Northern Connections

Brussels pushes innovation power to the next level

27 November 2019 - Published by Anne Katrine Arentsen
Over 150 participants attended the sixth Living Lab Event, which was held in Brussels, Belgium during the G-STIC - the global and sustainable technology and innovation conference. The key focus of the Living Lab Event was to connect innovative suppliers with the two challenges owners, Blue Gate Antwerp and Green Energy Park.

The organizing partners, Blue Gate Antwerp, Green Energy Park and Cleantech Flanders welcomed all the participants at Brussels Expo Hall 10 last Wednesday. The event program was filled with valuable key notes speakers from all over Europe and pitches from the 15 innovative suppliers, who was screened and selected in order for them to accommodate and match the challenges that the two challenge owners had presented before the event.


Blue Gate Antwerp and Green Energy Park were the two starters at the event, where they centred their presentations around their challenges. Dimitri Torfs, Management Committee at Blue Gate Antwerp, talked about the well-defined ambition that they had and how they wanted to develop a mobility hub that supports an evolution to fossil free and shared mobility services onsite as well as towards the city.

Additionally, Thierry Coosemans, Research Project Manager at Vrije University in Brussels, was presenting the Green Energy Park and how they wished to centre their expertise around sustainable energy systems, mobility, smart regions and healthcare technology. Their ambition is to develop a multi energy grid that consists of a low temperature thermal grid, using recovered heat from the date centre – in the relation he stated: “that this is only possible if we work together, but also if we work and find the right stakeholders and solution providers.”

Stef Denayer, Business Developer at Cleantech Flanders, who was one of the organizers from Cleantech Flanders and also the moderator during the Living Lab Event, had high expectations of the event, and he stated the following before the event: “My expectations for the event are high. Even though, we have the plenary session and good keynote speakers, for me the most important factor in the Living Lab Event is the one-to-one meetings. I hope we find some good matches.” Stefanie De Smet, Project Manager at Cleantech Flanders, was also one of the organizers of the event, said that the most essential thing for them as organizers was “that the challenge owners and the solution providers finds interesting parts in terms of working together.”

Possible partnerships have been created
Luckily, the challenge owners returned to the organizers with such great positive feedback, because they thought the event had been a success in the favour. The challenge owners had more than 21 pre-arranged one-to-one meetings with the solution providers from all over Europe, who came to participate and take part in the Living Lab Event in Brussels. Green Energy Park thought that there were more than several of the solutions that would fit into their challenges and Jimmy Vane More, Director Business Development at Green Energy Park, who participated in all of the one-to-one meetings said afterwards: “The Living Lab Event has just been a start for some possible good matches and a further business process. We also had some really positive talk with some interesting contacts from Sweden. We had a good talk about sharing experiences and knowledge across our two countries.”

Dimitri Torfs, who represented Blue Gate Antwerp, also returned with good feedback about the event. The Blue Gate Antwerp appreciated the exposure, since they are not so well-known yet, and this event gave them the opportunity to link the project with innovative SME’s and have some interesting talks with potential business partners. Both of the challenge owners are in dialogue with some of the companies about new opportunities after the event.

More than just a business deal
It was not only the challenge owners, who were excited about the outcome, many of the solution providers thought it gave them new contacts and great value to their business by attending the event in Brussels. FluidTech from Denmark was one of the participants, and the company had an interesting talk with Green Energy Park, but they also said that they met up after with many interesting people to talk to about their business and new opportunities. “We wound definitely recommend other people to attend an event like this, because it is a great opportunity for your business” said Mario Javier Pérez from FluidTech. FluidTech is developing a new expander technology based in a concept known as positive displacement expanders, which initial academic experiments have shown to be effective and cost-efficient in the range of kW electric production.

Skoon Energy, which is a scale-up company with the mission to accelerate the energy transition by setting up a network of versatile swappable batteries, to share, rent and lease, was also present and excited to meet the challenge owners and to present them was Iori van den Doel. He said after the meeting that: “I can see the potential in a collaboration, I also think they can. We can work together and create an energy mobility hub and sustainable shipping and distribution. I can only say it was a meeting with big potential. And furthermore, I have really expanded my network and our network at Skoon. It was so great to be a part of.”

Another participant, who had some great experiences during the event, was Amelie Krahl from Germany. She came to present the SunOyster product at a one-to-one meeting. The SunOyster is a new concentrating solar technology for the co-generation of power and heat. Amelie stated this after the meeting: “It went very well, and I can only say that it is a possible cooperation.”

A great inspiration – to the next Living Lab(s)
Marta Eizaguirre, Project Manager at Scottish Enterprise, and the other partners in Northern Connections were so happy about the execution of the Living Lab Event. Marta Eizaguirre was feeling inspired by the event and was telling how she will take the good examples from the event in Brussels and put them into the next Living Lab Event in Scotland. You can read more about the next LL event here.
Marta Eizaguirre said the following about the preparation for the next LL event: “We are preparing the last Living Lab Event in this round of the project. So, we obviously have some advantages, and we are therefore taken all the advantages with us in order to be best prepared. Everyone is so supportive, and we really appreciate this in our learnings. We are able to pick up the specific activities in order for us to create value to the participants and be more organised to execute a B2B matchmaking event, as they also did in Alkmaar.”


Another person, who was also very much inspired by the Living Lab Event was Maria Gaden, Project Manager at Region Midt. Maria Gaden is also a partner in Northern Connections and at a daily basis she is working with Sustainable Hospitals at Region Midt. The Living Lab Event gave her the opportunity to talk with other partners about a potential Living Lab Event in Denmark, where sustainable hospitals are in focus as challenge owners. However, for now the idea is only a potential event.