On Tuesday, representatives of the Belgian government, academia and the health and biotech industry signed at the initiative of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo a joint charter on Tuesday pledging to (further) strengthen Belgium’s position in biopharma R&D and production. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was also present.
By producing and exporting 700 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the rest of the world, Belgium has yet again demonstrated its leadership and expertise in health and innovation in recent months.
This success is not the result of mere chance, but rather the result of ongoing multi-year investment in research and development as well as in the creation of an ecosystem that connects industry leaders, smaller players, academia and the public authorities.
Today Belgium ranks third in biopharmaceutical exports, totalling €56 billion. The sector employs more than 40,000 people directly and many more indirectly.
At the initiative of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and in the presence of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the Belgian government as well as all stakeholders from academia and the health and biotech industry pledged on Tuesday, 26 October to continue this genuine success story.
A charter was signed on the basis of a report on the current state of the sector. Various working groups – including all players in our ecosystem – will work over the next six months to determine how to translate the recommendations made into action points and concrete policies particularly in terms of support for innovation, economic attractiveness and training. One of the challenges is to have the talent available to meet the needs of the sector.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo: “The coronavirus crisis was a real wakeup call: health is at the very heart of every individual’s life. For years Belgium has invested massively in its talents, in research and development and, thanks to numerous partners, in production tools capable of providing tangible responses to 21st century diseases and pandemics . We should be proud of this and we should definitely keep going. In a changing and more competitive international environment, we must bolster our ecosystem and equip ourselves with a long-term strategic vision to ensure that Belgium takes its place as the Health & Biotech Valley of the future at the very heart of a connected Europe. That’s our ambition.”
Jean-Christophe Tellier, CEO of UCB: “The platform for HST companies and the government has made tremendous progress in recent years. The future now lies in consolidating and strengthening this ecosystem. If we are successful, we can become the Boston of Europe. And with the strengths we have in Belgium, we can trigger a snowball effect. We’re here today to put this ambition into action. As a Belgian and global company headquartered in Belgium, it is essential for UCB to be a partner in this exercise.”
Paul Stoffels, Scientific Director at Johnson & Johnson: “I am proud that, with Janssen in the Health, Science and Technology group, we are helping to shape this ambitious long-term strategy for the biopharmaceutical industry in Belgium. As a key player in the Belgian ecosystem, we share the Belgian government’s ambition to continue strengthening Belgium’s position as a Health & Biotech Valley. Our country has a lot to offer. And we will strengthen that by joining forces.”
Patrick Florent, CEO of GSK and Chairman of HST (Health, Science and Technology)*: “Belgium has always been the heart of our global vaccine division thanks to our research and development centre and our vaccine production centre, which is the biggest one in the world. We are very proud to make a significant contribution to this strong and unique Belgian biopharmaceutical ecosystem. The launch of this long-term vision by the Belgian government, bringing together all stakeholders, will make it possible, by taking the necessary measures, to enhance our competitiveness with a view to keeping a step ahead of diseases. GSK is delighted to take part in this initiative and, in so doing, make it possible to define specific actions designed to bolster this changing sector.”
Karel Van De Sompel, Country Manager Pfizer Belgium: “Pfizer is proud to be a part of this event and of our prime minister’s long-term vision for our country. We will put our energy into supporting the strategic plan that was presented today and look forward to any innovations we will be able to bring to patients in this biopharmaceutical valley.”
Caroline Ven, CEO of pharma.be: “With its ambitious long-term vision for the biopharmaceutical industry, this government recognises the importance of maintaining and even enhancing Belgium’s leading position in Europe and the world. Pharma.be, along with all its members, is happy to support this project in order to continue making progress, thanks to sustained research and development, and to allow patients to access these innovative medicines as quickly as possible. Together with the Belgian government, pharma.be will gladly take up the challenge of making Belgium an international pharma valley and a leader in cutting-edge treatments for patients.”
Frédéric Druck, Secretary-General bio.be/essenscia: “For bio.be (which is part of essenscia), it is a privilege to be part of this ambitious R&D bioplatform. Let us ensure that it is the catalyst for creating an investment climate conducive to Belgian biotech innovations and pioneering production platforms in the future. A change case whereby we can all make the most of Belgian biotechnology – together.