Tine Schaerlaekens becomes new Managing Director of spearhead cluster Catalisti


Tine Schaerlaekens will become the new Managing Director of Catalisti, the cluster for innovation in chemistry and plastics, from 1 January 2024. She succeeds Joris Van Droogenbroeck who held the position ad interim since June. The 47-year-old Tine is currently director of innovation at essenscia, the chemicals and life sciences sector federation. Her appointment was announced at the annual Catalisti-Moonshot Day.

Graduating as a bioengineer from KU Leuven, Tine Schaerlaekens started her career as a PhD researcher in the Laboratory of Bacteriology at the Rega Institute. After six years as a postdoctoral project leader at the VIB (Flemish Institute for Biotechnology), she joined essenscia in 2010. There, she guided companies and SMEs with innovation projects in sustainable and bio-based chemistry. In this capacity, she was already working part-time at Catalisti between 2012 and 2021. As adviser and director of innovation at essenscia, she was also a co-founder of BlueChem, the incubator for sustainable chemistry in Antwerp.

Catalisti is one of the seven Flemish spearhead clusters. These are organisations that set up partnerships between companies, knowledge institutions and government organisations in strategically important sectors, such as chemistry, to stimulate innovations. Catalisti operates from chemistry incubator BlueChem in Antwerp and from there also coordinates the Moonshot programme for climate innovation in cooperation with the Flemish government, all Flemish universities and the other spearhead clusters. The Moonshot programme is an industrial innovation programme of the Flemish government to move towards a CO2-neutral industry by 2050.

The right connections

Tine Schaerlaekens: "I am very much looking forward to helping shape and implement the innovation agenda for chemistry and plastics with the Catalisti team. We have a powerful ecosystem for innovation in Flanders, across sectors. By making the right connections between companies, universities, research centres, incubators and sector organisations, we can make even better use of the available potential. I am motivated to really make a difference for climate, energy, environment, circular economy and bio-based chemistry with joint innovation projects."

The news was announced during the Catalisti-Moonshot Day. Both existing Catalisti and Moonshot collaborations, as well as start-ups and scale-ups, presented their innovative technologies and solutions to a connoisseur audience. Among the topics discussed were recycling techniques for plastics, alternatives to fossil raw materials and conversion of captured CO2.