Chemicals and plastics sector pioneering interregional innovation projects


Brussels, Flemish and Walloon companies collaborating within the same innovation project with public support. It seems obvious, but until now this was only possible for SMEs under strict conditions. Spurred on by the chemicals and plastics sector, the competent public authorities are now opening up their regional borders to also support joint innovation projects between larger companies and knowledge institutions from different parts of the country. To this end, a unique principle agreement was signed today by Catalisti, the Flemish spearhead cluster for chemistry and plastics, Greenwin, the Walloon innovation cluster for sustainable technologies, and the regional government organisations VLAIO, SPW Recherche and Innoviris. 

The power of innovation lies in cooperation: between large companies and SMEs, between companies and knowledge institutions, between partners at home and abroad. In Belgium, the SME programme Bel-SME demonstrates that interregional cooperation between partners from different regions also offers economic and social added value. At the request of the chemical and plastics sector, such 'cross-border' innovation projects are now also becoming possible for large companies and cluster projects. The agencies of the three regional governments - VLAIO (Flanders), SPW Recherche (Wallonia) and Innoviris (Brussels) - are setting up a coordinated cooperation with adapted procedures for this purpose.

Moreover, it is not just theoretical principles and fine declarations. Catalisti and Greenwin are already organising a matchmaking event in Edegem today to bring together companies and knowledge institutions from Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia. The chemical and plastics sector aims to launch the first interregional innovation projects as soon as possible.

Frank Beckx, managing director essenscia vlaanderen, sector federation of chemistry and life sciences: "Innovation does not stop at the borders of the three regions in our country. Chemistry and plastics is a strategic sector for the different regions and we are pleased that the government supports our request to set up interregional innovation projects. This cooperation model can be an inspiration for other industries."

Jan Van Havenbergh, Managing Director Catalisti, chemistry and plastics spearhead cluster: "We sometimes literally bumped into borders within our innovation projects. It is a good thing that we are now demolishing those walls to join forces and share knowledge. More collaboration leads to more innovation. Everyone benefits from that."

Bart Candaele, Acting Administrator General VLAIO (Flemish Agency for Innovation & Entrepreneurship), Katrien Mondt, Director General Innoviris (The Brussels Institute for Research and Innovation) and Rose Detaille, Inspector General of the Department of Research and Technological Development of the Walloon Public Service (SPW Recherche): "Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels Region are today making it clear that they put the customer first and that mutual borders play no role in the joint desire to support companies to innovate. This will eventually benefit all three regions."