Smart Hub Flemish Brabant

Evelyne Sauvage
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Type of Network

About us

Smart Hub Flemish Brabant is a cluster initiative of the province of Flemish Brabant. Flemish Brabant is a knowledge region in the centre of Belgium encircling Brussels, the capital of the European Union. Initiators are the province of Flemish Brabant, VOKA Flemish Brabant (Flanders' Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven, University Leuven), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB, University Brussels) and Provinciale Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij Vlaams-Brabant (POM, Provincial Development Company).

Its mission is to stimulate innovation, encourage collaboration between knowledge institutions and SMEs and attract (foreign) investment. Key activities include networking, exchange of knowledge and expertise, information dissemination and customised business support services to stimulate innovation activities. Smart Hub Flemish Brabant includes 5 innovative tech clusters: health, food, logistics, cleantech, media and creative industry.

1. Health

Health is a human right, but global killers such as cancer and Alzheimer are still running rampant. Luckily, people become more aware of their quantified self, have better access to health care and increasingly take care of each other as we all grow older.

Smart Hub Health supports this evolution with a focus on biotech, medical devices, bioelectronics, regenerative medicine and e-health. This is enabled by advancements made in nanotech, ICT, 3D printing, new materials, photonics, biotechnology and a healthcare-driven society.

2. Food

Belgians are true gourmets, so take our word for it when we say that your well-being starts with good food. While our reputed beers, fries and chocolates mainly feed the soul, we believe that healthy food should be simple, fresh, sustainable and delicious. In Smart Hub Food, techies, companies and foodies prepare new creations such as gluten-free nutrition, improved sugar beet seeds, photonics-driven sorting technology and food quality sensors.

The Innovative Feed Food Health campus in Tienen is a research park in Tienen with at its heart a start-up incubator surrounded by a state-of-the-art industry zone. It is an initiative of the University of Leuven and the city of Tienen and focusses on groundbreaking initiatives, advancements and activities in the broad domain of healthy food and healthy feed. 

Other international key players, all located in Tienen, are the following partners: CitriqueBelge - a leader among Western citric acid suppliers, SESVanderHave - an international market leader in the sugar beet seed industry, specialising in every aspect of the production of sugar beet seed - and the 'RaffinerieTirlemontoise' (Tiense Suikerraffinaderij) - market leader in Belgium producing sugar for industry and for every day consumption (icing sugar, brown sugar, etc.) for Belgium, for the EU market and the world market. 

3. Logistics

Innovation is born out of necessity. Congestion, sensitive hi-tech as well as the trade needs of world’s most open economy gave birth to some of the smartest innovations in Belgian logistics.

The national airport is Belgium's main gateway by air and second economic engine. The cargo area specializes in pharmaceuticals, perishables and automotive logistics. Brussels Airport, located in the middle of one of Europe’s strongest pharma clusters, is the preferred European pharma gateway. Brussels Airport is at the front when it comes to innovation in the handling of pharmaceuticals, with projects on live GPRS tracking of shipments, and GDP certification of the entire supply chain.

Smart Hub Logistics flattens our world with breakthroughs in expediting perishables, pharmaceuticals, biotech, car parts, animals and diamonds, as well as expertise in airport technology, RFID and multimodal transport.

4. Cleantech

Saving the planet is no longer the sole province of tree huggers. Cleantech has grown into a multibillion dollar industry which now contributes to a company’s added value and cost-efficiency, a country’s resource independence and society’s living environment.

Smart Hub Cleantech has blossomed into cutting-edge technology used for sustainable energy production, smarter energy consumption, circular materials , mobility and industrial processes.

5. Creativity

No innovation without a dash of quirky creativity. The gentrifying Vaartkom of Leuven or the media strip of Vilvoorde, for example, are two hotbeds where cool cats lurk. They create an experience economy for the entire globe to enjoy.

From stage design at Atlanta’s TomorrowWorld to HD footage at Brazil’s FIFA World Cup, these sophisticated cosmopolites of our Smart Hub Creativity make for some sophisticated entertainment.

