Minister-President Jan Jambon is leading a 258-strong trade delegation from Flanders during the Belgian Economic Mission (BEM) to Japan from 5 to 9 December 2022. 110 companies from the region – accounting for half of the total Belgian company delegation – are taking part. Among them are 14 Flanders-based startups to whom Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) offers a 3-day, tailored program. FIT does so under the brand ‘Startup.Flanders’, announced by Minister-President Jambon in April to draw international attention to Flanders as a startup hub. Startup.Flanders positions itself worldwide as a gateway to the Flanders’ startup ecosystem.
Japan is the third-largest economy in the world after the US and China. It is the largest goods export market in Asia for Flanders. What’s more, numerous Japanese companies invest in Flanders because of the region’s strong innovation and knowledge economy. Japan is looking beyond its borders to find partners for specialized applications and research. In this regard, Flanders acts as a crucial and complementary R&D partner. In addition to connections with research institutions, Japanese companies have also been increasingly seeking collaborations with high-tech startups for several years.
For the first time during a BEM and complementary to the official program, FIT is therefore organizing a dedicated startup program. Among the participants are two incubators: The Beacon and Scaleup Flanders (Agoria). In addition, 14 technological startups from different sectors and various growth stages are taking part: Autonomous Knight, Behault Mining, Toqua, Settlemint, Planticus/Ask Attis, BREEX, AYES, Flexible Robotic Solutions, Sentigrate, A-membranes, Ekopak, Amotek, Magics Technologies and Alberts. The program offers a solid mix of pitches, corporate innovation workshops, B2B conversations, networking and visits to incubators and venture capital providers.
Joy Donné, CEO of Flanders Investment & Trade: “Japan is of strategic importance for Flanders-based companies, especially as a stepping stone toward a broader presence in the area. Under the Startup.Flanders moniker, we give a new perspective to this economic mission. Our startup track is a lever for new business opportunities between young innovative companies from both Flanders and Japan who respond to societal challenges and contribute to our region’s economic growth.”
Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon: “Flanders’ startup ecosystem is one of the strongest growers of the past 5 years. They are an essential 'export product' of our region and act as ambassadors of Flanders’ competitive and innovative business environment. In addition to the more established companies that take part in our trade delegation, startups deserve all our support to reach international success. After all, these young companies help shape Flanders’ future. The Japanese industry welcomes startups from our region with open arms. I am confident that, with such a vibrant startup ecosystem, strong connections will be created with the Japanese industry during this mission.”
Besides 14 startups, Flanders’ delegation consists of representatives from some 90 Flanders-based companies, 7 chambers of commerce, researchers from 12 university colleges and universities, and policy officers from 2 government agencies. In addition to providing an individual B2B program for participating companies, FIT also organizes seminars and events with a focus on climate technology, includes solutions for decarbonization, hydrogen energy and offshore wind energy, life sciences, logistics, the maritime industry, and sustainable food.
Japan and Flanders in facts and figures:
Japan is Flanders’ 11th-most important destination for exported goods.
Japan is Flanders’ 4th export market outside the EU, with a share of 1.64% in the region’s exports.
Japan is Flanders’ largest goods export market in Asia.
About 200 Japanese companies are active in Flanders, including Daikin, Nipro, Toyota and Honda.
In 2021, Japan was the 7th-most important country of origin of foreign investments in Flanders.