Digital Belgium: a startup within the government

This year’s SAS Forum was kicked off by Alexander De Croo, Minister of (a.o.) Digital Agenda, and his advisor Laurent Hublet. The digitalization is not only apparent in the business world: governments try to adapt to and benefit from the digital revolution as well.

In Belgium these efforts are translated into a program called Digital Belgium that will prepare our country for the future, which is taking shape this very moment. Jo Coutuer, host of the ‘digital society’ track at the SAS Forum and Partner at Deloitte, described this evolution very aptly: “In our economy, emails are the primary means of conversation. My 14- and 16-year old kids no longer email, they think it’s old-fashioned.” These teenagers are the future, and they are urging us to adapt fast!

The main problem with governments is that they are slow and typically running a little behind on trends and (r)evolutions. That is why Digital Belgium is a startup within the government, enabling it to move agile and fast. And Minister Alexander De Croo is aware of the true meaning of this: act now and adapt later if needed.

Digital Belgium is a program with five priorities, all focused on getting Belgium in the digital top three of the European Digital Economy and Society Index, stimulating the launch of 1,000 new startups and delivering 50,000 new jobs in a variety of sectors. And all of this by 2020.

  1. Digital economy
    1. Focus on start-ups, a.o. with a tax shelter for start-ups (a personal tax reduction for people who invest in start-ups) inspired by the tax shelter for movie funding
    2. Digital-friendly legislation
    3. E-commerce platform
    4. E-invoicing
    5. E-signature & e-archiving
    6. Digital health valley 

  2. Digital infrastructure

    Updating old infrastructure and investing in high-speed internet.
  3. Digital skills & jobs

    By 2020 90% of jobs will require digital skills while today only 60% of workers possess these skills. Investments in free mobile internet and education with Digital Champions.
  4. Digital confidence & digital security 

    Launching the Centre for Cybersecurity (CCB) to coordinate digital confidence and security.
  5. Digital government 

    Making open data default. Today Belgium is number 21 in the EU when it comes to open data, so there’s room for improvement.

 Let’s get Belgium ready for the future!