Belgium, country of great ideas and innovations


Never before has Belgium submitted so many applications to the European Patent Office (EPO) as it did in 2021, despite the pandemic. 2,485 applications to be precise. This is already an indication that more is being invested in research and development.

In 2021, a record 3.3% more European patents were filed than in 2020. By sector, the increase was particularly marked in the pharmaceutical sector, with 34.3%, taking it from 4th to 1st place. Biotechnology came second and medical technology third. Healthcare therefore accounted for the top three most active Belgian technology fields. This was followed by raw materials/metallurgy in fourth place, which submitted more than 50% more applications, and transportation and semiconductors in fifth and sixth place respectively, each with an increase of more than 25%.

Research institutes and universities together accounted for no fewer than five of the ten most active patent applicants. These were, respectively, the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (imec) (140 applications), KU Leuven (90), Ghent University (66), the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) (44) and UAntwerp (43). But the absolute leader was once again Solvay, with no fewer than 276 patent applications. Four other companies, namely Umicore (93), ZF CV Systems Europe (85), Agfa-Gevaert (65) and Melexis (48) completed the Belgian top 10.

Lastly, Flanders was the 10th most active region for patents in Europe.