One of the most inspiring stories in Greek mythology tells how Prometheus, ‘the visionary’, out of love for mankind, stole the fire from the Olympian gods and gave it to mankind. From that day on, the rise of human genius and technological progress was unstoppable. The human ability to bring light into the darkness, to keep searching creatively for more knowledge, for new solutions to create added value, that is
exactly the essence of innovation.


Or, as a manager of one of the many innovative Flemish companies aptly puts it: ‘the beauty of innovation lies in the fact that it is within reach of everyone on our planet. It is man’s inherent capacity to create growth and added value. It is an intellectual exercise that eclipses all other competitive advantages because they are only temporary.

Innovation is the key to creating growth and value and thus increasing the productivity and competitiveness of our companies. They are the beating lifeblood of our economy, creating prosperity and growth. Together, they form a resilient economic fabric that responds proactively to new technologies and societal challenges. Innovation is therefore the common thread running through my policy.

In recent years, Flanders has been catching up in terms of research and development expenditure. In 2019, we broke through the 3% of GDP barrier for research and development for the first time. This put Flanders well above the European average and puts us in second place in Europe after Sweden. In the coming years, we want to continue this effort with an additional 250 million euros for research and development and another 195 million euros for research infrastructure.


In this way, we will further develop our science policy based on the excellence criterion and encourage promising start-ups to grow internationally and conquer world markets with their technology. The necessary ecosystem is already in place.

Because Flanders already has a lot of assets to be a European innovation leader. There is our strong ecosystem around biotechnology and new medical and pharmaceutical solutions, but also our unique research network for the most advanced chips and digital applications. And also in the climate transition of basic industry in Flanders, chemistry and steel, innovation is the key to success!

Important here is that we must bring innovation to the people. By bringing technology closer to the citizen, we want to achieve a better understanding and greater trust in the work of scientists and technology managers. Such trust is essential for the rapid dissemination and social acceptance of new applications, the COVID crisis was an eyeopener here. It strengthens belief in human ability and hope and confidence in progress, thus contributing to a cohesive society and sustainable world.

The ‘titan’ Prometheus was chained to the rocks of the Caucasus as punishment for his theft, but human fire has not been extinguished since. Together with the Flemish Government, we want to continue his titanic work and give our entrepreneurs, researchers and citizens the necessary oxygen and fuel to spread that inspiring fire further.

Hilde Crevits
Vice Minister President of the Flemish Government
Previously Minister of Economy, Science Policy and Innovation, Work and Social Economy, Agriculture and Sea Fisheries.

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