UCL RESEARCH UNITS
The Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) is one of the two co-founders of BLSI. The impetus came from the academic authorities wanting to achieve a two-fold objective on their Brussels campus:
- derive greater benefit from its scientific research and
- create closer ties with the entrepreneurial world to provide its cutting-edge technological expertise through rewarding collaborations.
The UCL campus, where BLSI is strategically located, is dedicated to health sciences and includes the faculties of medicine and dentistry, pharmacy and public health together with five internationally-renowned research institutes (de Duve Institute, Institute of NeuroScience, Institute of Experimental and Clinical Research, Institute of Health and Society, Louvain Drug Research Institute).
Since the inauguration of BLSI in 2012, we have initiated contact between the supported start-ups and UCL research units, thanks to the support of the Louvain Technology Transfer Office. The resulting collaborations are very varied in terms of their nature and scope, and include:
- the occasional use of cutting-edge equipment;
- the validation of research hypotheses;
- the gathering of multidisciplinary, inter-connected information (medicine, psychology, engineering, ITC, etc.);
- setting-up an R&D project in partnership;
- the identification of interns or new collaborators.
CLINIQUES UNIVERSITAIRES SAINT-LUC
The Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc and the BLSI incubator share more than just their location on the same campus; they both seek to anticipate, create and support progress. Our respective approaches aim to find put advances in research to very practical use in people's everyday lives.
In his speech to mark the 5th anniversary of BLSI in October 2017, Mr Renaud Mazy, CEO of the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, said, "I am confident that we will identify new areas for collaboration in the future and share our ambition of allowing as many people as possible to benefit from our progress. Whether by allowing start-ups at BLSI to carry out their test phase work in a realistic environment, or on the other hand, by initiating new ideas as a university hospital."
The Cliniques have prepared a very ambitious reconstruction for their building, which is due to open in 2025. Its design will immediately integrate the optimisation of the patient's journey and enhance cross-functionality between disciplines. New technologies will play a major role in this project, covering new medical fields and meeting new healthcare challenges. A few examples:
- The combination of artificial intelligence and big data technologies is an increasingly vital tool for helping doctors provide better treatment for their patients and considerably increase their chances of healing;
- Telemedicine and the development of different sensors will help doctors provide remote medical care and will allow them to obtain indications that are very useful for clinical research;
- Technological devices will allow a better response to the social challenge of an ageing population and the increasing amount of chronic diseases that require smart remote treatment;
- Applications in the Internet of Things (IoT) will aim to improve the multidisciplinary monitoring of patients and effective hospital organisation.
PUBLIC OPERATORS IN BRUSSELS
The Brussels-Capital Region, a co-founder of BLSI with the UCL, provides our start-ups with the many services offered by the operators it has created with the aim of supporting entrepreneurship and creating jobs and innovation through research and development. The BLSI team informs its incubated companies when it detects an opportunity to involve a partner public operator. These services may consist of the provision of information and advice to businesses or the provision of financing mechanisms.
The information and advice cover a broad range of questions, including:
- How do I obtain an environmental permit?
- What legal status should I choose when founding my company?
- Have I included all the necessary information in my financial plan?
- Which bodies should I contact to help me comply with the regulations on the production and marketing of my innovative product?
- How can I find a commercial or technological partner abroad?
- Can you put me in touch with candidates who match the profiles I want to recruit?
- Where in Brussels should I be based once my incubation is completed?
Financing mechanisms can take different forms, including:
- a subsidy or repayable advance to finance an industrial research or experimental development project;
- a loan, capital shareholding or convertible bond to support the launch phase, growth or international expansion;
- a subsidy to partly cover prospecting for new markets abroad;
- a subsidy to partly cover a one-off strategic need, such as the preparation of a business plan, a market study or the introduction of quality control systems.
The most profitable network that BLSI residents can access is the community of young businesses that share the same location in the incubator. The infrastructure has been designed to encourage chance encounters in comfortable communal spaces. What's more, we regularly organise networking and team-building events, as well as seminars on specific themes, as the integration of new arrivals into the community is essential for their development.
Businesses that leave the incubator to strike out on their own often thank us not only for offering them assistance during their time at BLSI, but also for encouraging networking within the incubator, as this allowed them to find solutions to their managerial problems and feel supported by their peers during the different stages of their entrepreneurial adventure.