A long and proud

As a home to great scientists, innovative entrepreneurs, and many of the world’s biopharma and biotech leaders, Belgium has been one step ahead in healthcare for over a century.

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Photograph of the first Solvay Conference in 1911 in Brussels

The journey to leadership

Belgium has played a leading role in world science since 1911 and the launch of the legendary Solvay conferences on physics and chemistry.

In the 1920s, Corneel Heymans and Jules Bordet both received Nobel Prizes for Physiology and Medicine.

R&D activities accelerated in the 1950s, resulting in GSK producing the world’s first polio vaccine and the creation of Janssen Pharmaceutica. Today, the world’s ten largest biopharmaceutical companies all have sites here.

During the pandemic, the country manufactured one billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA covid vaccines, while UCB announced an invest in a bioproduction plant in Belgium.

A strong R&D base, the expansion of biomanufacturing activities, a growing community of ambitious entrepreneurs and investors, and supportive governments all work together to ensure the Belgian biotech sector continues to shape tomorrow.

Meet the scientists and leaders who made history

Ernest Solvay

Launched his global chemical empire in 1863. Organised the first Solvay Conference in 1911, which perpetuates his lifelong passion for scientific research.

Dr. Paul Janssen

Founder of Janssen Pharmaceutica in 1953, a world-leading pharmaceutical company now a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Invented numerous new molecules that are still available today.

Christian de Duve

Received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974. Founded the International Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology (ICP), later renamed the de Duve Institute in the same year.

Lise Thiry

One of just three female students who studied medicine at the University of Liège in 1940. Went on to research at the Pasteur Institute in Brussels. Created a virology department and later developed a method of screening the AIDS virus.

Jean Stephenne

Joined the Biological Division of GSK in 1974, becoming CEO and then Chairman of GSK Vaccines in 2012. Appointed a Baron by King Albert II of Belgium and received a Knighthood of the British Empire in recognition of his contribution to R&D and Industry.

Dr. Marianne De Backer

Strategic advisor, scientist, business leader, deal maker, and corporate investor in the healthcare industry for over two decades. Responsible for more than 200 strategic alliances in healthcare.