Weekly Policy Update: CBSA Hosts Ecosystem Briefing and Roundtable Discussion with Belgian Ambassador Jean-Arthur Régibeau

This week, CBSA was honored to host a dynamic briefing and roundtable discussion for Belgian Ambassador Jean-Arthur Régibeau. Our community appreciated the opportunity to share an overview of Colorado’s life sciences ecosystem and learn more about Belgium’s innovation on a global scale. The Ambassador was joined by trade representatives specializing in life sciences from Flanders Investment and Trade and Wallonia Invest & Export. 

CBSA staff provided Ambassador Régibeau a briefing of our life sciences ecosystem which covered the Association’s priority areas: 

  • Capital + Growth  
  • Policy + Advocacy   
  • Education + Networking
  • Workforce Cultivation

A diverse cohort of CBSA members then had the opportunity to engage in a thoughtful and productive discussion with members from the Ambassador’s delegation, which help set the foundation for mutual growth between both our flourishing life sciences ecosystems. A common theme throughout the briefing was a shared vision of discovering and developing healthcare solutions that enable patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. 

If your company is interested in learning more about potential trade or investment opportunities with Belgium, please contact CBSA Vice President, Michael Crews: mcrews@cobioscience.com 

Background on Life Sciences in Belgium 

Belgium’s life sciences industry is based primarily in the Dutch-speaking Flanders region (Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent). The industry is comprised of start-ups to established local firms and multinationals: the entire value chain – from research and discovery to development and commercialization – is represented. This includes representation from the biotech, medtech, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare sectors.  

Within the European Union, Belgium is a leader in the following categories:  

  • #1 for clinical trial procedure speed   
  • #1 for biotech market capitalization   
  • #2 for clinical trial applications per capita 
  • #2 for pharma and biotech patent applications per capita
  • $3 for number (bio)pharma researchers per capita

In recent years, many companies that started as university spin-offs grew rapidly have been acquired by leading multinational companies: Ablynx (Sanofi)TiGenix (Takeda), and Multiplicom (Agilent). Each of the region’s five universities has strong and innovative life sciences departments, particularly the universities of Leuven (KU Leuven) and Ghent (UGent).   

  • 25,000+ graduates in health studies, ranging from medicine to medical diagnostics and pharmaceuticals. This represents around 2.2 graduates per 1,000 inhabitants, which is well ahead of the figures for nearby countries such as France (1.5), the Netherlands (1.0), and Germany (0.3).    
  • 1,000+ graduates in CAR-T-relevant disciplines such as biochemistry, biotech, bioengineering, cell & gene technology, and biomedical sciences.    
  • 1,500+ graduates in biological and related sciences.

Three of the region’s four strategic research centers are focused on R&D and innovation efforts for life sciences: 

  • VIB focuses on biotech in all its facets. Its team of scientists from numerous countries has been responsible for major scientific breakthroughs in cancer research, immunology, neuro- and microbiology, medical biotech, etc. In addition, VIB provides advanced life sciences training and coaching.  
  • imec concentrates on nanotech and digital technology. It plays a crucial role in designing electronics for pharma and healthcare, for example, all while providing access to leading expertise in e-health and e-care innovations.   
  • VITO dedicates its research to cleantech and sustainable development, including the field of sustainable health. The research center works, among other developments, on new applications, measurement methods and biomarkers for preventive healthcare and health management. 
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