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Factsheet for measure BE-2011-1/2527 – measures in Belgium

Collective Research Centres - patents unit

Collectieve Onderzoekscentra - promotie octrooicel/Centres de Recherche Collective - promotion cellule brevets

Country Belgium , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 January 2011
Context Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Reorientation of business activities
– Change of production/Innovation
Author Dries Van Herreweghe (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 02 November 2022)

Background information

The stimulation of innovation and creativity is crucial to compete in the knowledge economy. Intellectual property rights such as patents play an important role in stimulating innovation as they protect the value of inventions and the resulting investments. Inventions also give rise to new research and development work, thanks to the publication of patent information.

Especially among SMEs, there is still a lack of the appropriate basic knowledge and strategy regarding the protection and valorisation of their innovations. Moreover, they often do not yet use the free patent databases, an important source of technical information.

In response to these needs, the FPS Economy set up the Patent Cells, which sensitise companies in their sector about intellectual property rights and answer their questions. Since 2004, the FPS Economy has provided financial support to the Patentelles at three Collective Research Centres. Since 2011, a fourth Patent Cell at a sector federation has been launched.

Content of measure

The collective research centres are organised at the sectoral level, to promote and coordinate technical improvement. They enable research and development for the benefit of companies in a specific sector through mutual collaboration. This type of collaboration is particularly called upon by SMEs that do not dispose of the necessary resources to pursue their research activities. The centres are an instrument of the federal public service of the economy to support and to inform enterprises, especially SMEs, on standardisation and intellectual property rights.

The focus of these centres is to support companies to maximise their potential of intellectual property rights during the development and launch of products, services and processes.

Currently, there are centres in 4 sectors:

  • Textile industry (Centexbel)
  • Construction (WTCB)
  • Technological industry (Sirris)
  • Chemical industry and Life Sciences (Essenscia)

Funding is provided by the federal public service of economy is represented in the management council of the sectoral centres. The relevant regional authorities are represented in the management council of the sectoral centres.

Use of measure

In 2013, Belgium submitted 181 patent filings per million inhabitants. That is higher than the European average of 129 (Source: European Patent Office ).

In 2015, Belgium submitted a total of 2,041 patents, which was an increase of 5.9% compared to 2014 (1,927 patents). The increase was larger than the European average increased in that year, which was 0.7%. This placed Belgium on the 12th position within all of the 50 EPO member states.

In their 2016 annual report, the European Patent Office noted 2,184 patent applications were filed in Belgium, 64% (1,397) of those were submitted by Flanders-based companies.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Trade unions
Local / regional government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative Unknown
Form Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


The trade unions are represented in the management council of the sectoral centres.

Views and reactions




Eurofound (2022), Collective Research Centres - patents unit, measure BE-2011-1/2527 (measures in Belgium), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.