Unique region guarantees your entrepreneurial dreams
Belgium was the second country after Britain to enter into the Industrial Revolution. As one of the Belgian areas with abundant natural heritage, coal mining used to be the pillar industry in Limburg from the 18th to the 19th century.
Although traces of coal mining still can be seen in Limburg, the heart of Europe has been establishing four new pillar industries: science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship for promoting the industry 4.0 .
“Industry 4.0 is referred to as the digital revolution, which will change the way we think and manufacturing,” Frank Zwerts, Director of Locate In Limburg (LIL) said. “It also can boost the development of personalized products through the customization process.”
On the former site of Philips (Dutch enterprise), Limburg built a 60,000-square-meter science park named Corda Campus which houses various resources and infrastructure to boost entrepreneurship and innovation.
Corda Campus, one of the innovative infrastructures in Limburg. (Photo provided by Limburg Government)
Currently, about 2,300 people are working in more than 80 companies at Corda Campus. According to tech.eu, Corda INCubator, an institution which offers office space, coaching, assistance and network expansion, has already housed 56 technology startups in their first nine months when they moved in the campus.
iMinds, another outstanding institution in the campus, is now the leader of Nanotechnology and Information Communications Technology worldwide.
“A great number of people from around the world visit iMinds every year in order to acquire the most advanced knowledge about software and hardware.” Aleksandr Natanelov, Business Development Manager of LIL said.
In an attempt to encourage the progress of the four pillar industries, Limburg not only launched a set of tax incentives, but also invested in incubators which cover the creative industry, bicycle industry, high-tech industry, and so on.
As one of the incubators launched by Limburg government, Bike Valley was the secret weapon behind Belgium's cycling team winning a gold medal during the Rio Olympics. “We have a 15-meter wind tunnel for optimizing and customizing the rider’s posture and their cycling wear,” said Bert Celis, CEO of Flander’s Bike Valley.
15-meter wind tunnel in Bike Valley. (Photo provided by Limburg Government)
Furthermore, the Bike Valley provided tight suits to the U.S. running team for the Olympic games, which can increase runners' speed by 0.04 seconds every 100 meters.
Since traffic jams are a common problem worldwide, in order to address the traffic jam problem, Bike Valley is planning to build a cycling superhighway v2.0 to connect the suburban area to the city center. People will be able to go to the city center via the two lanes (45 km/h & 25 km/h), instead of driving a car.
As a small and micro-sized enterprise, RS Scan focuses on helping people run faster without injury through customizing insoles by 3D printing after foot scan analysis. They are now aiming to develop 3D printing shoes which would adapt to people's moving pattern after they are scanned.
"We have high-standard equipment to optimize people's movement in our lab in Limburg," said Tristan Selis, Sales & Marketing Manager of RS Scan. "We also invite people from universities worldwide to analyze the data and work on R&D."
Moreover, located in the middle of “ELA” triangle of Eindhoven, Leuven and Aachen, Limburg has already developed a golden triangle for R&D development among the government, enterprises and universities.
"Our government believes that we have to transfer technology from university to the industry," said van Gastel, Head of Department Invest for Flanders Investment & Trade. "We not only bring the universities to the market, but also launch cluster projects which contain 50% members from university and 50% from the industry."
University of Hasselt in Limburg. (Photo provided by Limburg Government)
Under this kind of collaboration, industry and universities could benefit from cooperation, with the industry telling the university what technology they want, and the university working to predict industrial trends in advance.
Additionally, the under-construction Drone Port will come into service at the end of 2017. The Drone Port will provide a series of services, such as developing repairing technology, a course for controlling drones, and so on.