Dear Reader,

As the Flemish Minister for Economy, Innovation and Work, I am delighted to present the annual report of Cleantech Flanders 2022. After all, the transition towards sustainability is taking place in every sector and concerns every citizen. Technology in general and clean, ‘green’ technology or cleantech in particular are both invaluable on the journey towards a sustainable economy and prosperous society.

The major impact of the coronavirus crisis on the global economy is clear to us all. The 5.7% drop in the Belgian GDP in 2020 compared to the previous year can also clearly be felt in our Flemish economy. Fortunately, a combination of support measures by the Flemish, Belgian and European governments and the economic resilience of our businesses contributed to a strong recovery in 2021.

I am also delighted to see that not only a growing number of companies were registered in the cleantech sector, but also that, in comparison with the previous year, there was significant growth in the total gross profit in the sector (EBITDA +26.61%) and the average EBITDA per cleantech stakeholder (+21.87%). This is in clear contrast with the downward trend compared to 2019. This supports the thesis that companies that focus on sustainability are better positioned to deal with a crisis and to ensure more consistent and therefore more sustainable growth.

Total employment keeps growing in the cleantech sector too. This ongoing trend during a global health crisis only highlights the strength and resilience of the innovative cleantech sector as an enterprising ecosystem. The bulk of investments is focused on renewable energy. Fields such as energy efficiency, sustainable mobility and sustainable buildings also offer a favourable business climate for startups.

Flanders is leading the way in the field of offshore wind energy: Flemish companies have considerable expertise to offer in the value chain when developing offshore wind farms and are preparing to team up with Cleantech Flanders and the Blue cluster to respond to today’s opportunities in the field of offshore wind, not only in our coastal regions but also internationally.

Therefore, it is quite logical that Flemish companies are launching more patents in the field of renewable energy. Other fields with a high level of innovation are directly related to reducing greenhouse gases by optimising the use of energy (energy efficiency and green buildings) or through electrification (batteries and sustainable mobility). So as you can see, a positive wind is blowing through cleantech! I therefore also believe that companies in every sector can benefit from the further integration of cleantech in their business operations. As such, they help to reduce their own ecological footprint and contribute to a green and prosperous future for Flanders.