Public innovation funding is predominantly going to big players

Almost 60 % of the innovation funding in 2011 in Belgium went to no more than 10 companies. The ten biggest players received a total of € 63,4 million. Janssen Pharmaceutica, with € 15,2 million, was the biggest recipient of innovation funding doled out by the Flemish Instituut voor Aanmoediging van Innovatie door Wetenschap en Technologie (IWT).

Other names on the list were Alcatel-Lucent, Philips, Umicore, Bekaert, ON Semiconductors and Agfa.

The IWT has a budget of € 316,6 million to spur innovation in Flanders. Almost half of that (€ 142,2 million) goes to direct subsidies for companies. Apart from the obvious concentration of subsidies among a small number of companies, Belgian daily De Standaard notes that in the last 9 years, no less than 6 600 jobs were lost.

While I’m certain that these big players did in fact use this money for innovative projects, it should be noted that according to Hermann Simon, “small” (smaller, at least) innovative firms can get a much higher return on R&D budgets.


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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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