Choosing the Brussels region as the place to launch your startup has its pro’s and con’s, but pro’s definitely beat con’s. A new study conducted by and the Brussels region reveals that the 75% of the local founders would recommend their friends to create their startup in Brussels.

Brussels is the Belgian region with the highest density of startups

With 400 startups and over 1.150.000 inhabitants, the region of Brussels has the highest tech startup density per inhabitant. An interesting comparison with Lisbon: while the Portuguese capital counts for 2,2 startups per 10.000 inhabitants, Brussels scores 3,4 startups per 10.000 inhabitants respectively. 

There is also a strong correlation between the startup density and the new jobs in the region. According to our study, Brussels-based startups employ over 3.000 people. Furthermore, 100% of the interviewed startups plan on hiring more people in the next year

The government contributes to new hires

62% of the startups allocate a portion of their government grants to employment. While almost 25% of startups even allocate more than half of their grants to hiring employees. 

Finding the right candidates and investing in talent, especially when startups don’t generate a high revenue, are some of the main challenges startups face.

“It isn’t easy to recruit a commercial profile. It starts with being aware of what you really need. Entrepreneurs tend to look for “too high level” profiles for the task. They get bored quickly in the job and leave the company.” Vincent, CEO at M-Village.

Entrepreneurs from all over the world choose Brussels

Our study reveals that 19% of Brussels startup founders were raised in a foreign country. The majority (51%) was raised in Brussels, 30% was raised in Flanders or Wallonia. The profiles of the entrepreneurs behind the Brussels tech startups are very diverse, with respectively 12.5% and 19% of the Brussels tech startups lead by woman and foreigners. 

“Although Woman in Tech hold conferences about successful woman, I think that it misses inspiring woman in typical man sectors. Most woman that I met in those conferences were active in sectors such as clothes, make-up or food.” Aurélie Mercks, CTO at ITeahcYou.

Last but not least, 82 entrepreneurs enjoyed the experience so much that they created multiple enterprises!

Top 5 sectors in which entrepreneurs build their startups

Media & Entertainment, Healthcare, Marketing and Sales, Finance and Creative Industries, are the top 5 sectors in which entrepreneurs build their startups, although some less “crowded” sectors are better at raising funds. All together they represent +45% of all the Brussels tech startups. Brussel’s share of B2B startups is higher than the national average (41% vs. 33%), but B2B startups remain predominant. 

The Brussels entrepreneurial mindset is booming

With 60% of the startups created after 2011 and 72% that has internationalized, the Brussels entrepreneurial mindset is booming! Europe remains a preferred choice for expansion. The obtained data reveals that 39% of the Brussels tech startups are already active in some EU countries, 89% would like to expand there. Half of the Brussels tech startups have chosen to expand their business in France. The Netherlands comes second with 25%. After the EU countries, the second most desired expansion destination is North America with 31%, followed by Asia 17%.

“Competition is tougher in the UK or France for example. To stimulate the Belgian startups growth abroad, we have to cultivate the revenue culture to make them fight harder against foreign competition.” Olivier Belenger, CEO at Seeder Fund.

“To grow international, you need to have commercial representatives in many countries which comes with management and communication challenges such as “time difference”, multi-languages, no face to face meeting, legal complications, etc.” Maxime Champoux, Head of Product at IbanFrist.

Are you looking for a better understanding of the startup DNA in your region? Contact us