We grow business

West Flanders has a number of strategic business clusters. Each is characterised by tradition, experience, business acumen and dynamic collaborations with suppliers and academic centres of excellence. This is the perfect environment for innovation with global impact. In fact, West Flanders excels in many market segments, and is cutting-edge in ‘New materials’, ‘Food’, ‘Blue Energy’, ‘Machine Building & Mechatronics’ and ‘Drones’.

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Market segments

West Flanders excels in several market segments. Our economy is cutting-edge in the areas of ‘New Materials’, ‘Food’, ‘Blue Energy’ and ‘Machine Building & Mechatronics’. We do - of course - also host companies in other market segments.

  • 45% of Flemish M&M investments
  • 35% of Flemish food investments
  • 64% of Flemish textiles investments
  • 70% of European roller coasters run on West Flemish wheels

New materials

An important cluster is New Materials with leading companies from the textile and plastics industry. The cluster is firmly anchored in West Flanders, especially in the south. Originally flax and textile companies, they have evolved to become global leaders in plastics, textile and design.

  • 700 companies
  • €1.2 billion added value
  • 14,000 direct employment
  • €30 million turnover


The strong West Flemish agro-food sector is world-class, especially our deep-frozen vegetable processing industry in Mid-West Flanders. The REO Auction, the Port of Zeebrugge as a ‘food port’ and various knowledge centres form an excellent support network.

  • 90% of Belgian exports in frozen food
  • 2 million tonnes of potatoes per year
  • 1.8 million tonnes of meat per year
  • 250,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables per year
Read more

Blue energy

West Flanders offers a unique range of ‘Blue Energy’ test facilities in and nearby the port of Ostend. Wind, tides and waves provide a continuous flow of power. Our province welcomes wind farms, offshore energy, hydraulic engineering, transport and ports, aquaculture and blue biotechnology.

Click here to open our infographic and discover at a glance what we do concerning Blue Economy.

  • 4 offshore wind farms
  • #5 in Europe in offshore wind capacity
  • Supplied with blue eletricity
  • Dedicated science park & unique test facilities

Metal sector

With more than 40,000 people employed in the metal sector in West Flanders, Machinery & Mechatronics is a leading cluster. West Flanders and the collective centre of the Belgian technology industry work closely together to support innovative companies to become new market leaders.

  • 42% of the Flemish mechatronics industry
  • 200 SMES and some very large players
  • €900 million added value
  • 40,000 direct employment


By 2050, one third of the European population will be older than 60. Also in West Flanders, demand for care is increasing. With more than 54,000 employees, the healthcare sector is now one of our largest markets. This offers great opportunities for innovation and product development.

  • 54,000 direct employment
  • 40% in hospitals
  • 31% in residential care
  • 29% in home nursing


Strong incentive package for R&D. It’s no secret that R&D comes with a high price tag. Companies are increasingly seeking cash grants and tax incentives to ease their financial burden – and with this in mind - West Flanders has put itself firmly on the map.

  • 85% of innovation earnings exempt from taxation
  • 13.5% of investment or 20.5% of depreciation value deductable
  • 80% of withholding tax on research personnel recoverable
  • 25-60% support for R&D projects

Minimise costs

Kickstart your business in Flanders with minimum labour costs. When you set up a base in Flanders, you’ll have access to a variety of employment subsidies and structural social security contribution (SSC) reductions.

  • 1ST employee – lifelong exemption from paying SSC
  • Next 5 employees – substantial SSC reductions
  • 22.8% tax exemption for night and shift work
  • Up to €29,750 tax-free allowances for expatriates


Enterprises that make commercial investments and educational efforts part of a strategic investment project in Flanders may be eligible for government funding. The financial support will be split up into basic funding (transformation project) and bonus funding (creation of additional jobs).

  • 8% basic funding for investments
  • 20% basic funding for training
  • Bonus funding max 25% of basic funding
  • More hires = more bonus

Tax incentives

To make things even more interesting for you, our government has installed several corporate tax incentives.

  • Corporate income taxation will be lowered to 25% in 2020
  • 100% tax exemption for dividends
  • Losses of subsidiaries can be deducted
  • Incremental notional interest deduction on capital growth