• World Biz Magazine

IN WALLONIA, 500 MILLION CONSUMERS ARE WITHIN ONE SINGLE DAY BY ROAD



Wallonia is a successful and welcoming region which has taken its future firmly in hand and opens its arms wide to you. It offers many assets and benefits that have convinced many foreign investors to locate their companies there.


AN ACCESSIBLE REGION

Lying at the heart of Europe, Wallonia (the French-speaking region of Belgium) is able to access a market of up to 500 million consumers within one day. ​Regularly cited among the top most attractive regions, Wallonia offers a favourable environment for business, especially thanks to a well-established culture of partnership and consistent economic growth. Furthermore, the development of a company in Wallonia is facilitated by easy access to capital, which makes it possible to find appropriate funding, and by a particularly varied real estate offering.


TOP RANKING INFRASTRUCTURE

According to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2019, the Walloon motorway network and rail network are among the most dense in Europe. By lorry, it is possible to reach a population of almost 60 million inhabitants in 4 hours and an area comprising about 20 major cities in 8 hours. In terms of rail, the main private industrial connections to the national and international network allow companies wishing to be effective and environmentally-friendly to opt for rail or for combined rail/road transport.


WALLONIA, INSIDE PORT OF EUROPE

Connected to the major ports of northern Europe, the Wallonia river network establishes the junction with France, Flanders, the Netherlands, Germany and beyond with the main transatlantic and transoceanic lines.

​The Autonomous Port of Liège, first Belgian inland port and third inland port in Europe (21 million tonnes and 44,000 containers per year) has easy access to major European ports.


NEAR BRUSSELS, CAPITAL OF EUROPE

Wallonia is near Brussels, the headquarters for major international institutions, the head office for many multinationals and home to more than 300 international law firms or consultants. Also, the Belgian capital offers no fewer than 21 international schools and, along with Washington, it is one of the largest journalism centres in the world. More than 100 foreign banks have set up branches there.


> 8th largest cargo airport in Europe

> 1st densest road network in the world


FINANCIAL INCENTIVES

Based on the determined criteria, an investment bonus may be granted to companies investing in Wallonia. Foreign companies that invest in Wallonia can receive investment aid based on criteria Including:

  • Investment location

  • Activity sector

  • Project type

  • Company type (SME or large organisation)

  • The number of jobs created


Investment aid takes the form of a capital grant which is a percentage of the total investment calculated on the purchase of:

  • Land

  • Buildings

  • New machines and equipment

  • Intangible assets (patents and licences) with a maximum of 25% of the total of the investment programme


KEY SECTORS

The concept of enterprise networks (clustering) has imposed itself around the world as a productive method of functioning and a source of innovation. In order to reinforce regional competitiveness in sectors in which it already has potential, Wallonia decided to develop an enterprise network policy from 2005 via competitiveness clusters.


​THE WALLONIA CLUSTERS

The Competitiveness Clusters' policy is part of Wallonia's wish to confirm its status as a competitive industrial space on a global level by focusing major resources in promising economic areas in terms of growth and employment. Therefore, the Walloon Region has selected six successful priority areas corresponding to a booming activity in the world in which Wallonia has successful companies and research centres: life sciences, agri-food, engineering and new materials, transport and logistics, aeronautics and space and environmental technologies.


Agri-food

With a turnover of more than €8 billion and 21,395 jobs, the food industry is one of the pillars of employment in the Walloon industrial sector. Furthermore, it has great growth potential in promising sectors and is a global leader in some of them: ingredients, healthy food, processed meals, specific products and an area of recognised quality, etc. WagrAlim, Walloon competitiveness cluster for the agri-food sector focuses mainly on collaboration between manufacturers, universities, research centres and training centres, with the common goal of creating value, improving performance and positioning itself on international markets on the basis of innovation. The Cluster has defined four strategic areas: Nutrition-health, Industrial efficiency, Bio-packaging, and Sustainable sectors.


