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A new economic strategy for the Biopark

January 30, 2019 |
From left to right: Florence Bosco and Michel Coulon
I-Tech Incubator is no more, long live Biopark Dev! More than just a change in name, this actor of the ecosystem will promote the economic and industrial development of the Biopark.

As it keeps growing at a quick pace, the Biopark will face a number of challenges. ‘We must make sure our resources match our ambition’, says Florence Bosco, CEO of Biopark Dev. ‘To reinforce the position of the Biopark locally and globally, and create a strong biotech ecosystem, it was important to enlarge the missions that the I-Tech Incubator had in charge until today. On December 21, 2018, the incubator's board of directors—which includes ULB, IGRETEC and Sambrinvest—approved both the name change (the organisation's full name is now “Charleroi Brussels South Biopark Dev SA”) and the broadening of its scope of activity.’

Biopark Dev's missions

Biopark Dev will continue to provide support for the creation of biotech companies. However, it now has two other activities in addition to incubation: promoting the growth of businesses that are already active in the Biopark, and facilitating the implantation of foreign businesses.
Florence Bosco explains: ‘Businesses in the Biopark have four types of needs: square footage, talent, funding, and local collaboration opportunities. These needs translate into as many missions and challenges for the new team at Biopark Dev.’

Challenge #1: anticipate the real estate demand and support projects implantation

In order to coordinate real estate development, Biopark Dev, IGRETEC, SRIW(1), and private players are creating a real estate holding company. Its goal will be to anticipate needs, either in terms of volume or in terms of content, to inform real estate actors and define competitive solutions with them. How? ‘By offering standard turnkey solutions’, answers Florence Bosco. ‘Alternatively, we can gather all the actors that may help entrepreneurs in their tailor-made projects, from initial design to funding and actual construction. This lets them focus on their core activity.’

Challenge #2: attract and retain biotech talents

With many companies in the Biopark growing at the same time, there is high pressure to recruit specialised biotech profiles. This is a complex challenge for Biopark Dev, which will be tackled by collaborating with Michel Coulon, new director of ULB Charleroi and by working in a variety of ways:
  • promoting the Biopark and the career opportunities it offers, by reaching out to universities and institutes of higher education in Belgium and abroad;
  • offering more continuing education programmes, including through the ULB HeLSci training centre;
  • pass on to relevant actors mobility issues and work together to find solutions;
  • creating a ‘village square’ where professionals can get together and find everyday services;
  • creating a support and liaison structure dedicated to expats, in collaboration with AWEX.

Challenge #3: gain international recognition

‘We are interested in attracting new biotech companies active in production, R&D, and services’, adds Florence Bosco. ‘Among other things, this includes channelling and meeting the needs of American and Asian biotech companies in terms of expansion to Europe. In order to achieve this, we can rely on the support provided by the Catch Delivery Unit, which will provide additional resources for international business development. Our goal is to implement a targeted and proactive strategy, while also leveraging the strong specialised network that the Biopark has built itself over the years.’

Notes:
(1) ‘Société régionale d’investissement de Wallonie’, a Wallonia-based regional investment company.
Candice Leblanc