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Business Forum : Wallonia, Where Smart Companies Invest

With 24% of the publicly listed European biotech companies in Belgium, with an outstanding logistics infrastructure and a strong commitment to net zero CO2, the AWEX Office in London decided to hold a Business Forum with UK stakeholders and investors at the residency of our Ambassador Bruno van der Pluijm. The goal was to showcase our results in #Lifesciences#Greentech#Logistics and highlight the attractiveness of doing business in Wallonia, Belgium.

During the reception hold on Monday, 16th October 2023, we heard from multiple high-profile presenters from the public and private sectors, including Renaud. DeharengHugues BultotMarc Van Den Neste Dominique Demonte and Michel Kempeneers.

Our speakers

Dominique Demonte CEO of Biopark Charleroi - Dominique, a biologist holding a PhD in molecular genetics, has navigated a multifaceted career that spans from research to management and the promotion of knowledge-based regional development. After his role as the head of the life sciences unit at the Technology Transfer Office of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Dominique was entrusted with the position of Deputy Director at the ULB Institute of Medical Immunology. This institute stands as a remarkable public-private partnership, uniting the collaborative efforts of Wallonia, ULB and GSK Biologicals. Currently, Dominique serves as the Director of Biopark Charleroi, a thriving Biotech Cluster comprising 3,300 individuals. Within this dynamic ecosystem, the Biopark is home to three research institutes, hosts 105 innovative companies, fosters a dedicated training centre and nurtures entrepreneurs through its state-of-the-art incubator.

Hugues Bultot CEO of Univercells Group - As founder and CEO since its establishment in early 2013, Hugues has successfully led the company’s advancement in all activities related to business ventures. Hugues brings more than twenty years of expertise as a CEO and serial entrepreneur in the Life Sciences and Biotechnology industries to the global team of experts at Univercells Group. Prior to founding Univercells, he was CEO of MaSTherCell (a leading CMO for cell therapy), Artelis (an innovator and leader in cell culture process optimization), and Kitozyme (a world leading manufacturer of vegetable chitosan). Hugues is a member of the Audit, Remco & Sustainability Committee of Univercells and an active member of several Boards and Committees of various Univercells affiliates. In addition to this, Hugues is also the Vice-President SME of BioWin, the Health Cluster of Wallonia, Belgium.

Marc Van Den Neste Founder & Administrator, EKOSYS - Since June 2022, Marc is founder and administrator of EKOSYS a consulting start-up focused on setting up, developing and  managing innovative cleantech ecosystem.  In 1991, Marc Van Den Neste started his career as a production engineer in the iron and steel company Cockerill Sambre, now in hands of Arcelor Mittal. In 2002, he became Director of the Research & Development Center and in 2007, VP, R&D and Innovation, of AGC Glass Europe (formerly Glaverbel). Under his leadership, the company won the Best Innovator Award Belgium 2009 organised by A.T. Kearney and started building a new R&D Centre which became the Centre of Excellence and Competences in flat glass for AGC worldwide.  In May 2023 he left AGC and founded EKOSYS, a consulting company in charge of helping regions and metropolis to create innovative cleantech ecosystems. With EKOSYS Marc Van Den Neste is still working for AGC as Research & Innovation Public Affairs but is most important mission is to set up a brand-new innovative ecosystem on the industrial wastelands of the “Porte Ouest” of Charleroi: “District Cleantech”.

Michel Kempeneers COO International Affairs - AWEX - Michel is currently leading the International Affairs Department of the Trade & Investment Public Agency of Wallonia Region, Belgium.  Involved in all the upper management of the organization as in member of the board, he supervises the strategy of three main departments : geographic, sectorial and trade fairs & events organization. He supervises also the network of Trade Commissioners based in 90+ countries, representing Wallonia region and companies in attracting foreign investors. Michel was former COO Overseas (2015-2020) and Director for Asia-Pacific Dept (2008-2015). He knows deeply all these countries and acts as a coach for exporting companies and investors coming from Asia. He was also regional director at the proximity office in Liège province area (1999-2008) in charge of Companies' strategic guidance, export projects, advice and orientation for growth strategy.

Renaud Dehareng CEO of Curium Group - Renaud became CEO in 2012, with a vision of increasing profitability and developing Curium into a global leader in nuclear medicine. He achieved this goal with great success, turning the organisation into a larger, more verticallyintegrated institution with a global reach. Renaud is now leveraging Curium’s unique global infrastructure and proven industry experience to serve its nuclear medicine clients with an emphasis on compliance, service reliability, operational excellence and new product development. Renaud has been part of Curium and its predecessors’ companies since 2009. Prior to his current role, he was Group COO and CEO Europe .