Bruno Reyntjens
Commercial Director VITO

The road to a sustainable, prosperous economy and society inevitably runs via cleantech. Cleantech or clean, 'green' technology is found within a broad range of solutions, processes and products or services with a technological component. Cleantech thus contributes towards reducing man's ecological footprint and climate impact.

Besides environmental and climate benefits, cleantech also focuses on economic added value. This explains why all sectors of our Flemish economic fabric will benefit from the further integration of cleantech into business operations: it is a win-win for everyone, and thus for society as a whole. In this annual report, we discuss cleantech from the various, different perspectives, including energy provision, material and water usage, air quality, and health and draw on examples from the construction sector. In this sector, in the context of its Green Deal, the European commission envisages an unparalleled wave of renovation that will bring about technological but also social and financial innovations.

Cleantech, of course, will be applied at locations across the board, not just in buildings and built-up areas. Cleantech will penetrate all sectors. The transition to a sustainable society will be pushed along from all sectors and will affect every citizen. The win-win nature of cleantech is also evident in the double interview with Frans Snijkers and Charlotte Struye. ‘R&D in cleantech leads to new solutions that contribute towards the systemic transition to a sustainable world,’ it says. ‘That has a positive impact on both the environment and the climate, as well as the economy.’ A sustainable economy not only reduces our environmental and climate impact, but makes us and our society healthier too. In this report, you can also find out more about the significant impact that cleantech can have on our mental and physical health. As Charlotte Struye puts it: ‘The focus on a more sustainable world translates into new technologies that contribute towards our quality of life.’

Cleantech Flanders' mission is to mutually connect the various stakeholders in the Flemish cleantech community and put them in contact with traditional companies from a very wide range of sectors. This is why we highlight various innovative entrepreneurs such as Encon and Qpinch, and also announce the Cleantech Hero campaign in this report. The development of the Cleantech community is Cleantech Flanders' mission and will be the key to success both in Flanders and abroad, as demonstrated by our close structural collaboration with Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT).

Enjoy reading,

Bruno Reyntjens
Commercial Director at VITO

INTERVIEW: Cleantech radiates optimism

Charlotte Struye
Deputy Director Cleantech Flanders
Director Cleantech Flanders

Learn more about this report

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in the

According to the quote "Never let a good crisis go to waste", the current recession, caused by COVID-19, creates an interesting opportunity for strengthening the economy and making it more sustainable. There is much potential for this, including a better approach to buildings, the built environment and long-term planning for land use. The current efforts in the reforestation of Flanders and the debate around the concrete stop show that this is already being addressed.

But there is more. Because citizens interact with their homes and their living environment on a daily basis, a lot of attention is automatically paid to the quality aspect in the short and long term. It is precisely this involvement that makes it possible to take steps forward.

Experts highlight the importance of sustainability and cleantech in the fields of energy, water and circularity in the cross-section of buildings and the built environment. Maarten De Groote explains how buildings can make their energy consumption more sustainable by application of innovative cleantech solutions. Also circularity, contributed by Wim de Backer, and a smart approach of ground water drainage on construction sites (contributed by Alain Ducheyne) can significantly reduce the sector’s footprint. Marianne Stranger's contribution shows how great the impact of buildings is on our mental well-being and physical health. Finally, the interview with Robin Bruninx focuses on Encon's Infinity building as a practical example of integrated solutions.

Clusters and innovative Cleantech

The six Flemish spearhead clusters, Catalisti (chemicals and plastics), Blue Cluster (blue economy), Flanders Food (agro&food), Flux50 (energy), SIM (materials) and VIL (logistics), are all working on cleantech in Flanders. Numerous projects are initiated for research and development, for example on new materials, the reuse of materials, low-CO2 energy production, or the logistical organisation for reuse.

Moreover, the spearhead clusters work on projects that exceed the scope of their own spearhead cluster. By initiating projects at the intersection of two or more domains, Flanders can take an even further step in cleantech. VLAIO (Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship) gives an extra incentive by also providing funds for this.

Within the project work of the clusters, a total of 26 projects were approved in 2020 for aid to the tune of around 30 million euros within, or related to, the Circular Economy or climate/energy. Together with companies, knowledge institutions and universities, the Catalisti spearhead cluster translates the climate ambitions of the Flemish government into so-called Moonshot projects which, together, form a future-oriented industrial innovation programme. In 2020, 13 moonshot projects were approved with a total subsidy size of 19.1 million euros.

Three cluster projects further explained >

The importance of internationalisation

Who says internationalisation, also says Flanders Investment & Trade. Claire Tillekaerts, at the helm of FIT, explains the expansion of the Science & Technology Offices and the importance of internationalisation for our Flemish companies. Flanders is at the top of European and worldwide innovative regions, and that also includes cleantech. Qpinch & Inopsys are good examples of Flemish cleantech companies that are conquering the world.

Frans Snijkers, director of Cleantech Flanders, shines his light on the Green Deals, both at European and Flemish level, and explains why they represent great opportunities.

Finally, we look at the new maritime research centre in Ostend where new testing infrastructure is available, giving a new boost to opportunities for both researchers and companies.

Cleantech Heroes propagate cleantech innovation

Innovative cleantech solutions deserve to be put in the spotlight. Four times a year, we award a company or organisation the title of Cleantech Hero, each time in a different cleantech domain.

Read More >

Cleantech Hero Watertechnology

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Houthalen, 31 December 2020

Responsible publisher: Frans Snijkers, Director
Text: Cleantech Flanders
Concept and design: Kaplus

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