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Ghent knowledge hub growing strong

Written by ALB on in the category Insights with the tags , .


The Flemish life sciences ecosystem is stronger than ever. This expertise, in biotech and health, is plain to see in the gorgeous city of Ghent. The ‘Technologiepark’ area, located just south of Ghent, is already home to VIB, Ghent University and numerous successful life science companies including Ablynx and Argenx. This stellar cast was further strengthened over the past few weeks by the addition of the Swiss company Sequana Medical and a brand-new life science incubator called Bioscape. The future is looking bright for intellectual industry in Belgium!

The Belgian region of Flanders holds a reputation as one of the foremost life sciences hubs in Europe. There are several cities that stand out in this region, including Leuven, Gosselies and Ghent. The Ghent ‘knowledge hub’  boasts cutting-edge infrastructure, with a broad talent pool of expert academics and entrepreneurs from various institutes, incubators, VC investment firms and life sciences companies alike. This month, two new additions to the group have strengthened the Ghent biotech scene even further.

Flanders is a key hub in the life sciences industry in Europe, known for its top scientific research and renowned investment funds. - Rudy Dekeyser, Sequana Medical
 

A changing landscape

A part of the growing Ghent biotech hub, Bioscape is a brand-new bio-incubator project situated in the ‘knowledge center’ just south of the city. The campus, comprising of four state-of-the-art buildings, is the brainchild of investor Rudi Mariën and his son Stefan. The members of Mariën family have been key contributors to the biotech scene in Ghent for many years; Rudi established his company Innogenetics over thirty years ago and has since invested in numerous science infrastructure projects over the past few decades.

The Bioscape campus itself spans a full 16’000 square meters, with the buildings set up to accommodate everything a budding company needs, from offices and conference spaces to state-of-the-art labs. The campus has the capacity to host over a dozen startup companies. Stefan Mariën says:

“'Bioscape is home to growth companies, or ‘scale-ups’. These are companies that are developing a product or a technology, in phase I or II, that suddenly need more space because they have been given a financial boost and can therefore accelerate into a higher gear.”

We have excellent scientists in Belgium, motivated entrepreneurs and now also the adapted infrastructure. - Stefan Mariën
 

The multi-million-euro project has already attracted four companies to the site: Argenx, ActoBio Therapeutics, MyCartis and Eurofins Amatsi. Stefan Mariën commented on the benefits of Bioscape’s position in Flanders:

“Ghent enjoys a good reputation as a knowledge center; not only in Belgium, but also outside our borders. We have excellent scientists in Belgium, motivated entrepreneurs and now also the adapted infrastructure.”

Fresh foreign talent

The Swiss company Sequana Medical recently announced their intention open a new corporate headquarters in Ghent. The announcement also came with the information that Sequana have secured an investment of 8.5Mil euros from leading Belgian and Flanders-based investors, including Newton Biocapital, PMV and SFPI-FPIM, as well as existing shareholders.

Ghent enjoys a good reputation as a knowledge center; not only in Belgium, but also outside our borders. - Stefan Mariën
 

Ian Crosbie, the Sequana CEO, is very pleased with his company’s progress:

“Moving our corporate headquarters to Ghent will allow us to benefit from Flanders’ attractive healthcare ecosystem and support for life sciences companies, as well as strengthen our commercial ties within the EU.”

Rudy Dekeyser, Chairman of Sequana, added:

"Flanders is a key hub in the life sciences industry in Europe, known for its top scientific research and renowned investment funds.”

The Belgian investors are also excited about the partnership, with Chris De Jonghe, head of Life Sciences & Care at PMV, commenting:

"We are very pleased to have attracted a high-quality company like Sequana Medical, which matches well with the Flanders' healthcare ecosystem.”

Growing Ghent

During the middle ages, Ghent was the second largest and richest city in Europe, surpassed only by Paris. A glowing example of a city-state full of innovation, excellence and trade. As happens in history, fortunes rise and fortunes fall; Ghent is nowadays often overlooked in favor of its larger, showier neighbors. However, these past few decades have continually demonstrated that Ghent is reclaiming its spot in the limelight on the world stage. In an era of modern discoveries and innovations, Ghent is at the vanguard of the booming field of life sciences. It is exciting to see a Belgian city so transformed, from old industry to new technology; a rising star in the European Union’s life sciences ecosystem.

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