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Flanders’ ecosystem for medical technology
Universities and academic hospitals
Flanders not only has 5 universities with internationally-renowned life sciences departments and research teams; the region is also home to 4 academic hospitals for research collaboration:
- UGent and UZ Gent;
- VUB and UZ Brussels;
- UAntwerpen and UZA;
- KU Leuven and UZ Leuven;
IBiTech (Ghent) – Established by Ghent University in 1995, the Institute of Biomedical Technology (IBiTech) provides high-quality education, basic and applied research, and training and consultancy in all aspects of biomedical engineering and medical device technology. The institute offers, among other assets:
- a large-animal research facility;
- a small-animal physiology core laboratory;
- patient-specific hydraulic bench scale models;
- ex-vivo and in-vitro testing facilities;
- clinical research programs;
- a specific research and design team for resolving medical device issues.
- Health Sciences Campus Gasthuisberg (Leuven) – KU Leuven and UZ Leuven work closely at the Health Sciences Campus Gasthuisberg, which brings together a university hospital, biomedical education and biomedical research.
- NERF (Leuven) – Located at the imec campus in Leuven, the Neuro-Electronics Research Center Flanders (NERF) aims to gain new neurological insights, and is driven by the development of novel technologies that integrate neurobiology and nano-scale engineering. One of its goals is to develop electronic, chemical and optical tools that can monitor and manipulate brain circuits.
- IMO (Hasselt) – Established by Hasselt University, the Institute for Materials Research (IMO) is a leader in the field of materials science, and collaborates intensively with IMOMEC, the Institute for Materials Research in MicroElectronics. Some of its focus areas are biosensing devices for the characterization of DNA fragments and blood cells, the detection of cardio-vascular disease markers and small pharma molecules, and functionalized micro- and nanoparticles.
- BIOMED (Hasselt) – This multidisciplinary innovation and education institute, associated with Hasselt University, carries out both fundamental and applied scientific research in a stimulating, academic environment dedicated to life sciences.
- VIB – Flanders’ research institute for biotechnology.
- VITO – Institute for technological research in cleantech and sustainable development. It focuses, among other things, on independent research and infrastructure – from lab testing to scaling up – for chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech processes.
- Imec – As a leading research institute for nanotechnology and digital technology, imec aims to enable personalized healthcare through the convergence of (nano)electronics and medical technologies. It also focuses on using quality health data in chronic disease management as well as preventive health and healthy lifestyle applications.
- Leuven Medical Technology Center – With a staff of more than 800 research and clinicians, the Leuven Medical Technology Center focuses on domains such as medical imaging, robotics and automation in healthcare, controlled release, biomaterials and tissue regeneration, and biomonitoring and control.
- DSP Valley – Headquartered in Leuven, DSP Valley is a European cluster of excellence in smart electronic and smart health systems.
- MedTech Flanders – The network for medical device development in Flanders.
- FlandersBio – Dedicated networking organization for the life sciences industry in Flanders.
- Nano4Health – An open learning and interactive environment to support the emerging industry of personalized healthcare applications at the crossroads of nano- and biotechnology.
- UNAMEC – Federation of the medical technology industry in Belgium, and Flanders as a region.
At Flanders’ science parks, you can find state-of-the-art bio-incubators and accelerators at various locations:
- BIOSCAPE (Ghent) – This life sciences incubator is designed to help companies grow within a modular, customizable lab environment. Easily accessible, it offers services such as a conference and learning center, a business lounge, front desk service, etc.
- Bio-accelerator (Ghent) – Part of the Flanders bio-tech valley, this business accelerator provides state-of-the-art laboratories, offices, meetings rooms, etc.
- VIB bio-incubator (Ghent) – This facility consists of one incubator room, one cold room, and six to seven air-conditioned laboratories that conform to bio-safety class 2 activities (easily upgradable to class 3).
- KU Leuven Bio-incubator (Leuven) – Leuven-based counterpart of the VIB bio-incubator in Ghent.
- Incubator Darwin (Antwerp) – Associated with the University of Antwerp, this incubator center offers laboratories and office space at Science Park Antwerp.
- BioVille (Hasselt) – Located near the Hasselt University campus in Diepenbeek, this bioincubator targets the specific needs of (young) organizations active in the health and care industries.
- VIB Core Facilities – At different locations in Flanders, the VIB life sciences institute offers dedicated services and facilities. These include gene sequencing and genotyping, proteomics analysis and protein production, and purification.
- BlueHealth Innovation Center – Located at StartupVillage in Antwerp and supported by Microsoft, the BlueHealth Innovation Center was created through the fusion of MIC Vlaanderen and BlueHealth Antwerp. Its goal is to drive digitization in healthcare and guide health-tech start-ups when it comes to coaching, financing, internationalization and more. To that aim, the innovation center has government agencies, healthcare providers as well as knowledge and industry players among its members.
Supporting an emerging industry
Providing strong support to the emerging industry of medical technology, Flanders is home to numerous start-ups and established companies active in biotechnology and micro- and nanotechnology, or operating at the intersection of both domains.
Some of these companies are contributing to major breakthroughs in, among other things:
- advanced microscopy;
- medical imaging;
- biochips (for advanced diagnostics);
- active implants (pumps, drug delivery systems, neurostimulators).
- Easics – Offers system-on-chip design services for various electronics applications.
- OnSemi – Enables developers of medical technology to solve their unique design challenges with high performance silicon solutions.
- Xenics – Develops high-end SWIR, MWIR and LWIR infrared cameras, infrared cores and infrared detectors. Focuses on research and development applications such as spectroscopy and microscopy.
- CMOSIS – Supplies advanced off-the-shelf CMOS image sensors.
- Cochlear – Global biotechnology company that develops implantable hearing solutions for people affected by deafness or hearing loss.
- eSaturnus – KU Leuven spin-off company that develops digital innovations to improve the quality of healthcare.
- Medtronic – Medical technology leader that specializes in chronic pain treatment by developing neuromodulation technology and products.
- Biocartis – Develops molecular diagnostics solutions and aims to provide universal and direct access to personalized medicine.
- Johnson & Johnson – World-leading manufacturer of pharmaceutical, diagnostic, therapeutic, surgical, and biotechnology products.
- Icsense – Leuven-based specialist in analog IC design for the medical, automotive, aerospace, industrial and consumer markets.
- AnSem – A leading fabless analog ASIC Design Services company.
- PharmaFluidics - VUB spin-off company and game-changing innovator in the field of analytical chromatography.
- NXP Semiconductors – A leader in secure connectivity and infrastructure solutions for a smarter world.
- Peira – Helps life sciences organizations apply their technological innovations and designs, builds and maintains science platforms, research tools and medical devices.
- Trinean – A spin-off of Ghent University and the Leuven-based imec center, this instrumentation company aims to take micro-volume molecular spectroscopy to new heights.
- Pepric – Develops instrumentation for cellular and molecular detection and quantification.
- Ovizio – Develops advanced quantitative imaging systems for the life sciences and health industries.
- Agfa Healthcare – Present in 1 out of 2 hospitals worldwide, this Flanders-based multinational is a leading provider of e-health and digital imaging solutions.
- Barco Healthcare – Headquartered in Kortrijk, this global audiovisual leader provides an integrated approach to patient care. How? By boosting clinical performance through a connected network of display systems at hospitals.
- Icometrix – Leuven-based imaging expert that offers reliable brain MRI biomarkers for the monitoring of multiple sclerosis.