Over 300 businesses active in the Flemish biotech or life sciences cluster possess 500 open vacancies, in particular for job profiles in production, e.g. (bio)engineers, industrial chemists or ICT experts. In addition, the sector is looking for new staff for research and development. Flanders is among the five most important life sciences clusters in Europe. Here, the cluster provides direct employment to over 20,000 people and indirectly to a further 80,000. That's according to research by flanders.bio and KBC Securities. The figures were made public within the framework of 'knowledge for growth', the annual congress of the biotech and life sciences cluster in Flanders.
For most of the open vacancies specific competences that people who are newly graduated do not possess are needed. These are the so-called 'bottleneck' professions for which flanders.bio, together with several partners, will organise targeted training courses on the various steps within the production and research process.
This is why flanders.bio is a supporter of the STEM initiative in secondary education. It has the aim of encouraging youngsters to choose scientific and technological courses. In addition, flanders.bio established the OPINNO platform for life sciences MA students. "In this way, we reach some 600 students annually" says Henk Joos, Managing Director of flanders.bio. "In addition, we still need more researchers who are also able use nano-electronics and ICT, e.g. in order to develop health solutions".
The growing number of open vacancies in the biotech sector points to the maturity of the businesses in the cluster. In 2013, 97 products were in the pipeline including innovative medicines against cancer or infectious diseases. In 2017, barely 4 years later, the sector is already developing 151 products. A growing number are nearly ready to be marketed.
Belgian businesses represent 18% of the stock value of all European biotech companies (122 billion euros). "Nearly half the capital in our companies comes from the United States. Meanwhile, three Belgian biotech companies are listed on the Nasdaq and argenx is preparing a Nasdaq listing" says Nathalie Van Den Haute, Director Corporate Finance at KBC Securities.
flanders.bio calls for intense cooperation between the authorities, businesses, the education sector and research bodies. "In this way we are able to combine our knowledge more effectively" says Henk Joos. "Thanks to close cooperation we can continue to differentiate ourselves from the other clusters in Europe and around the world. We are currently already among the Top 5 in Europe, but we have the ambition to become the number one in combining fields of knowledge."
flanders.bio is a dynamic, member driven organisation with currently more than 350 members from Belgium and abroad. We help our members to create value by organising Networking and Training Activities, supporting Internationalisation, providing Services and building Expertise.
flanders.bio and its members want to be the proud advocates of a reputable global-impact ecosystem in life sciences.
flanders.bio is supported by a number of strategic partners: VIB, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Roche Diagnostics, KBC Securities, Deloitte, CMAST, Flanders Investment & Trade, Agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen and Gimv.