Friday June 16th 2023



Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) today launches the Startup.Flanders service platform, which positions Flanders internationally as an innovative hub for start-ups. In addition, FIT is releasing the second edition of the Dealroom-based report 'The State of Flanders' Startup Ecosystem'. This report provides insight into the performance and challenges of the start-up landscape in Flanders.

FIT CEO Joy Donné: "FIT offers targeted services to Flanders-based and international start-ups through the Startup.Flanders platform. But that is not enough. Policies must follow suit. A weakening of the Flemish venture capital market due to the tax reforms currently under discussion must be avoided at all cost. These would be very detrimental to the international strength of start-ups."

Worldwide, start-ups are playing an increasingly prominent role in the economic fabric, in terms of innovation, additional jobs and value creation.  As of today, the  Startup.Flanders  platform – under the motto ‘Startup.Flanders: home for hungry startups’  – is claiming its place as the one-stop-shop for Flanders-based start-ups seeking to expand into foreign markets. At the same time, the platform offers guidance for foreign start-ups with investment plans in Flanders and attracts foreign venture capitalists who want to invest in Flanders’ start-ups.

Diversified services via Startup.Flanders

Startup.Flanders is promoting its services through various channels and positions Flanders as an innovative hub for start-ups:

  • The website is the central platform for information about service packages, research and data. It points the way to numerous programs, initiatives, events, tools and subsidies for Flanders-based and international start-ups.

  • Social media: Startup.Flanders is active on the professional social media platform LinkedIn,  via, to share news, updates and stories, announce events at home and abroad, and much more.

  • Events and conferences: Startup.Flanders organizes and participates in events and conferences, both in Flanders and internationally. This strengthens the contacts between start-ups, investors, policy makers and other stakeholders in the start-up ecosystem. Next major event on the calendar: on 20 September 2023, FIT and Startup.Flanders will host the first edition of the Flanders International Business Awards, during which the award for ‘Startup of the Year’ will be presented for the first time.

  • Collaborations and partnerships: Startup.Flanders works together with various partners, including government agencies, companies, investors, knowledge institutions, sector federations and innovation clusters. These collaborations increase visibility and reach.

  • Media and press: Startup.Flanders shares news and (success) stories about the start-up ecosystem and services in Flanders. This is to expand the Startup.Flanders community, among other goals.

  • Research and data: Startup.Flanders publishes data and trends on the evolution of Flanders’ start-up landscape on the Dealroom international data platform. These insights are shared with stakeholders and stimulate debates and conversations about the future of the start-up ecosystem.

The State of Flanders' Startup Ecosystem 2023

Today, FIT is also publishing the report 'The State of Flanders' Startup Ecosystem 2023'. This report is based on data from the Dealroom platform on start-ups, innovation, growth companies and potential matches between ecosystems (see PDF file in the attachment).  The publication contains insights into the trends and challenges of the Flanders start-up ecosystem and compares its strengths and weaknesses with other ecosystems.

Read: The State of Flanders’ Startup Ecosystem 2023

3 trends in Flanders’ start-up ecosystem

  1. The start-up ecosystem is mature

    Flanders’ ecosystem currently has around 2,500 start-ups, representing a total business value of around 36 billion euros in April 2023. This value has almost tripled compared to the 13 billion euros in 2018 (see p. 7 of the report).

  2. Deeptech is on the rise

    Innovation remains the spearhead of the Flanders start-up ecosystem. Flanders is one of the fastest growing deeptech hubs in Europe (see p. 34). Especially university spin-outs (see p. 31) and funds such as imec. xpand fuel that growth.

  3. Flanders’ investment funds are successful

    In 2022, Flanders-based venture capital funds accounted for 464 million euros in capital raised: a record (see p. 23).  These venture capital funds constitute a robust pillar in supporting Flanders-based start-ups. Furthermore, international capital is also finding its way to Flanders with increasing efficiency.  For example, 60% of investments in Flanders-based start-ups come from foreign players, with US funds accounting for the largest portion (see p. 3 and 24).

The importance of a favorable tax environment

The report 'The State of Flanders' Startup Ecosystem 2023' shows that venture capital funds in Flanders performed strongly in 2022, catching up with other regions.  Per capita, VCs invested 28% more than in the previous year. In this respect, Flanders also scores higher than the EU average for the first time (see p. 22).

Especially in times of global economic crisis, Flanders increasingly needs its own venture capital funds. Favorable and stimulating conditions are a must to ensure the sustained growth and international success of start-ups: from easy access to funding and talent development to a reduction in administrative and regulatory burdens.

FIT CEO Joy Donné: "With the Startup.Flanders platform, FIT is providing start-ups with even more targeted services. But more needs to be done. Policies must follow suit. In order to increase the international strength of start-ups, the availability of local venture capital funds must not be compromised. Certainly not at a time when they are desperately needed. I therefore argue that the Flemish venture capital market should not be weakened by the tax reforms that are on the table. After all, these directly affect start-ups, stifle their chances of international expansion and are detrimental to the competitiveness of the innovative and technology-driven knowledge economy that Flanders is."

About Startup.Flanders

With Startup.Flanders the Flanders-based start-up ecosystem claims a competitive place among the start-up ecosystems of other tech nations, regions and cities such as, La French Tech, Startup Sweden, Startup Estonia, Startup Lithuania, Startup Portugal and Startup Berlin. With a unique global presence in more than 70 markets, FIT is the only actor in Flanders ideally placed to connect Startup.Flanders in depth with start-up ecosystems worldwide.

Startup.Flanders strengthens the collaboration between start-ups, investors, companies, cities and the government. The result is greater international visibility for the start-up ecosystem and for Flanders as an international innovation and technology player.

FIT is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the activities of Startup.Flanders, which fits perfectly with FIT's role as a central internationalization actor in Flanders.