​​The Agrifood cluster in figures:

  • +200 members & regional partners

  • 36 certified Cluster projects

  • 142 products and services developed

  • 18 patent applications

  • +8,700 people trained

  • KEYFOOD: a technological support platform

  • 4th Country in the world in terms of food production

  • 4 Renowned Belgian universities

  • 4 days needed to start a business

Cluster Website: www.wagralim.be


Engineering and New Materials

Constantly at the cutting-edge of technology throughout the entire history of the industrial revolution, Walloon industry was built around glass and steel in the 19th and 20th centuries and has embraced new technologies and new processes in the 21st century. Spin-offs, SMEs, large businesses, the region comprises complete ecosystems that allow companies to develop and innovate in order to become global leaders in cutting-edge sectors. The field of mechanical engineering is vast because it includes all the competences that require mechanical work: space sector, automobile industry, mechanised industrial processes, assembly lines for drugs, household appliances, chemical industry, and more. Robotics and automation are closely linked to mechanical engineering and constitute sectors in which Wallonia excels. Indeed, Wallonia's qualities for precision, reliability and speed in electromechanical engineering have led the region's engineers to make it a sector of excellence.


​The aim of the MecaTech Cluster is to be a driving force for the entire Walloon mechanical engineering sector by developing business and employment through the preparation and implementation of innovative international projects and relying on networks that bring together large businesses, SMEs, universities, research centres and skills centres. The MecaTech Cluster comprises four strategic lines around which it structures its projects: Materials and surfaces of the future, Global forming technologies, Microtechnologies and mechatronics, and Maintenance and reliability.


The Engineering and New Materials cluster in figures:

  • 272 members

  • 102 certified projects

  • Total budget: €300 million

  • 3 innovation platforms

Cluster Website: www.polemecatech.be


Aeronautics and Space

The aeronautics and space sector occupies a key position in the Walloon economy and constitutes one of its major assets for the future. The sector's development is based on the existence of a metal-working industry and, in particular, on a network of specialist sub-contractors (precision mechanics or armament for example).

Wallonia is the region in Belgium with the largest number of companies working in the aeronautics industry (more than twice the number of companies located in Flanders). Based essentially around four major enterprises (Safran Aero Boosters, SABCA, Sonaca and Thales), the industrial network of the aeronautics and space sector mainly comprises SMEs.


Walloon aerospace know-how is particularly apparent in the province of Luxembourg, which has a business park centred on the space sector (Galaxia) and an ESA (European Space Agency) station recognised as a centre of excellence in the fields of security and defence. In 2016, the European Commission selected the Galaxia site for the installation of the terrestrial maintenance platform for the Galileo constellation, a European satellite navigation system. Created in the frame of the Marshall Plan in 2006, SKYWIN has more than 150 members, bringing together companies, research centres, universities and training centres working in the space sector in Wallonia. This partnership process is aimed at revealing synergies around common innovative projects with a view to creating but also maintaining jobs in the sector.


The Aeronautics and Space cluster in figures:

  • 150 members

  • Turnover of more than 1.6 billion (90% export)

  • 7,000 direct jobs

  • 72 certified projects since 2006

  • Total budget: €225 million

Cluster Website: www.skywin.be


Transport and Logistics

Wallonia positions itself among the leaders of the transport and logistics sector, in particular thanks to its excellent accessibility to major consumer markets, its inclusion in the major European freight corridors, the high density of its road and rail networks, as well as the integration of its interior waterways into the European network. Promises concerning transit times from an EDC located in Wallonia are respected like nowhere else. These assets have led major names in the logistics sector to locate to Wallonia: TNT, Skechers, Baxter, Dow Corning, Alpargatas.

  • 9th most attractive country for e-commerce.

  • 1st Belgium cargo airport - Liege Airport.

  • 8th Largest cargo airport in Europe - Liege Airport.


According to a study by PwC, Wallonia is the third most attractive region in Europe for installing an e-commerce distribution centre. This result confirms the strong progress of Belgium in other studies concerning e-commerce, in particular that of AT Kearney, in which it progressed from 24th to 7th place in one year. Logistics in Wallonia is the Competitiveness Cluster devoted to the Transport, Logistics and Mobility sector.

