Foreign minister highlights Belgian biopharma during US visit
During a visit to Boston on Thursday, Belgian Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib highlighted Belgian strengths in the pharma and healthcare industry. Several Belgian companies were present in the Massachusetts capital. Lahbib visited the city's Mass Life Sciences Center, the incubator Labcentral 238 and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The Belgian minister had already highlighted transatlantic cooperation in developing vaccines against COVID-19 in Washington on Wednesday. "Without BioNTech in Germany, Pfizer in the United States and production and distribution from Belgium, nothing would have happened," the minister underlined during a conference at the Brookings Institute.
Lahbib also pointed to the presence of pharmaceutical multinationals Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca in Belgium. "This is not a matter of luck, but of developing an ecosystem that brings together academics, researchers, incubators and industry leaders," she underlined.
"In the US market, we need to be offensive. We have qualified personnel and skills, an incredible education system and reliable people at reasonable prices"
In Boston, Lahbib stressed that Belgium invests the most in R&D per capita in this field - 70 per cent more than Denmark, second in the ranking. Belgium is also the second most important country for clinical research. In 2021, 42,062 people were employed in this sector in Belgium. Between 2016 and 2020, the number of researchers in biopharma increased by 36.8 per cent, while the European average was 3.9 per cent.
In Massachusetts, 106,679 people worked in the sector in 2021. The US state accounts for 9 per cent of investments in the US pharma sector. Several Belgian companies are active there, including Gosselies-based iTeos.
The meeting between Lahbib and the Massachusetts biopharma sector took place ahead of a conference in Boston from 5 to 8 June. There, the Belgian consul general and representatives of the regional trade agencies Awex and FIT will also be present.
Charles Brouwers, president of the Belgo-American Chamber of Commerce Belcham, supports these initiatives. "Modesty kills us. In the US market, we need to be offensive. We have qualified personnel and skills, an incredible education system and reliable people at reasonable prices," he argued.
Belgian Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib © BELGA PHOTO SAMUEL CORUM