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This week, Ghent will be the European capital of biotechnology and life sciences. On 14, 15 and 16 May, Bio€quity brings together the most important biotech investors and growth companies. On 17 May, 1200 European biotech experts and business leaders will meet at the Knowledge for Growth conference.
Editorial office / Gent

In Flanders, the biotech sector accounts for more than 20,000 direct and 80,000 indirect jobs. This is shown by figures from sector organization Together with VIB (Flemish Institute for Biotechnology), FIT (Flanders Investment & Trade), VLAIO (Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) and City of Ghent, succeeded in convincing Bio€quity to opt for Ghent for the investors’ congress. Ghent has more than 70 biotech companies, for example in the Science Park in Zwijnaarde.

‘Flanders is one of the five most important life sciences clusters in Europe’, says Claire Tillekaerts, top woman at Flanders Investment & Trade. ‘If our region wants to continue to play at the highest level, it must market its potential more internationally.’ This ambition fits in with the internationalization strategy of the Flemish economy: Vlaanderen Versnelt!

Strong growth

‘That more than 100 young growth companies from all over the world get the chance to convince investors in Ghent is important for the growth and innovative strength of the sector’, says Willem Dhooge, Managing Director of sector organization ‘The life sciences industry is growing strongly in Flanders. Every year, 10 to 15 start-ups are set up here, including from the academic world and large companies. A number evolving surprisingly quickly to medium-sized companies with a clear international focus. ‘

1200 experts

The knowledge for growth congress, at ICC Gent, is one of the most important regional biotech and life sciences conferences in Europe, with more than 1200 Belgian and international experts and business leaders from more than 450 organizations in the life sciences.

Willem Dhooge: ‘Flanders has a leading position in the life sciences within Europe. Just think of VIB (Flemish Institute for Biotechnology) and IMEC which are world leaders in their research domains. In addition, there is an ecosystem of strongly growing or established companies, such as Ablynx, argenx, Galapagos and Janssen Pharmaceutica. That is why wants to be an active collaboration platform between our stakeholders and the more than 300 companies in the sector. ‘

Stock value

Belgian companies represent 18% of the stock market value of all European biotech companies (122 billion euros). Almost half of the capital in our companies comes from the United States. In the meantime, 4 Belgian biotech companies have been listed on Nasdaq. Argenx went to this American technology fair last year. The life sciences and biotech sector has a growing number of vacancies.