Biotech companies enjoy a prominent place in Wallonia. Indeed, products from the chemical and the biomanufacturing industries are by far our leading export sector, with more than 30% of the Walloon total. At a European level Wallonia is considered as key player in life sciences. We should rightfully be proud of this, but we mustn't rest on our laurels. This is why the Wallonia Export & Investment Agency will continue to attach specific importance to the growth potential of the biomanufacturing sector, which is essential to remain in pole position among the regions at the vanguard of the biotech sector.Pascale Delcomminette (CEO Wallonia Export & Investment Agency)
A unique connected ecosystem
Doing business in Wallonia is a matter of working together. Become part of a tight-knit collaborative ecosystem of clusters, incubators, universities, research centers, hospitals, federal and regional government organizations, and public and private investors.
Did you know?
Wallonia and Belgium as a whole have a long and successful history in biotech discoveries. The Belgian biotech story started in the university laboratories, but since then many successful biotech and biomanufacturing startups and multinationals, like GSK and Kaneka Eurogentec, have found common ground in Wallonia. Some of the main highlights through the years:
UCB was created by Emmanuel Janssen, a company initially focused on industrial chemicals. In the early 1950s, UCB set up a research centre where new medicines were developed. Today UCB is a Belgian multinational biopharmaceutical company that continues to invest in Belgium. It has recently announced 2 big investments in biomanufacturing in Belgium.
RIT – now GSK – produces the world’s first polio vaccine in Belgium. Today, GSK Belgium is the world’s largest producer of vaccines.
Walloon researcher Joseph Martial clones the gene for the human growth hormone.
Walloon researcher Joseph Martial creates Eurogentec, one of the first spin-offs according to the American model. Today Kaneka Eurogentec is a leading international CDMO offering plasmide DNA and mRNA vaccine production.
Walloon professor in Gynaecology, Jean-Michel Foidart, co-founded Mithra as spin-off of the university of Liège. Today Mithra is an international CDMO and pursuing its innovation and development in the field of Women’s Health.
The Brussels South Charleroi BioPark was created through a unique combination of political, scientific and social factors resulting in a supportive ecosystem for drug discovery and development across the spectrum of life sciences companies from innovative start-ups through to global players.
Walloon professor Cédric Blanpain started his laboratory, the Blanpain Lab, laboratory of stem cells and cancer, at the ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles). He was one of the first researchers in the world to use cell lineage tracing in cancer research and he showed for the first time the existence of cancer stem cells in solid tumors in vivo. He is an international recognised professor and has received several prices honouring his stem cell research.
Entrepreneurs Hughes Bultot and José Castillo create Univercells, specialised in cutting-edge bioprocessing technologies. Today Univercells consists of 5 businesses leveraging core strengths in scaling, production and bioprocessing to revolutionize the availability of biologics around the world.
Many Walloon companies play an important role in the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines.
Thanks to their knowledge, their collaboration in open innovation with both academic and private research actors, the strong support of the Walloon Region, and also thanks to a growing ecosystem, Belgian biotech companies now manage to achieve revolutionary developments and results in about twenty years.Frédéric Druck, Secretary General of bio.be/essenscia
End-to-end services for your biotech needs
From R&D to bioproduction and logistics: Wallonia offers access to a range of services and facilities that support your biotech or biomanufacturing ambitions. Here are just some of the potential partners that can help your biotech business boom:
As the health cluster in Wallonia, BioWin brings together all the stakeholders – research centers, multinationals, start-ups, etc. – in the field of health, specifically biopharma and medtech. They offer R&I support, international business development support and financial support for technology platform projects to enhance Wallonia’s economic growth and attractiveness for health investment worldwide.
Brussels South Charleroi Biopark
Originally founded by research university ULB, Wallonia’s Brussels South Charleroi Biopark is a state-of-the-art facility, where scientific, clinical and business experts come together to work on drug research and development. This site have two main goals: expanding the reception infrastructure and training new talent. And for good reason: the region welcomes a new biotech or medtech company every two months.
Legiapark Liège has the ambition to develop a business park dedicated to the field of biotechnologies and the field of life sciences more broadly (medtech, biotech and pharma activities). This economic park will welcome companies on an area of almost 30,000 m².
bio.be/essenscia is the Belgian federation representing companies active in the biotech and life sciences industry. It is the recognised voice of the biotech community and operates under the umbrella of essenscia, the sector federation of the chemical and life sciences industry. Their members become part of an effective advocacy and regulatory voice representing and promoting the collective interests of the Belgian life sciences and biotechnology industry.
Contract (Development) Manufacturing Organizations
The perfect allies of biotech companies in terms of production. They often assist in the development of vaccine production or innovative therapies. CMOs and CDMOs produce high-value raw materials, take charge of the filling or finishing stage, perform quality control or analytical services and more. They can even be used as a fully outsourced production center for companies that want to focus on R&D in-house or need temporary back-up during peaks in activity.