7.3.6RECOMMENDATION 6: STRENGTHENING HIGH-TECH EXPORT

The importance of high-tech products and the related knowledge-intensive services for international business is high. If we want to further develop the knowledge economy in Flanders, we need to focus more on economic impact: more (export of) high-tech products and the related knowledge-intensive services.

VARIO proposes a three-track policy to strengthen high-tech export, in which our knowledge institutions together with the government, VLAIO and FIT etc. have an important role to play:

1. Cherishing larger R&D companies in Flanders: we need a more proactive government that, together with the larger R&D companies and knowledge partners (in Triple-helix), tackles bottlenecks and develops roadmaps to strengthen competitiveness, to reduce costs, to make R&D&I, production and distribution, infrastructure etc. futureproof;

2. Sustained focus on the growth of tech startups and scale-ups: for the purely tech startups we need a better balance between too early exits (through foreign takeovers) on the one hand and the growth and anchoring of these firms in Flanders on the other hand. Although we also observe success stories from foreign acquisitions that provide extra recruitment and extra production capacity (internally and from suppliers), we only have very few successes from our own growth companies. However, they are desperately needed. A sufficient number of head offices (as strategic decision-making centers) remaining in Flanders increase the chance of anchoring R&D&I, production and distribution. This theme will also gain importance internationally;

3. Attracting R&D centers and high-tech production facilities: we should not only focus on attracting foreign R&D centers from large multinationals, but also foreign multinationals that are developing new state-of-the-art high-tech production facilities in Flanders, new distribution hubs and offices.