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Column – “All of Europe should feel free to be a bit like Leuven.”

For those who don’t know yet: In September 2020, Leuven won the iCapital Award meaning Europe has acknowledged it as the most innovative European city. As a native of Leuven, it is a great joy that many of us are proud of the city in which they live, study or work. I even dare to hope that you are also a little proud, irrespective of your connection with the Leuven region.

Together with more than 330 member and partner organizations, including V.O. and perhaps many of you, we are of course very happy with this recognition. Leuven MindGate was established in 2016 to strengthen the Leuven ecosystem through cross-pollination and collaboration to get it the international recognition it deserves. The award is a great milestone, the crowning glory, and a strong asset to put Leuven even more firmly on the map regionally and internationally.

In defending the Leuven dossier, we placed a lot of emphasis on the collaborative model, the strength of the ecosystem. Our region’s greatest assets are undoubtedly the short lines of communication and the collaboration between the many amazing players that together form the innovation ecosystem. Top researchers are an incredible asset but don’t lead to innovation by themselves. Driven entrepreneurs are essential but not enough by themselves. A supportive government is required but incomplete. But when they work together, supported by financers, advisors, and civic organizations, among others, we can bring the biggest challenges to a successful conclusion thanks to our innovative solutions.

In Leuven we call that “innovate for the better”, innovations that should improve the lives of everyone in the ecosystem and those of future generations.

Just to rock the boat: no matter how important we consider intellectual property rights to be, we do not want to protect this collaborative model. On the contrary in fact, our ambition is to use it to inspire other European cities. All of Europe should feel free to be a bit like Leuven.

Johan Merlevede – Directeur of Leuven MindGate

Watch the Leuven MindGate video


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