7.7.3Flanders’ position at the intersection between green and digital technologies

The EIB Investment Report (EIB, 2021, p. 292-293) reveals that Europe is currently a leading world region in developing patents that reside in both the digital and the green domains. In 2017, it had 76% more patents in the combined digital-green domain than the United States and over four times more than China. Only Japan outpaced Europe until 2016, before experiencing a steep decline. As such, Europe may not be a global leader when it comes to digitalisation, but it is at the forefront of green technologies and at the intersection between digital and green innovations.

In Figures 3a and 3b we show that Flanders and Belgium are no major contributors at this intersection of the twin transition. Compared to Europe, the volumes and shares of patents at the green-digital intersections are low. Specifically for Flanders, the share of combined patents is lower than the overall Belgian share. At the same time, the average annual growth over the considered time period is higher for Belgium (14% growth in the share) and especially for Flanders (40% growth in the shares), compared to Europe (4% growth in the shares)1.

Figure 3a. Number of digital-green patents (EPO)

BelgiumEuropeFlanders051015202530354045010203040506070809101112131415161718020040060080010001200010203040506070809101112131415161718 BelgiumEuropeFlanders010203040010203040506070809101112131415161718020040060080010001200010203040506070809101112131415161718 BelgiumEuropeFlanders01020304001020304050607080910111213141516171805001000010203040506070809101112131415161718

Source: PATSTAT (Autumn 2020 edition)

Figure 3b. Share of digital-green patents within the total patent portfolio (EPO)

BelgiumEuropeFlanders0,000,200,400,600,801,001,201,401,601,802,002,200102030405060708091011121314151617180,000,200,400,600,801,001,201,401,601,802,002,20010203040506070809101112131415161718 BelgiumEuropeFlanders0,000,501,001,502,000102030405060708091011121314151617180,000,501,001,502,00010203040506070809101112131415161718 BelgiumEuropeFlanders0,000,501,001,502,000102030405060708091011121314151617180,000,501,001,502,00010203040506070809101112131415161718

Source: PATSTAT (Autumn 2020 edition)

These figures suggest that the promising Flemish contribution in digital technologies (cf. Figure 2b) has yet to be translated into an enabling role for green technologies, hence paving the way for a twin transition in Flanders.


1 Note however that growth indicators, especially for Belgium and Flanders, need to be interpreted with caution due to the low underlying volumes.