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Flanders invests millions in biotechnology

The Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation and Sport, Philippe Muyters, together with VIB's managing directors Jo Bury and Johan Cardoen, and chairman of VIB’s board of directors, Ajit Shetty, signed the agreement between the Flemish Government and VIB for the next 5 years. With this 34% increase in the budget to €59 million annually, the Government confirms VIB’s importance as the driving force of the Flemish biotechnology sector.

“VIB is internationally recognized for its research excellence and proactive approach to translating research results into economic and social added value, a powerful showpiece for Flanders,” explains Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation and Sport, Phillippe Muyters. “As a driving force in the Flemish biotechnology sector, VIB makes a large contribution to the success of this thriving industry. VIB’s new strategic plan can only reinforce the role and impact of the institute. The Flemish Government fully supports this and is providing a €59 million budget annually for the next five years.”

VIB has been researching healthy living and sustainable food production for 20 years. A number of the new initiatives launched by VIB will ensure that the results of basic research will be translated quickly and more efficiently into social and economic added value for Flanders. For example, the work of the 1,500 VIB researchers in cancer biology, neurobiology, plant biology, inflammatory diseases and infections, medical biotechnology, and structural biology will have an even greater impact.

“VIB focuses on basic research which it uses to create added value for Flanders in the form of products, jobs, successful start-ups, and by attracting (foreign) investment. This grant increase allows us to make additional investments in translational research, which will further increase its societal impact,” says Jo Bury. “We will also be able to start a new program, namely the “Grand Challenges program,” in which we combine the strengths of various partners from the Flemish ecosystem and worldwide, within and outside the life sciences sector, to address the great challenges of the future. An interdisciplinary approach is essential in this quest. VIB is committed to its role as a catalyst,” adds Johan Cardoen.

Ajit Shetty, chairman of VIB’s board of directors, states: “The Flemish Government’s substantial investment is an important signal that VIB’s model works and that VIB has an important role to play in the Flemish knowledge economy. For example, more than 700 jobs and €930 million in (foreign) investments are the results of VIB’s start-ups and the establishment of V-BioVentures, an investment fund that has raised nearly €76 million, €30 million of which from the European Investment Fund, based on VIB’s reputation. This economic growth will only increase in the future."

The grant increase is based on VIB’s positive evaluation after a thorough review commissioned by the Flemish Government. An evaluation committee comprising external scientists and consultants evaluated the institute’s scientific, economic and societal impact. This was VIB’s fourth consecutive positive evaluation and essential to achieving its ambitious plans for the future.

Source: VIB

Publication date: 2/23/2017



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