SCK•CEN supports ESA incubation centre in Flanders
On Friday 14 December 2012, the first Flemish ESA (European Space Agency) incubation centre was inaugurated, in Geel, Belgium, in the presence of Flemish Minister-President Kris Peeters and Franco Ongaro, ESA Director and Head of the ESA ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Centre) branch in Noordwijk (the Netherlands).
From left to right: Jacques Nijskens (BELSPO, head of Space research), Frank de Winne (ESA astronaut and Head of the European Astronaut Centre), Kris Peeters (Flemish Minister-President), Ludwig Caluwé (Deputy of the Province of Antwerp and chairman of Innotek), Bruno Naulais (ESA Technology Transfer Programme Office).
The ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) is an initiative of the European Space Agency ESA, BELSPO (Belgian Science Policy) and the Flemish Government. The aim is to launch ten new commercial businesses in Flanders over a period of four years. This relates to companies that translate innovative technologies and the know-how arising from space programmes into applications for daily life.
Space technology is often a highly suitable source of intelligent solutions for other sectors, but there are many obstacles to overcome on the road from a creative idea to a successful company. The ESA BICs significantly increase the success rate. As a result, and in addition to their initial objectives - which include telecommunications, meteorology and navigation - space programmes also create new enterprises here on earth and generate local employment.
The Flemish ESA BIC Incubation Centre is co-ordinated by Innotek, the Centre of Excellence for Innovation and Technology, in the province of Antwerp. The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK-CEN) will provide technological assistance with regards to screening projects, as well as technical support and advice. SCK•CEN will also serve on the ESA BIC Flanders Supervisory Board, which develops the strategic guidelines. ESA BIC Flanders is located in two Innotek business premises in Geel and in Mol, where offices and laboratories are available.
Dirk Ceuterick, of the Business Support Unit (BSU) is the contact person within SCK•CEN. On the Innotek side, Wim Dams is the ESA BIC Flanders Co-ordinator.
ESA BIC Flanders is the latest incubation initiative of ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office. There are currently centres in Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Belgium and Italy. All ESA BICs work together with local partners wherever possible.