First Flemish industry summit focuses on innovation and future

The first Flemish industry summit took place on Saturday morning in the Lotto Arena in Antwerp as part of the ten-day Flanders Technology & Innovation (FTI) event.

Industry associations, the Flemish government and several hundred CEOs gathered to discuss innovation and the future of industry in Flanders.

Flemish industry has been hit hard recently, with recent events including the looming bankruptcy of bus manufacturer Van Hool. The industrial summit and FTI aim to offer hope for the future.

Future pact

The government of Flanders and the industry associations Agoria, essenscia, Fedustria and Fevia have signed a pact for the future with five building blocks to be tackled: competitiveness and international trade, investment and legal certainty, innovation, talent and energy and the circular economy.

The federations said that industry in Flanders accounts for a quarter of employment and half of all exports, making it essential to creating sustainable prosperity. It must therefore be given every opportunity to continue to grow in Flanders, they said.

Flemish industry faces challenges such as expensive raw materials and energy that have to come from abroad, and high labour costs compared to surrounding countries, the federations said.

Combining industry and sustainability

"A prosperous future for Flanders is impossible without a strong and decisive manufacturing industry," said Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon. "But our companies are facing enormous challenges."

"Fortunately, there has recently been a realisation at all levels that we also need to combine an industrial agenda with the sustainability agenda," said Jambon. "With the future pact we are now signing together, we are laying down a clear path for a sustainable, efficient and strong industry in Flanders."

"The future pact is also explicitly a cooperation between politics and industry, where we are committed to issues such as dual education, STEM education, concluding international agreements, improving the competitiveness of our industry, etc.," said Jambon.

The FTI event as a whole is designed to put Flanders back on the map in terms of innovation. "We are now in what is called the fourth industrial revolution," said Jambon. "With FTI, we want to show our technology and innovation to the public, so that young people can be inspired and companies can present themselves."


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