On Wednesday 23 September 2020, Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) organized the Export Lion Awards for the 19th year in a row. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition of this prestigious ceremony was a hybrid event, presented from the Opera of Ghent (Flanders) with digital streaming allowing the public to follow the award show online. It was sponsored by BNP Paribas Fortis, Credendo, DHL Express, North Sea Port, the Province of East-Flanders and the City of Ghent.
In the category ‘Companies with up to 49 employees’, image sensor developer Caeleste from Mechelen emerged victorious over home automation company Basalte from Merelbeke and organo-mineral fertilizers producer Fertikal from Beveren. Caeleste’s specialized image sensors are used in a range of medical imaging technologies, aerospace and industrial applications. Established back in 2006, the company first served space industry players in Europe before expanding rapidly into export markets such as China, Japan, Russia and the US.
Caeleste not only puts Flanders on the international map when it comes to technology and innovation; the company also employs in-depth know-how and develops novel technologies and materials to build a name for itself as a small yet strong player in the international business arena. These were all deciding factors for the jury to present Caeleste with the Export Lion Award in this category.
In the category ‘Companies with 50 or more employees’, machine manufacturer FAM (Kontich) won from software developer Lansweeper (Dendermonde) and artificial turf innovator Sports & Leisure Group (Sint-Niklaas). In its early days, FAM mainly made harvesting and filling machines as well as slicers for potatoes, vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese and other food products. Thanks to the increasing popularity of comfort foods (such as frozen products, pre-cut fresh vegetables and ready-made meals), the sale of its slicers in particular grew year after year. Today, FAM’s 6,000+ types of slicers are used by industrial food processors on all continents.
FAM’s diversified export strategy, innovative spirit and strong local anchoring for its R&D activities were just three of the reasons why the jury decided to present the Export Lion Award to the machine manufacturer in this category.