT and the importance of having a company profile on Dealroom. Furthermore, Katleen Verleysen, CEO of miDiagnostics, also commented on the start-up report, while Zhong Xu, CEO of the Deliverect, shared a video testimonial about growing as a start-up and the role of FIT in Flanders’ start-up ecosystem.
2. E-commerce and sustainability
Dirk Tirez, CEO of bpost, debated with Heleen Buldeo Rai, author and researcher at the Université Gustave Eiffel. In addition, as part of a video testimonial, Maarten Bodewes, CEO of Loops, and Matthias Pletinckx, Country Manager at Budbee, discussed the crucial role of sustainability and internationalization in e-commerce.
3. The future of international trade
Among others, Roel Vandenbulcke, CEO of Hysopt, Sabina Ciofu, Associate Director of trade organization techUK, and Koen De Leus, Chief Economist at BNP Paribas Fortis, shared the most recent trends shaping the present and future of internationalization: from the green & digital “twin” transition to technology and trade promotion.