STIS - Scientific and Technical Information Service

Statistics and indicators


Who are we ?

The Federal Science Policy’s scientific and technical information department provides all the information on research statistics in Belgium for:

  • all those interested in research statistics;
  • national organisations (Conseil Central de l’Economie (CCE); the federal, regional and community authorities; etc.);
  • international organisations (the EU's statistics office (EUROSTAT); the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); etc.).

What do STI's statistics represent?

STI is an acronym for 'science, technology and innovation'. This title covers a very wide range of activities. Within this conceptual framework, 'Research and Experimental Development (R&D)', which is present in all economic sectors, is of major importance. But how can we measure it?

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and the Member States, among which Belgium, examined this problem and, in June 1963, the first edition of the 'Frascati Manual'* was published (the 7th edition came out in 2015). This manual is an international reference to measure R&D (both in the financial domain as well as in the domain of personnel efforts). The measurement of R&D results in R&D statistics, which are composed of:

  • ex post facto data based on surveys carried out in research bodies (the following relates to all R&D statistics); ex post facto is a Latin phrase meaning ‘after the fact’, signifying that the data is collected over a past and finished period;
  • ex ante data based on the budgets of the competent authorities, especially the standard aggregate of 'R&D government budget appropriations' (these are statistics on R&D government budget appropriations); ex ante is a Latin phrase meaning ‘before the event’. ‘Ex ante’ considerations therefore take place beforehand, which leads to an extra difficulty, as it requires assessing future circumstances.

Without entering into too much detail, it is useful to provide the definition of R&D given in the Frascati Manual: 'Research and experimental development comprise creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock knowledge to devise new applications.'

In the 1990s, the need was felt to compile other OECD manuals. Hence, the publication of a manual focusing exclusively on the measurement of innovation activities, known as the OSLO Manual (in French or in English).

* As the manual's name indicates, this publication is more technical. For those who are interested, here is the link to the Frascati Manual in French (6th edition of 2002; 7th edition of 2015 not yet available in French) or in English (7th edition of 2015).

How are STI statistics produced in Belgium?

These statistics are produced in cooperation with our regional and community partners. This cooperation is organised formally through a cooperation agreement. The instrument that incarnates this cooperation is the consultative body CFS/STAT.

Essentially, this cooperation means that every authority collects data on the R&D activities of research organisations that fall under its scope.
The Communities are therefore responsible for collecting data from institutions of higher education. The Regions are responsible for collecting data from companies.

For further details regarding Belgian federal cooperation in the area of “Research and Development Work” (R&D), please refer to the PDF document below: