Flanders MAKE, a strategic partner for the Luxembourg automotive sector
On the 5th of October, the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce organised a thematic economic mission with a focus on the automotive sector to Flanders MAKE in Lommel (Belgium), following-up on contacts established through VOKA - Flanders' Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Limburg and Christophe Hansen, the Economic and Commercial Officer of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.
In his introductory speech Johann Leten, Chief Executive of VOKA Limburg, admitted that he wasn’t aware until then of the importance of the automotive sector in Luxembourg, with its more than 9000 employees out of which 2000 are working in R&D. From the Luxembourg side, François Delé, Anthony Auert and Joost Ortjens presented the strengths and future projects of the Luxembourg automotive sector before Dr. Dirk Torfs, the CEO of Flanders MAKE, presented the functioning and the strategy of Flanders MAKE.
Flanders MAKE is above all a strategic research center for the manufacturing industry. Operating from two major sites in Lommel and Leuven (Belgium), and from research facilities at the Flemish universities (VUB, KU Leuven, Antwerp University, Ghent University and Hasselt University), Flanders MAKE stimulates open innovation through excellent research starting from basic pre-competitive research and making the bridge toward industrial research & development. Competence and technology valorisation is in the core DNA of Flanders MAKE and they are structurally supported by the Flemish government as part of a triplex helix model to execute its mission.
Flanders MAKE gathers companies and research institutions, aiming to help realise concrete product and production innovations in the vehicle industry, in mechanical engineering and in production environments. They provide a wide range of services including contract research with companies and building up and using state-of-the art infrastructure for testing leading to faster prototyping.
One of the main goals is to guide and support companies into the Industry 4.0 era and to contribute to the technological development of the vehicles, machines and factories of the future. By doing so, Flanders MAKE creates added value for the manufacturing industry, helping companies innovate better and faster through established project related and structural collaboration between companies in strong ecosystems.
Flanders MAKE also benefits of its direct neighbor, the Ford Lommel Proving Ground, a high-end testing ground which allows to simulate a broad range of real road conditions and to test vehicles and vehicle parts under these conditions. Moreover, during a test drive on the track, the Luxembourg delegation learned about the possibility to test automated and self-driving vehicles on the Ford Lommel Proving Ground and that reservations for on track tests could be made directly via Flanders MAKE also for external clients.
In addition, Flanders MAKE attaches a great importance to international cooperation in the field of innovation and to participation in European research projects under Horizon 2020. Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 aims to drive economic growth and to create new jobs with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.
In this context the mission has been closed by a very positive discussion on possible future collaborations between Flanders MAKE and the Luxembourg automotive sector and the related R&D actors.