Boosting the internationalization of Flanders, Belgium’s northern region, is not done in a vacuum. On the contrary! Under the motto “1+1=3” Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) surrounds itself with a solid team of structural partners to support international entrepreneurship. Today, the government agency signed new cooperation agreements with no fewer than 21 organizations.

The new partner team will join forces as of January 1, 2022. Their ambition: to stimulate growth by accelerating the internationalization of Flanders’ economy together. Both Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon and FIT CEO Claire Tillekaerts were present at the signing of the partnership agreements, which took place in the Errera House in Brussels.

21 partners, 1 strategy

“Flanders Accelerates!” forms the backbone of the new partnerships. This is the official internationalization strategy for Flanders’ economy, which has been coordinated by FIT since 2016 and was updated earlier this year. From 2022 to 2026, FIT will further carry out the updated strategy alongside the new partner team.

The partners include sector federations and clusters, but also bilateral chambers of commerce, entrepreneurial organizations, incubators and so on. Each of them focuses on essential themes for the internationalization of Flanders: from trade relations to peer learning and fostering connections with foreign innovation networks.

Moreover, in terms of core business, they are in line with the strategic core domains of “Flanders Accelerates!” These are all top ecosystems in which Flanders could reach even higher levels internationally: life sciences & health, food, solution-driven engineering & technology, smart logistics, and sustainable resources, materials & chemistry.

These are the 21 structural partners from 2022 to 2026

  1. Agoria, federation for the technological industry

  2. BCECC, the Belgian-Chinese Economic & Commercial Council

  3. BVA, the Belgian-Vietnamese Alliance

  4. BICCI, the Belgo-Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry

  5. The Blue Cluster, Flanders’ spearhead cluster for the blue economy

  6. DSP Valley, cluster organization for smart, digital technology

  7. essenscia Vlaanderen, sector federation for chemistry and life sciences

  8. Fedustria, the professional association for the textile, wood and furniture industry

  9. Fevia Vlaanderen, federation for the food industry

  10. flanders.healthTech, Flanders’ spearhead cluster for health technology

  11., cluster organization for life sciences

  12. FLEGA, Flanders’ games association

  13. Flux50, Flanders’ spearhead cluster for energy

  14. Medtech Flanders, cluster organization for medical technology

  15. SIM, Flanders’ spearhead cluster for sustainable materials

  16. The Beacon, company network for the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence

  17. Entrepreneurs’ organization UNIZO Internationaal

  18. employers’ organization VKW Limburg

  19. VCKK, the Flanders-Chinese Chamber of Commerce  

  20. VIL, Flanders’ spearhead cluster for logistics

  21. Voka, Flanders’ network for businesses  

“With these 21 organizations as structural partners, Flanders Investment & Trade brings together an ambitious team for the next five years,” comments Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon. “This way, various domains of knowledge and expertise come together with a crystal-clear, common goal in mind: to make Flanders’ economy and business world prosper internationally, adding to our economic growth, prosperity, resilience and job creation. There’s no doubt that internationalization is an essential pillar for the socio-economic resilience of our region. Indeed, both Flanders’ exports and foreign direct investments in the region have played a crucial role in the post-COVID relaunch over the past few months.”

Complementary win-win

This is not the first time that FIT has joined forces with a range of strategic partners. Between 2017 and 2022, the government agency did just that.

“The new partner team therefore includes some familiar faces who are once again on board,” confirms Claire Tillekaerts, managing director of FIT. “This strengthens us in our conviction that these partnerships are a win-win, and that they enable us to share both expertise and responsibility as equal, complementary partners. This unique set-up undoubtedly promises to bear fruit again between 2022 and 2026. Moreover, many of the partners focus on the same research and technology themes as FIT’s Science & Technology team. This synergy creates additional opportunities to put Flanders’ innovative ecosystems on the global map.”

The structural partnerships come with a total annual budget of EUR 1 million. This will enable FIT to help expand the partner organizations’ capacity over the next five years to support the objectives of “Flanders Accelerates!” Together with FIT, the partners will launch numerous initiatives, such as seminars, economic missions and events. They will also support a variety of initiatives to share knowledge and promote Flanders internationally as an innovative (tech) region across different sectors and expertise domains.