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Belgian pharmaceutical companies stay on top

According to data from, the umbrella company of 125 pharmaceutical companies that operate in Belgium, Belgian pharmaceutical companies have had a good year in 2020, driven by the pandemic. Numbers are on the rise across the board, in terms of employment, research and development and exports.

In terms of employment, for example, we note an increase of 13.6% between 2016 and 2020, with 40,464 people employed by Belgian bio-pharmaceutical companies last year. If we add indirect and tangential jobs generated by the sector, this figure increases to nearly 130,000 employees in Belgium.

Companies have invested €13 million daily in R&D for new drugs and vaccines, which represents an increase 29% in one year. In total, €4.96 billion was invested in 2020. The number of researchers in this sector has increased by nearly 40% in four years.

Exports increased by 13% in 2020. Each day, the equivalent of €150 million worth of bio-pharmaceutical products are exported from Belgium. This confirms its position as a key crossroads. More than half of the products were exported outside of Europe, with the United States as the destination for a quarter of these exports.

The sector is one of the most dynamic in the Belgian economy, but the Belgian ‘pharma valley’ will have to consider increased competition from Europe.

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