is one of the world’s prime regions for health, high-tech and creativity; it is a region with a unique ecosystem, where companies, knowledge institutions and the government collaborate closely to create tomorrow’s innovative successes. Johan Merlevede, Managing Director, discusses ’s objectives and activities.
European Times: What are Leuven MindGate major advantages?
Johan Merlevede: is a region with a unique ecosystem of companies which cooperate with knowledge institutions and the government, thus creating a perfect breeding ground for companies, entrepreneurs, investors and talent. It was founded in 2016 when 29 leading knowledge institutions, companies and the City of Leuven joined forces. These three parties represent the Leuven ecosystem in a so-called Triple Helix model.
European Times: Please elaborate on the Triple Helix model.
Johan Merlevede: It is a unique model where companies cooperate with the government and knowledge institutions and create economic development, growth and jobs. Furthermore, the government invests in education in order to create a knowledgeable workforce and in infrastructure in order to create an ideal entrepreneurial climate, and simplifies the laws so local business can grow. The knowledge institutions develop talent and knowledge for the future and encourage innovation through cooperation and the creation of spin-off companies.
European Times: What are Leuven MindGate’s goals and objectives?
Johan Merlevede: Aiming to be the driver of the economic and societal development, we have set two primary objectives. Our first primary objective is to position the Leuven region internationally as a top destination in order to attract talent, investors and companies etc. The second objective is to further strengthen the unique ecosystem. We are firm believers in the crossover between creativity, high-tech and health, so we aim to stimulate cooperation among these fields by bringing together people from theseindustries. In the past year, we have made significant progress in establishing ’s brand, and we aim to become one of the top five high-tech regions in the world.
European Times: What are some of your main activities and achievements?
Johan Merlevede: We are currently working on the improvement of the administrative process and the integration of international knowledge workers. This will further strengthen the attractiveness of the region for international talent.We will organise activities in the International House Leuven, a building which, later on, will also be the home of the Headquarters and of the International School of Leuven etc. Furthermore, we have Vaartopia, which used to be an abandoned, run-down part of Leuven, but now is a hip area booming with creative and artistic activities. Vaartopia is our response to the need for creating a hub with affordable space for the creative sector. Additionally, we and our members are important partners of the Smart City project, which aims to use technology to improve the life of the inhabitants and visitors concerning parking, air quality, shopping. It’s also a crucial step in Leuven’s goal to become climate neutral by 2030.
European Times: What is your personal message?
Johan Merlevede: The Leuven region is very rich in potential; it is an excellent region to work, live, invest and study in and I invite all to put Leuven on their map.