VARIO-memorandum 2019-2024, Forging ahead. Aim: Top 5 knowledge regions

02 April 2019


In the run-up to the Flemish elections of 26 May, VARIO, The Flemish Advisory Council for Innovation and Enterprise, has prepared a Memorandum for the Flemish policy makers under the title ‘Forging ahead. Aim: Top 5 knowledge regions’.

The Memorandum indicates where the priorities for the coming years should lie if Flanders wants to climb from the current 46th place to the top 5 of European knowledge regions. VARIO sees innovation as the key to sustainable growth, prosperity and well-being in a world of social, economic and ecological challenges. Grouped into 5 building blocks – Governance, Talent, Foundations, Innovation Ecosystem and Environmental Framework – 25 core messages are formulated that should make Flanders one of the best European knowledge regions.

  • Develop an efficient governance framework. Innovation is not only a policy domain in itself but must also be embedded in every other policy domain. The partitions must be removed. In doing so, we need to think even more in the long term. Now that the 1% objective for publicly funded R&D intensity is within reach thanks to the considerable efforts of the outgoing legislature, we must not slow down. A similar effort of an additional 500 million euro is needed in the coming legislature.
  • Develop and stimulate our most important ’resource’: talent. Recalibrate and innovate education, let talent excel and keep it up-to-date by also giving priority to lifelong learning.
  • Strengthen the foundations. Build strong universities and university colleges and support the growth and transformation of our companies so that they are on the international map.
  • Make the innovation ecosystem a fertile soil for value creation through collaboration, interdisciplinarity and internationalization. Give trust and tolerate more risk.
  • Create a favourable environmental framework for innovation by increasing legal certainty, reducing administrative burdens and maintaining tax incentives. As government, take on a more active role yourself.

Lieven Danneels, chairman of VARIO: ‘Innovation and research play a crucial role in our economic and social evolution. Their importance cannot be underestimated. Innovation should be in the DNA of the entire Flemish Government; innovation is a matter of everyone. The translation of our recommendations into policy will lead Flanders to the top of the European knowledge regions. That is our ambition’.

More information is available on the website of VARIO.

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