Clean technology worth €4 billion in Flanders


Sector covers more than 1,000 companies employing 25,000 people, according to Cleantech Report 2020

Cleaning up

Clean technology is making nearly €4 billion gross profit in Flanders each year, according to a report that considers environment-focused business in the region as a single sector. This makes it one of the most promising areas of the local economy.

Cleantech brings together a broad range of technologies that contribute to a cleaner environment. This crosses traditional industrial domains, from energy production and transport to manufacturing and services, but only includes companies considered to actually decrease society’s impact on the environment and make sustainable living more practical.

According to independent research organisation Vito, which runs the Cleantech Flanders business platform, there are now more than 1,000 cleantech companies in the region. They employ 25,000 people full time, and make a gross profit of almost €4 billion.

Vito’s Cleantech Report 2020 classifies around one-quarter of these companies as technology providers that manufacture and sell cleantech, while more than a half are “implementers”, helping other companies to adopt cleantech.

The remainder are “enablers”, who help stimulate the cleantech ecosystem more generally, along with a very small percentage of “pioneers”, who are applying cleantech within their production process.

18 companies a year

Companies that focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency remain strong players, the report says, but there is also growth in waste management and recycling, now rebranded as the circular economy.

The whole cleantech sector grows on average by 18 companies a year with a strong focus on the university towns of Ghent, Leuven and Antwerp. However, the majority of cleantech companies are small or medium-sized, with fewer than 10 full-time employees.

The report concludes that continuous innovation and the application of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, sensors and lightweight materials, will give the traditional cleantech domains an extra boost in the coming years.

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