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Today, Friday 8 December, the Foreign Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is organising the event "Belgium's Biopharmaceutical Excellence: Navigating the path forward" at the Egmont Palace in Brussels. Through this conference, which is part of the Belgian government's initiative “Belgium. The Health & Biotech Valley”, we aim to stimulate discussions and cooperation within the Belgian biopharma sector, promote strategic partnerships and increase the international share of biopharmaceutical activities in Belgium. More than 200 participants from both the private and public sectors, including representatives from foreign diplomatic missions in Brussels, will attend.
The opening ceremony will be hosted by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs Hadja Lahbib in a video message, Ambassador Jeroen Cooreman, Director General Bilateral Affairs, and Prof Pierre Van Damme, leading Belgian epidemiologist. They will briefly outline the main current issues and challenges faced by the sector, to start the discussion.
The conference will include two panel discussions with prominent players within the sector, covering topics such as attracting international talent, innovation and digitalisation. The closing session of the conference will be dedicated to the priorities of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the field of health and key challenges facing the biopharmaceutical sector in the coming years. Belgian companies will have the opportunity to present their innovations during a networking session at the end of the conference.
With years of investment in research and development, combined with an integrated ecosystem linking industry, academia and government, and the recent creation of major initiatives such as the EU Biotech Campus, the VirusBank Platform and Vaccinopolis, Belgium is more than ever at the forefront of biopharma. This importance is underlined by the following impressive figures that our country can present: a total of 43,000 direct employees in the sector, 100 billion EUR of pharmaceutical exports and 5.7 billion EUR of research and development investments in biopharma by 2022, representing 30% of total Belgian R&D spending.
Belgium, as a leader in health and biotech, continues to strive for progress. Biopharma is therefore a key sector in the government's Belgian Relaunch Plan. The organisation of this conference by FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation highlights the importance of the biopharma sector as part of our economic diplomacy. Here, our network of diplomatic missions abroad, in cooperation with the three regional export and investment agencies (FIT, Awex and hub.brussels), also plays a crucial role in facilitating international opportunities for Belgian pharmaceutical companies. This was illustrated during recent state visits (South Africa and Germany) and princely economic missions (USA, Japan, Senegal and Australia) , during which there always was a special focus on the biopharmaceutical sector.
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