In order to realise the transformation within our province, Smart Hub Flemish Brabant aims at 4 main objectives:

  1. Community building: Smart Hub Flemish Brabant gathers SMEs and other companies, knowledge institutions and authorities to encourage cooperation and innovation. Smart Hub organises activities and sets up initiatives to match these actors and foster co-development. 
  2. Project management: support, guidance and financing of cooperation projects between SMEs, other companies, knowledge institutions and authorities in key point clusters. These projects should have an added value for Flemish Brabant as enterprising and innovative region.
  3. Branding: Promotion and profiling of Flemish Brabant as unique knowledge region in Belgium and abroad, and as such attract companies towards science- and business parks in Flemish Brabant.
  4. Internationalisation: stimulate and initiate international cooperation for SMEs and knowledge institutions from Flemish Brabant. These actions are primarly oriented towards the focus regions of the province Flemish Brabant: Province of Northern-Brabant (the Netherlands), Rhein-Neckar Metropolitan region (Germany), Skåne region (Sweden), Copenhagen Capital Region (Denmark) and Chengdu (China).

Smart Hub Flemish Brabant focusses on 5 key enabling technologies. These technologies are the basis for many innovative applications and help find solutions for societal challenges. In the 5 spearhead clusters, these technologies and the associated knowledge centres play an important role as well.

NANOTECHNOLOGY: Imec is the world-leading R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. It employs 3.500 top scientists from all over the world.

MICRO- AND NANOELECTRONICS: Besides Imec, there is also the Leuven Center on Information and Communication

Technology (LICT) that performs ground breaking research in this field. And DSP Valley unites companies and knowledge institutions in a European ‘cluster of excellence’ in Smart Electronic Systems.

PHOTONICS: The Brussels Photonics Team (B-PHOT) of the VrijeUniversiteit Brussel (VUB) performs pioneering research in the science and technology of light.

ADVANCED MATERIALS: The KU Leuven Materials Research Centre (LMRC) researches new materials.

And the KU Leuven is a key partner in the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) ‘Raw Materials’.

BIOTECHNOLOGY: KU Leuven and VUB host important departments of the Flemish Biotechnology

Institute. Besides these cutting edge research facilities, the knowledge province of Flemish Brabant also boasts numerous innovative companies in this field.

ADVANCED PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGIES: Trend-setting companies such as Materialise and 3D Systems Layerwise

Why should partners choose us for cooperation?

Smart Hub Flemish Brabant encourages innovation, promotes cooperation between SMEs and knowledge institutions and attracts (foreign) investment in the five innovative clusters of the Flemish Brabant knowledge region: Health, Logistics, Food, Cleantech and Creativity. These five clusters are driven by key enabling technologies, such as nano-electronics, advanced materials, photonics, ICTetc. In all these areas, the knowledge institutions and companies of Flemish Brabant are global leaders. By focusing on these priority sectors, Smart Hub Flemish Brabant strengthens and promotes the province as a unique knowledge region with pioneering knowledge institutions and innovative businesses.

In combination with its unrivalled position, the presence of Belgium’s national airport and its science parks make Flemish Brabant the ideal point of access to Europe. Particularly strong relations are being developed with innovative regions in neighboring countries and Scandinavia and with Chinese partner city Chengdu. There in Chengdu is the 'Tianfu Life Science Cluster‘Chengdu where several life sciences companies are located.

The province of Flemish Brabant partners in and promotes European projects as a tool to develop the economy and the environment. Flemish Brabant works with regions, sectors and individual actors that match local strengths and needs. There is a strong focus on relations that promote excellence in life sciences and health, food, logistics, cleantech and creative industries.

Smart Hub Flemish Brabant has an extensive network of SME oriented contacts, especially in its focus regions Noord-Brabant, Rhein-Neckar, Copenhagen and Skane. Moreover VOKA (Flanders' Chamber of Commerce and Industry), one of the initiatiators and supporters of Smart Hub Flemish Brabant, is - alongside Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) - the Flemish contact point for EEN (Enterprise Europe Network), which helps companies to innovate and grow internationally.

More information:

Contact person: Roel Casteels, coordinator  Smart Hub Flemish Brabant - roel.casteels [at]

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