In Belgium, most of the research and innovation competences actually belong to the Regional and Community level:
- Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels Capital Regions have main competences of research, innovation and economic development support (to region based companies, clusters and research institutes).
- The French-, Flemish- and German-speaking communities of Belgium are mainly competent for education and research policy for universities and higher education institutes.
- In Flanders, regional (territory-based) and community (person-related) competences are united in one Flemish government, while they are divided in Wallonia into a Regional government and the French-speaking community government called “Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles”.
- The Federal level remains competent for a restricted number of research programs and international agreements of national interest, e.g. space, polar, defense research.
The Federal Science Policy Office is responsible for the policy coordination with the federated entities, for own research programs and federal scientific institutions, and the Belgian networking with European and international institutions. A key transport Research Programme Belgium are participants in is the AIRBUS European aeronautical development programme .
Within the Flemish government, the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation develops, evaluates and monitors R&I policy. The Science, Technology & Innovation publication describes the broad context and performance of the research and innovation landscape in Flanders. The two implementing agencies responsible for research and innovation funding policies are:
The heart of Flanders R&I policy is the knowledge cooperation between researchers and companies. Flemish government stimulates cooperation through its smart specialisation strategy based upon its four strategic research centres Imec (microelectronics and nanotech), VITO (environment), VIB biotech and Flanders Make (smart manufacturing). Flanders’ cluster policy (six spearhead clusters (chemistry, materials, energy, logistics and blue economy and smaller cluster initiatives) represent the strategic innovation investment priorities of Flanders as a smart region.
In Wallonia, R&I policy is managed by the Administration for research called “SPW-EER” (Service Public de Wallonie – Economie, Emploi & Recherche) under the responsibility of the Minister of Economy. The SPW EER supports, values and evaluates applied research projects of companies, universities, universities and research centers, through direct aids or calls for projects. It disseminates and supports science and technology awareness among youth and the general public.
Since 2006, the Walloon Government has set up a cluster policy with the recognition of six competitive clusters in key sectors for the Walloon Economy (agrofood industry, life-science and pharma, mechanical engineering, space and aeronautics, sustainable building and chemistry and transport, logistics and mobility).
Transport policy is defined by several levels of government.
The transport sector at the federal level is the responsibility of the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport which prepares and implements federal policy on mobility.
The Walloon Government has a public service for Mobility and Infrastructure, responsible for coordinating transport and mobility in the region.
The Flemish Government has a Department of Mobility and Public Works which coordinates mobility and infrastructure policy in the region.
Finally, in the Brussels-Capital region, transport and mobility are regulated by several units of the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital (Bruxelles Mobilité).
In this institutional set-up, transport research is funded through various mechanisms. The Federal Government funds research programmes of national interest, the largest one being space.
In Brussels-Capital Region, INNOVIRIS (Brussels Institute for Research and Innovation) is the public funding agency for scientific research and technological innovation.
Recent programmes and frameworks for funding research on transport related topics include:
- City of Things 2023: Smart Cities and Municipalities (2023) - Gives Flemish cities and municipalities the opportunity to get started with smart city applications.
- Flanders Make competence cluster "Motion Products".
- Mobilidata - Creates innovative traffic solutions to make traffic safer, more efficient and sustainable for all road users.
- Intelligent Transport Systems - The Federal ITS Plan aims to provide innovative services that enable sustainable mobility by integrating information and communications technology in road transport and its interfaces with other modes of transport.
- National Recovery Plan - Additional rail investments as part of the National Recovery Plan to strengthen the reliability and safety of the rail system; increase the accessibility of the rail system; and improve the punctuality of rail services.
- Vision Rail 2040 - Project which will create conditions for a modal shift to allow rail to act as the backbone of a more sustainable mobility system whilst reducing CO2 emissions, improving mobility, reducing traffic congestion and road accidents, and supporting the economy.