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Wallonia, creative and innovative, inventive and creating.

Posted: 10th September 2018

Above all, Wallonia means a climate, an environment that is particularly favourable to new ideas, imagination and innovation.

As a region that naturally excels in creativity, Wallonia is a place of meetings, exchange and sharing of expertise, an inspired location where multiple top level skills combine and regularly result in global innovations. These countless talents, whether remarkable or ordinary, that mark Wallonia’s history could never have come to the fore without a system of education and training that is rigorous, demanding and varied.

And the Wallonia of talents is also rich in diversity: it flourishes in the numerous high-tech laboratories where science is created and humanity develops as well as in these places where the fertile imagination of designers, artists and creators transforms life and reinvents the world.

Whether we are talking about basic research or applied research, Wallonia is well-known and recognised as a region at the cutting edge of technological development. And first and foremost, it owes this to the quality and density of its higher and university education:130 colleges, 9 university centres grouped into 3 regional education authorities (in Wallonia and Brussels), which attract tens of thousands of students, among whom are many foreign students and doctoral students. At least 13,000 researchers work in the French-speaking universities and 700 doctorates are awarded each year. Numerous international distinctions and awards have in addition been awarded to researchers and scientists from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, including recently, in 2013, the Nobel prize for Physics to François Englert

This technological know-how makes an effective contribution to the creation and
development of cutting-edge companies on an international scale. As a result, over 200 spin-offs have been created based on university research and now constitute real technology jewels seeking to conquer international markets.

This knowledge transfer looked after by 6 Knowledge Transfer Offices distributed
throughout Walloon (and Brussels) territory, harmoniously supplements a vast interconnected system that mutualises means, skills and resources. So 300 public and private research centres, almost 20 centres of excellence and 6 science and technology parks make cooperation between researchers, innovative start-ups, SMEs and large industrial groups possible, for the benefit of economic development.

This fluidity of the system and this great proximity to promoters of innovation is successfully embodied in the Competitiveness centres, a major focus of Walloon economic development policy. Biotechnology and health, mechanical, aeronautical and space engineering, green chemistry and sustainable materials, agro-industry, transportation and logistics: a fast developing series of sectors where Walloons are proving successful and which make Walloon competitiveness centres a valuable example in this area. And this strategy is proving even more effective to the extent that it perfectly combines with a group of more specialist and highly competitive clusters and business networks, especially in the areas of eco-construction, sustainable energy, the plastics industry, image and sound techniques and Information and Communication Technologies.

Wallonia gives itself the resources for its innovation policies. It invests heavily in excellence centres,which are leading the region in the path of employment and growth. It is also proposing a set of financial measures to support R&D and investment and is providing the financial means to promote the creation, development and growth of companies with great technological potential. It is not surprising therefore that Walloon industry has conquered and continues to conquer the world, with many world leaders in their sectors. It is not surprising either that an impressive number of foreign enterprises have relocated here to benefit from this know-how and the remarkable skills of resear-chers and technical staff.In 2013 Wallonia was designated as a «European Creative District» by the European Commission, among 44 other candidate regions: it’s not just the international recognition of its enormous creative and innovative potential, but also the fact that this highlights the role that creative and cultural industries can play in adding value to its economy through design, creativity and the contribution of trans-sectoral collaboration.

By Walloon Export and Foreign Investment Agency (AWEX)

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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