WSL: one of the best tech incubator performing in the world21/08/2019

Start me up: Wallonia’s tech incubator is one of the best performing in the world

Founded in 2000 by the Walloon government, tech incubator WSL has been ranked among the highest performing incubators in the world. A study carried out in 2017 and 2018 by the international association UBI-Global placed it in the top two according to criteria such as turnover, retention rate in Wallonia, access to investors and the variety of services offered.

WSL has a total annual turnover of €607 million and supports engineering science projects across Wallonia. It boasts a survival rate for its techno-entrepreneur companies of 95%, with an annual job creation rate of 11%. Employing 866 people directly and 2,000 indirectly, WSL is spread across the region. From its original site in Liège Science Park, it is now present in Charleroi, Gembloux, Louvain-la-Neuve, Mons and Namur. It provides technical assistance to tech companies that want to develop both in Wallonia and abroad.

Collaboration is at the heart of the incubator. Originally set up to launch university spin-offs within the space sector, its mission expanded to other partners, including institutions of higher education, the Walloon Export and Foreign Investment Agency (Awex) and the region’s various competitive clusters.

According to director-general Agnès Flémal, WSL occupies a world-renowned position, which is impressive considering the size of the region. “Over the years, we have developed a field laboratory, built on a network of start-ups that form our community. We accompany them during the long-term while maintaining our capacity to innovate,” she says.

Flémal underlines future challenges for WSL in calling for continuing and increased support of long-term projects connected to Deep Technology, in particular from their launch. Deep Technology relates to innovation based on substantial scientific advances directly or indirectly linked to major planetary and societal issues that require long-term, large investment.

By Sarah Crew

 

Photo: Agnès Flemal from WSL

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