Information And Communication Technology (ICT) In Brussels
In today’s cutting-edge business landscape, ICT plays a crucial role in the growth and future development of almost any sector, apart from improving the economy as a whole. In both the public and private sectors, it acts as a source of innovation and efficiency. In Brussels, the ICT sector is one of the most dynamic sectors and accounts for around one-third of the country’s global ICT activities. In 2018, Belgium ranked 8th overall among 28 countries in terms of digital economy development, according to DESI (Digital Economy & Society Index).
The ICT sector in Brussels not only boasts of big names like Microsoft, Nokia, IBM, Getronics, Econocom, Unisys etc but also houses a significant number of small high-tech organizations.
Brussels’ ICT sector is bolstered by a number of advantageous factors. These mainly include the scope of research and development, and support from the regional government. Here’s how the capital city of Belgium handles these very efficiently.
Research & Development
For ICT company to flourish, research & development is imperative to grow and innovate. Brussels’ ICT sector rests on fine synergies and collaborations between research & development organizations, academia, and businesses. Here, a significant number of ICT reference centers contribute to the collaboration by developing human capital. For example, Indutec develops technical activities in ICT, ICT professionals can get trained at Evoliris, just to name a few. The city boasts of 3 main universities namely UCL, VUB and ULB, and 4 institutes that offer higher education in engineering. These educational institutions not only let the aspirants gain high-quality, relevant education but they actively collaborate with various ICT businesses on a diverse range of R&D projects as well. There’re some dedicated to ICT technology incubators in the city. These include ICAB (Arsenal Incubation Centre in Brussels) run by the VUB, EEBIC (Erasmus European Business and Innovation Centre) associated with the ULB, apart from the BRDA (Brussels Regional Development Agency) managing the “Brussels Business Case” – an interuniversity incubator.
Government support for the ICT sector
The regional government of Brussels is strongly dedicated to the development of ICT and the overall prosperity of the Brussels-Capital Region. With the help of a global ICT policy, it has designed 3 major support systems for companies looking to operate in Brussels. These include,
- Interest-free loans and subsidies: The ISRIB provides companies with support in performing scientific research and technological development efforts in terms of offering interest-free loans and subsidies.
- Diverse financing options: There’re lots financial institutions like the BRIC (Brussels Regional Investment Company), BeAngels (Business Angels network), the Warranty Fund, the Participation Fund etc together with a range of venture capital funding options are available to promote the early stage of businesses.
- Support for exporting: Brussels Export offers promotional and financial support for exporting.
Key opportunities for businesses
Though the ICT sector in Brussels is highly competitive, it always remains open and innovative. Here’re some key fields that can be considered by companies looking to operate in the Brussels-Capital Region.
Unquestionably, big data has transformed the way we do business. Big data with business analytics have the ability to take a business to the next level. Though many of the businesses in Brussels are in the nascent stages of adopting the technology, it’s set to become a priority for the future ahead as the volume of data increases steadily and the operational costs are likely to decrease.
Digital and social media marketing
With the emergence of big data, both social media and digital marketing have become important than ever for every business, regardless of its field of operation. Therefore, companies that are active in these fields can experience a huge growth opportunity.
IT solutions for the finance sector
In Brussels, the finance and banking sector has flourished exponentially and thus there’s a huge opportunity for companies that operate in the development and integration of various software packages. Organizations that offer experts having a robust functional knowledge of the finance sector, excellent knowledge of core banking systems and strong expertise in different advanced computer technologies should consider stepping into Brussels’ ICT sector.
With technological advancements and modern-day innovations, the transition to e-health systems in the healthcare landscape is experiencing steady growth, throughout the country. Secure electronic exchange of services and information has become important than ever due to the sheer importance of privacy protection. Hence, companies having expertise in these fields can surely consider this capital city for their point of operation.
Apart from the above market segments, the Brussels-Capital Region presents significant opportunities in other fields as well. For example, the e-commerce segment that already boasts of big names like Amazon, Office.com etc, can prove to be an excellent opportunity for both startups and established brands. Internet security is another segment that offers a huge scope for businesses because of the increasing awareness about cyber attacks.
It can be concluded that Brussels has already positioned itself at a central point in the European ICT sector and we can only expect to see it’s roles and contributions growing bigger.