The Flemish government yesterday agreed an investment package worth €120 million for research infrastructure – laboratories, testing facilities, research centres and more.
The announcement came just as it was announced that Belgian-led research start-up K5, looking into Alzheimer’s Disease, had succeeded is raising €60 million in capital.
Last month the Flemish government announced it had finally achieved its goal of seeing 3% of GDP being dedicated to research and innovation. One of the major hubs is around the university of Leuven, where the research of the K5 start-up will also be based.
Leuven is also the base of VITO (technology), VIB (biotechnology), imec (digital) and of course the university and university hospital, including the Riga Institute (medical research).
According to Hilde Crevits (CD&V), minister for innovation and economy, the investment is required for Flanders to maintain its position in the top five innovative regions in Europe.
“We don’t realize how many groundbreaking innovations or researches are taking place right under our noses,” she said. “Leading companies such as Johnson & Johnson, CNH Industrial and Nokia do not just settle here for no reason.”
The money is earmarked for 24 projects, spread across sectors as across the region. They range from construction to agriculture, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and health. One thread links them all: sustainability, health and digitalisation.
In Antwerp, €4 million from Flanders on top of federal aid for Vaccinopolis, where vaccines will be tested.
In Lovenjoel near Leuven, the experimental Transfarm, carrying out research into the circular bio-economy and how it can be made profitable for Flemish farmers. In Leuven itself, the university will receive funding for mapping every cell within a cancer tumour.
In Limburg, the university of Hasselt and EnergyVille will work together on investigating the possibilities of hydrogen technology, with a view to bringing down the cost to users. UHasselt will also receive funds for helping in the digitalisation of Flemish industry.
In Ghent, a new test facility for pharmaceutical use, including 3,300 square metres of clean rooms, the equivalent of about 6.5 basketball courts.