You are here

Export Lion Award 2021: the six nominees have been announced!

The past export year has truly been exceptional. Despite the hard blows dealt by the global health crisis, at FIT, we’ve maintained our tradition: once again, we are celebrating Flanders’ export success by presenting our Export Lion Award for the 20th consecutive time.

With shortlist of submitted candidates created by a professional jury, the first hurdle in the contest process has now been cleared in this anniversary edition. The shortlisted companies will compete for this prestigious export award in the coming months. Here’s a brief introduction to the nominees of this Export Lion Award anniversary edition. 

A symbol of Flanders’ export success 

With the yearly presentation of this award, FIT underscores the importance of international trade for the economy of Flanders. The Export Lion Award ensures national recognition for the winner and nominees, but also opens international doors, thanks to our foreign network. On 29 September 2021, we will present the award for the 20th time to two Flanders-based companies with outstanding export achievements. 

Contest proceedings and rules 

To qualify for the Export Lion Award, companies must have a registered office in Flanders from which they transport goods or services, and therefore contribute to Flanders’ welfare. Businesses can participate in two different categories: ‘companies with up to 49 employees’ and ‘companies with 50 or more employees’. 

In two jury rounds, the participating firms are assessed on their export growth and turnover figures, geographical diversification efforts, export policy lines, corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, innovative strength, and on specific elements that contributed to their export success, among other criteria. 

In the first round, an internal FIT jury selects the three top-scoring companies from each category. These nominees for the Export Lion Award then present their competition files to a final 10-person jury.  

The external jury consists of experts from business and academic domains and the two award winners from 2020, Caeleste and FAM. Finally, the two winning candidates will be presented with the Export Lion Award 2021 on 29 September. 

The three nominees from the ‘companies with up to 49 employees’ category 

Container Technics 

In 1983, Container Technics began supplying lashing equipment, lifting beams and other accessories for cargo securing to shipping companies and ship owners. Gradually, however, this Wijnegem-based company turned out to be a comprehensive partner in its industry. For example, the engineering department is currently involved in all kinds of projects, ranging from ship design to the development of specific tailored materials for the safe transport of special cargo. Through its widespread distributor network, Container Technics serves 2,500 customers in 60 different export countries using a central warehouse in its home base as a hub. In addition, insurance assessors, port authorities, training centers, regulators and knowledge institutions regularly turn to this niche player for its unique expertise. 

  • Site: Wijnegem 
  • Number of employees: 13.3 full-time equivalents (Belgium) 
  • Turnover (2020): €12,088,521 
  • Export share in turnover (2020): 94% 
  • Share of non-EU countries in exports: 15% 


This Ghent developer and manufacturer of compact scanners for molecular imaging was founded in 2015 as a spin-off of Ghent University. Its devices are used to visualize organs, tumors and the effects of medicines. The compactness of these devices also makes them the only type of scanners that can be used in highly secured virological lab environments, such as those involved in coronavirus research. All hardware, software and production technology are proprietary. The devices are sold in about 30 export countries through 13 distributors. To take full advantage of its growth opportunities in the US, Molecubes set up its own subsidiary in Boston’s biotech and pharma hub. In addition to current export markets, most prospects are in a number of distant destinations such as China, Japan and South Korea. 

  • Site: Ghent  
  • Number of employees: 20 full-time equivalents (Belgium) 
  • Turnover (2020): €4,969,013 
  • Export share in turnover (2020): 96% 
  • Share of non-EU countries in exports: 49% 


The Van Hulle family started a tree nursery in the mid-18th century. Since then, the company has steadily grown into a well-established name in forest and hedging plants, initially sold in Belgium, and later also internationally. Sylva grows around 25 million plants a year on 115 ha in the Ghent region, under the strictest environmental requirements. In addition, the company has 6,000 m³ of cold storage facilities and 4,500 m² dedicated to shipping. From its location, plants are shipped to 40 export countries, mainly within Europe. Despite being active in a very traditional sector, the East Flanders-based plant grower is definitely playing the innovation card. For example, Sylva developed a sorting and harvesting machine, among other equipment, and it tests mechanical weed control. In the coming years, the company will target promising non-EU markets such as Russia, Turkey, South Korea and China.  

  • Site: Lievegem 
  • Number of employees: 30.5 full-time equivalents (Belgium) 
  • Turnover (2020): €7,918,327.07 
  • Export share in turnover (2020): 80% 
  • Share of non-EU countries in exports: 13% 

The three nominees from the ‘companies with 50 or more employees’ category 

Camco Technologies 

This tech player already landed an Export Lion Award back in 2005. Camco Technologies specializes in intelligent container identification and tracking solutions. The rapid growth of container traffic definitely makes process automation indispensable to ensuring that ships and trains can be loaded and unloaded quickly and error-free in the terminal. One of the major players in its niche, Camco Technologies has already automated more than 250 terminals worldwide. From design to installation and maintenance: everything is controlled and prepared from the company’s head office in Heverlee. In a bid to strengthen its position in a number of container traffic hotspots, the company has, in recent years, opened offices in Long Beach (USA), Dubai and – at the height of the COVID-19 crisis – Shanghai. In addition, preparations are well under way to set up representation in Russia.  

  • Site: Heverlee 
  • Number of employees: 129.35 full-time equivalents (Belgium) 
  • Turnover (2020): €20,683,122 
  • Export share in turnover (2020): 47% 
  • Share of non-EU countries in exports: 47% 


Founded in 1990, Locinox has grown into the European market leader in its niche in less than three decades. This Waregem-based family business develops and produces mechanical, electromechanical and access control products (e.g. locks, hinges, hydraulic pumps, electric motors, keypads) for fencing and gate manufacturers. Two thirds of its added value comes from the product range itself, and one third from ancillary services. While these complex, high-tech components require continuous innovation, Locinox pulls out all the stops to ensure the digitization and automation of its production and support processes. Following extensive efforts in digital marketing, for example, the company already generates 30% of its turnover directly through its B2B webshop. The lion’s share of this turnover comes from exports, with Locinox mainly focusing on Belgium’s neighboring countries, as well as Poland and the US.  

  • Site: Waregem 
  • Number of employees: 83 full-time equivalents (Belgium) 
  • Turnover (2020): €38,902,346 
  • Export share in turnover (2020): 90% 
  • Share of non-EU countries in exports: 15% 

OTN Systems 

Since its inception in 2008, this former Siemens Networks business unit has successfully built up an impressive customer portfolio. A feat all the more laudable in telecom, where a handful of multinationals call the shots. With its solutions, OTN Systems successfully targets the niche of industrial telecom networks in the energy and transport sectors. The technology of the Olen-based company enables companies to migrate their outdated infrastructure and then efficiently manage their new networks. OTN Systems is present in more than 80 countries and on every continent by relying on a close-knit partner network and local support teams. All technological development and support takes place in the company’s headquarters, however. Its ambition is to face the competition from telecom giants by offering applications tailored to two industrial sectors in full transition. 

  • Site: Olen 
  • Number of employees: 96.8 full-time equivalents (Belgium) 
  • Turnover (2020): €32,168,000 
  • Export share in turnover (2020): 91% 
  • Share of non-EU countries in exports: 77% 

During the second jury round in September, these six nominees will present their competition files to a jury of prominent professionals from the academic and business domains. On 29 September 2021, Flanders’ Prime Minister Jan Jambon and FIT CEO Claire Tillekaerts will announce the winners during the award ceremony in Brussels. More info:

16 June 2021