Flanders launches FTI: technology for a hopeful future
"Innovation is the only way to win". Flemish prime minister Jambon already referred to those words of Steve Jobs during his September statement. The Flemish government now launches Flanders Technology & Innovation (FTI), a large-scale project on technology and innovation.
With an investment of 3.6 of its GDP, Flanders is one of the leading regions in research and development. 'We are currently in the midst of the fifth industrial revolution, which revolves around data. The aim is to boost and highlight current technology and to enthuse the young generation', says Jambon.
Specifically, the intention is to work together with a "coalition of the willing" - which includes companies and knowledge centers in addition to the government itself - on five major challenges: energy and climate, health and nutrition, lifelong learning, data and, finally, media and entertainment.
According to the government, FTI is to be a "progress project" which is supposed to give the Fleming hope for the future. 'There is a lack of faith in the future. I sense that the belief that we are sufficiently armed to cope with that challenging future is gone among large layers of the population. People often don't know what we have to offer in Flanders. In Europe, we are the third largest innovative region in the world. Those are fantastic numbers. I am convinced that not every Fleming is aware of that,' says minister Jambon.
Five thematic symposia will be organized around those themes between now and the end of 2023. The first symposium, which will take place in mid-December, will not coincidentally revolve around energy. Major public events are then also planned in March 2024, spread across the five Flemish provinces.
'We are going to use the crisis to become more energy independent. At the moment, two houses are being built in Genk that will be the first climate-neutral houses in Flanders. These are homes that generate more energy than they consume. That is building the future today for the Flanders of tomorrow,' explains Flemish minister of Economy, Work and innovation, Jo Brouns.
The Flemish head of government has long been walking around with the ambitious plan for a successor to Flanders Technology International's 1980s technology fairs.The corona crisis pushed those plans to the back burner for a while, but against the background of the current energy crisis, the Flemish government now considers the time ripe. Not only because technology and innovation are decisive in the search for solutions to challenges related to energy, climate and sustainability, but also because, according to Jambon, the Flemish people yearn for a hopeful project, a project to "counteract social acidification".
The launch of FTI also involves new images. The iconic image of hands from the 1980s - showing the handshake between a human hand and a robot hand - has been swapped for a new image of a head containing a kind of network map of Flanders. FTI will also get a new logo somewhat reminiscent of the lion in the Flemish government's house style, which will be used in communications about the project.
© BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ - Flemish Minister President Jan Jambon during the traditional speech after the summer recess, Thursday 29 September 2022 in Brussels.