Cluster Website: www.logisticsinwallonia.be


Environmental Technologies

Aware of the challenges concerning global warming, the green economy is a priority in Wallonia as much from an economic as an environmental point of view. Thus, the public authorities grant different types of aids to companies that invest in favour of the environment. Also, Wallonia has companies, know-how and resources that allow it to seize the opportunity to make greentech a vehicle for growth. Belgium and Wallonia provide incentives for investments that favour the environment and are focused on research and development. For investment projects located specifically in geographic areas eligible for European structural funds, additional European incentives may be added to the purely regional incentives.


The GREENWIN cluster brings together more than 200 companies involved in the development of the green economy. Its aim is to support innovation, favour the development of collaborative innovation projects with a view to the growth of the Walloon industrial fabric and the creation of jobs in booming markets. The cluster's strategy is based around three strategic fields of activity: Chemistry and biochemistry, Construction, and Environmental technologies.


The Environmental Technologies cluster In figures:

  • More than 20,000 jobs in Wallonia and Brussels

  • Exports represent about 40% of the economy's total

  • 31 certified projects (27 in R&D and 4 in training)

  • 87% Recycling - Belgium is the European champion

  • 10 - Belgium among the top ten investors in renewables

  • 14th bio-fuel producing country

  • Total budget of more than €80 million

Cluster Website: www.greenwin.be


Life sciences

Wallonia counts a number of well-known names such as GSK, UCB, IBA and Baxter. Also, smaller innovative companies whose success is multiplying (Bone Therapeutics, Celyad, Univercells, MaSTherCell SA, Belgian Volition) have also demonstrated expertise that has rendered the region unmissable for the life sciences sector. Wallonia offers a series of aids for R&D which aim to help companies reinforce their innovation potential, acquire external knowledge for a project's implementation, ​conduct a research project, carry out a development project, create a spin-out from technologies mastered by the company but not exploited, protect innovation or even prepare a European intervention application or acquire the Eureka label.


BioWin unites the Walloon stakeholders (businesses, research centres and universities) who are invested in research, development and production of innovative products and services. The BioWin cluster has defined 4 essential strategic development axes that seek to support academic and industrial excellence in Wallonia in the domain of health but also to take on the challenges posed by a fast-growing sector, through:

  • Calls for R&D projects that bring businesses, universities and research centres together.

  • Actions to create visibility and international networking (in partnership with AWEX - the Wallonia Export-Investment Agency).

  • Custom training programs tailored toward the specific needs of the bio-industry.

  • Support for the creation of common infrastructures and technological platforms.


Life sciences cluster In figures:

  • 164 businesses (of which 7 are world-leaders in the sector: Baxter, Eurogentec-Kaneka, GSK, IBA, IRE, UCB and Zoetis).

  • 36 R&D projects

  • 17 training projects

  • Specific training followed by 15,000 people

  • 214 partners

  • 104 patents generated

  • Total financing: 114.08 million Euros

  • Support in the creation of 3 technological platforms

Cluster Website: www.biowin.org


Digital Wallonia

Adopted in 2015, the Digital Wallonia plan marks the Walloon Government's wish to do its utmost to make Wallonia a connected and intelligent territory where technological companies are leaders recognised on a global level and a driving force for successful industrial mutation and where digital innovation is at the service of the quality of education, the openness of public services and the well-being of citizens.


Key Figures:

  • 2nd Best connected EU country

  • 6th Most digital country

  • 6 Wallonia Nobel Prizes

  • 3rd Most innovative country - Fraunhorfer Institute

  • 7th strong innovator in the world

A GOOD QUALITY OF LIFE

Whether because of its varied real estate offering, its healthcare system which is one of the best in Europe, or the many opportunities it offers for leisure activities, Wallonia is a region where life is good. Its exceptional quality of life attracts investors, foreign students and the large numbers of tourists who visit each year.


The Wallonia Export-Investment Agency (AWEX), is a Public Interest Organisation in Wallonia created in 1998. It constitutes a one-stop shop for all foreign companies interested in locating to Wallonia or expanding their existing activities and is the complete partner for all Walloon companies wishing to develop overseas. To find out about opportunities in Wallonia please contact AWEX through: www.investinwallonia.be