Departement Economie, Wetenschap en Innovatie


 The Department of Economy, Science and Innovation (EWI) prepares, monitors and evaluates policy in the Economy, Science and Innovation policy area. Through this we aim to develop Flanders into one of the most advanced and prosperous regions in the world. Our driving forces are the promotion of:

  • Excellence in scientific research
  • An attractive and sustainable business climate
  • A creative, innovative and entrepreneurial society


The interplay between the economy, science and innovation holds out unique opportunities to develop a future-oriented long-term strategy. Working in a climate of openness and cooperation, we tailor our ideas to those of our partners in our own policy area and with the other policy areas. We formulate our policymaking proposals both proactively and at the request of the competent ministers.

EWI also monitors the policy cycle by critically evaluating the effectiveness of policies that have been implemented and adjusting the approach on the basis of objective results.
We communicate regularly about developments and future prospects with regard to our activities. We maintain close contacts with stakeholders, as this is an excellent means of enhancing our knowledge and expertise and ensures that we provide added value in terms of decision-making − not only at regional level, but also in federal and international policy bodies. Internationalization and globalization are having a growing impact on our work environment. We encourage Flemish participation in worldwide research and innovation and tailor economic policy to the international dimension of the Flemish economy. We also involve developing countries through science sharing.

The Flemish government agreed through its Pact 2020 to strive for a greener and more sustainable economy, in particular a higher share of renewable energy by 2020. For more information see: www.ewi.be

Funding in (industrial) biotechnology

The Department of Economy, Science and Innovation participates in research programmes in two possible ways: on the one hand as financer and co-organizer, on the other hand as partner and executor.In the first case, the results are for the benefit of a particular research domain or a particular sector. The department usually has an input in defining the research topics and calls.In the second case, the department aims to gather knowledge by exchanging practices, conducting studies or research, or even by making information available and cooperating with researchers.

The region of Flanders has several instruments for financing of fundamental/strategic research and for applied research of the Flemish in its public knowledge institutions such as universities and research institutes.

Our department coordinates and evaluates these funding mechanisms.
The programmes are run and specific grants are allocated to a researcher or institution by the operational agencies FWO (fundamental research) and IWT (applied and industrial research). The programmes are open to all fields. A large proportion of the grants are dedicated to the area of Life Sciences and Biotechnology.

FWO - the Fund for Scientific Research (www.fwo.be)
IWT - Institute for Innovation by Science and Technology (www.iwt.be) finances relevant R&D for societal and/or economic advantage  and applied research projects. IWT (Flanders/Belgium) also participated in the 2nd ERA-IB call for proposals. IWT also grants feasibility studies and innovation networks.

The Public Research Centres most involved in (industrial) biotechnologies are the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology  (www.vib.be ) with a large department for Plant Systems Biology and the Flemish Institute for Technological Institute (www.vito.be) which carries out research on sustainable use of energy and materials. Also under VITO, the MIP (Environmental Innovation Programme,  www.mipvlaanderen.be ) finances projects which will contribute to the green economy, one of the leading policy themes of the Flemish government.

Private research

The Life sciences companies in Flanders have activities in medical, agricultural or industrial biotechnology, and the majority of them have R&D activities. Some also offer technologies or specific services.

Flanders houses about 143 companies with biotech activities. In these life sciences companies, over 13,000 employees are active. 69 companies are related to health care (=red biotech), 15 companies have agricultural (=green biotech) and 24 companies have industrial biotech activities (=white biotech) and about 35 companies are biotech providers (www.flandersbio.be). IB companies are connected in the CINBIOS platform which is coordinated by FlandersBio.

International cooperation

In the area of Industrial Biotechnology the Flanders’ Government supports the following support measures through EWI:

  • An agreement with UNIDO for the financial support of a trust fund managed by UNIDO. This fund will set up an international industrial biotechnology network and will facilitate the access to knowledge and technology in the field of industrial biotechnology. That way UNIDO can contribute to economic development in less developed countries and regions, this with the support of sustainability criteria for community and environment. Specifically the trust fund provides an annual 250.000 euro (funded by EWI), of which about 30% for projects in cooperation with developing countries. The  Flemish partner in this trust funds is the Institute for Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries (www.IPBO.be)
  • The Biobase Europe Interreg IV project (stimulation of sustainable social-economic development in European border regions) is a collaboration between Flanders and Zealand (Netherlands) with a total budget of 21 million euro. Bio Base Europe is the result of a partnership between Ghent Bio-Energy Valley  (a PPP between the harbor and city, and the university  of Ghent), and the Biopark Terneuzen and their respective stakeholders. It is Europe’s first open innovation and education center for the biobased economy (www.biobaseeurope.eu).  On the Flemish side the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant is a flexible and diversified pilot plant that aims to close the critical gap between scientific feasibility and industrial application of new biotechnological processes. The Bio Base Europe Training Center is an education, network and exhibition center promoting the development of a sustainable biobased economy. It offers general and company-specific training and connects closely with the market demand.
  • Interreg NEW project ‘ARBOR’ on Biomass for Bioenergy coordinates activities from EU member states from the north west  of Europe (W-Germany to Ireland), several Flemish organisations from the provinces of East and West Flanders are participating.


Contact details -representative EWI
Monika Sormann
Strategy and Co-ordination Division - Policy Advisor

Flemish Government
Department of Economy, Science and Innovation (EWI)
Koning Albert II-laan 35 bus 10
1030 Brussels
E-mail: monika [dot] sormann [at] ewi [dot] vlaanderen [dot] be
Tel.: +32 2 553 58 14