Wallonia boasts long-standing experience in the field of life sciences. The region has attracted a large number of international players, takes pride in the cutting-edge medical care dispensed in its many modern hospitals, nurtures intense cooperation with the medical faculties of its universities and puts its trust in its highly qualified medical workforce.
The region has each link in the development chain firmly covered, from research to marketing, through production, clinical trials and drug registration.
Vaccines against measles, German measles, meningitis and cervical cancer are the direct result of Walloon research, as are modern epilepsy treatments or proton therapy.
A growth sector
The life sciences sector employs around fifteen thousand people in the region. It has grown exponentially over the past few years, as illustrated by one particular case: the company GSK Vaccines that employs 8.000 people, compared with 54 thirty years ago. The other key players include Baxter, Pfizer, UCB and IBA, a company specialising in proton therapy, or again Johnson & Johnson.
The life sciences and medtech domains covered by BIOWIN represent 23 % of Wallonia’s total export, which makes it the export sector number one ahead of steel and metal industry. Life sciences and biopharma are also top of the list for foreign investment in Wallonia, just behind the chemical industry. Between 2000 and 2013, foreign investments in life sciences totalled close to 1,3 billion euros and generated more than 3,000 new jobs.The life sciences and medtech domains covered by BIOWIN represent 23 % of Wallonia’s total export, which makes it the export sector number one ahead of steel and metal industry. Life sciences and biopharma are also top of the list for foreign investment in Wallonia, just behind the chemical industry. Between 2000 and 2013, foreign investments in life sciences totalled close to 1,3 billion euros and generated more than 3,000 new jobs.
The science parks, crucial partners of the biotechnology sectors
Wallonia’s science and technology parks cover no fewer than 593 hectares. They are home to more than 500 hi-tech companies (including 73 spin-offs) and employ around 12,400 people.
The major fields of activity of the science parks include life sciences, information technologies, chemistry, quality management, electronics, space, new materials, engineering, aeronautics and graphic arts.
Thanks to their organisation and their specific links with the universities and research centres, Wallonia’s Science and Technology Parks help give a new impulse to the region’s competitiveness. They inject added value into the innovations produced by the universities and research centres to be exploited by the companies based there.
Launched in October 2003, the SpoW, for Science Parks of Wallonia, is Wallonia’s network of Science Parks. It is the umbrella organisation for seven Science and Technology Parks in which (and close to which) world famous companies have set up in business:
- Louvain-la-Neuve Science Park (IBA, Pfizer, IRIS, GSK Biologicals… ),
- Liège Science Park (Eurogentec, Zentec, EVS…),
- Créalys in Namur (Océ Software, SGS, AIB Vinçotte, GSK Biologicals, Aseptic Technologies…),
- Aéropole in Charleroi (Johnson & Johnson, Caterpillar, AGC…),
- Initialis in Mons (Microsoft Innovation Centre, Polymedis, I-Movix, I-Care, Babel Technologie…),
- Qualitis in Enghien (Baxter, Natiss-Materia Nova, Valeo…).
- Novalis in Marche-en-Famenne
SpoW is on a mission to create ideal conditions to host Walloon and foreign companies working mainly in the field of hi-tech and to nurture relations between the business and academic worlds.
BioWin: Wallonia’s health competitiveness cluster
The BioWin competitiveness cluster with its human health focus, has been set up to pool all of the Walloon players in the field of innovation, research and training in the health sector.
The aims of the BioWin cluster are:
- To become the world leader within the next ten years in the cluster’s 3 priority areas: cancer, inflammation and brain disease;
- To create a new culture of openness and partnership conducive to innovation in Wallonia;
- To train, attract and retain a human capital in Wallonia with a reputation for excellence.
The cluster is mainly focusing its efforts around 3 therapeutic themes (cancer, inflammation and brain disease) and 5 technological themes (biomarkers, candidate drugs, predictive models, administration of drugs, medical devices). These are areas of innovation in which the Region excels in terms of expertise and critical mass.
100 companies currently make up the cluster, among them world leaders such as GSK Biologicals, UCB and Ion Beam Applications (IBA). These are joined by 9 universities grouped together into 3 academies, 13 research and training centres and 15 higher education institutions.