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Speeding up Flanders’ internationalization: FIT seals structural collaboration with 17 partner organizations

On 3 October 2017, Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) signed 17 structural collaboration agreements with business organizations, mixed chambers of commerce and clusters, during an official ceremony at the Hotel Errera in Brussels.

Not only will these partnerships give additional impetus to the internationalization of Flanders-based companies, they also aim to attract an increasing number of investments to the region. The agreements were formally signed in the presence of Claire Tillekaerts, CEO of FIT, and Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of Flanders.

17 complementary activity programs

Internationalizing a business doesn’t happen overnight. On the contrary, the entire process is filled with challenges: in addition to smooth access to up-to-date information, companies also need to find the right business contacts and define a well-thought-out strategy.

Besides FIT, companies with international ambitions can also ask for advice and support from various other organizations in Flanders. The result is a broad offering of services and information to back a company’s internationalization process.

By order of Flanders’ Minister-President, Geert Bourgeois FIT carries out a coordinating role to make sure this support offered to companies does not become fragmented: a role that is closely linked to the renewed partnerships signed by FIT and its 17 partner organizations. In the coming years, these partners will organize activities that complement FIT’s services. Moreover, working together on a larger scale only adds to the impact of these services on internationalizing firms.

Examples of possible collaborative projects include: organizing joint missions and seminars, exchanging strategic knowledge, and setting up initiatives that focus on the retention of foreign companies’ sites in Flanders.

17 partners for enhanced knowledge creation and a durable impact

FIT’s 17 privileged partners for the period 2017-2021 are: Agoria, B-Hive, Belgian-Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, DSP valley, essencia, Euka, Flanders Cleantech Association, FEVIA Vlaanderen, Fedustria, the Flemish-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, VIL, Flanders.bio, Startups.be, Voka, Unizo and VKWLimburg.


What’s new about these partnerships?

The strengthened collaboration between FIT and its 17 privileged partners is:

  • embedded in ‘Vlaanderen versnelt!’ (‘Flanders accelerates!’), the internationalization strategy of the government of Flanders – FIT coordinates the execution of this strategy;
  • the result of constructive negotiations with each partner, increasing ownership;
  • co-financed evenly by the partner organizations and FIT;
  • a structural partnership that goes beyond previous project-based collaborations;
  • valid for multiple years, specifically for the period of 2017-2021;
  • linked directly to financial support from FIT to each partner;
  • based on concrete objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) to enable the measurement and quantification of the partnerships’ impacts.

Flanders aims to support as many businesses as possible in achieving their internationalization goals. This requires mobilizing a broad variety of economic players. Together with Flanders Investment & Trade, these 17 partner organizations will join forces in the medium term to help our state-of-the-art industries and companies find their ways on the international scene.

Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of Flanders

These partnerships are extremely important, enabling FIT to build even stronger bonds with major economic players. We conducted a thorough analysis to determine which possible partners we would collaborate with more closely. We also negotiated intensely to make sure that everyone was on the same page. This happened in a positive atmosphere characterized by constructive dialogue. What’s more, both FIT and all 17 partners share a clear, common goal: to make Flanders’ economy more competitive and accelerate its internationalization. I am confident that these renewed partnerships form a solid basis for attaining that goal and for strengthening Flanders’ image, which helps companies from Flanders increase their chances in the international market. I would like to thank every partner for their commitment, and I look forward to working together.

CEO at FIT, Claire Tillekaerts

3 October 2017