The Brussels government has chosen Gare de l’Ouest in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean municipality as the site for the City of Science and Innovation of the Brussels-Capital Region, the Brussels Secretary of State for Scientific Research, Barbara Trachte announced on Monday.
The goal of the innovation centre is to make science and technology education more accessible to Brussels residents. Having such an establishment will allow individuals to better understand issues impacting their region like climate change, epidemiology and social inequalities through science, Trachte announced in a press release.
While aimed in general at the younger residents, the centre hopes to especially engage young women and girls, who are still under-represented in the field of science and technology.
The new centre will be opened on the Molenwest square area behind the metro station, where also a local NGO also called Molenwest has its residence. The spaces have been made available in the past to partner associations, who offer varied activities for young and old from the neighbourhood.
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With this background, the Gare du l’Ouest site was selected to be the most fitting for the new project as it is accessible by public transportation, nearby schools and in need of more development, as established by a feasibility study by Explore consortium in 2018, and an updated analysis carried out by citydev.brussels. It is also aligns with the objectives defined for the Gare de l’Ouest Master Development Plan (PAD).
"The promotion of science, and particularly among audiences who are remote from it, is essential in order to arouse new vocations among young people and particularly among young girls," Trachte said in the press release.
Innoviris, the Brussels Institute for Research and Innovation, will be the contracting authority for the project, while citydev.brussels will be the prime contractor, the press release noted. Construction covering 5,000m2 is projected to start in 2026, with an end scheduled for 2029. The construction of the building has been valued at €25 million and will be the subject of a request for co-FEDER financing.
Another project in the works
Before the opening of the innovation centre, Innoviris is launching another project — the Science Roadshow, an initiative to put on free travelling science and technology events to bring awareness of STEM closer to the Brussels public.
Science Roadshow will bring outreach activities to at least five Brussels neighbourhoods to excite locals about science and innovation, especially those in underrepresented groups.
The travelling project is set to start in March 2023 and go until October 2024, lasting 20 months with a budget of €800,000.