High Level Forum in Grenoble: where innovative ecosystems meet

20/11/2018

In mid-November, the High Level Forum in Grenoble was held to encourage and strengthen collaboration between the world’s 38 most powerful innovation ecosystems. It's rather obvious that Leuven MindGate represented our wonderful ecosystem of health/high-tech/creativity, right?

The High Level Forum was initiated in 2012 and is now managed by the Innovation Campus GIANT of Grenoble (France).

This annual event is attended by an international community of High Level Executives – Decision and Policy makers, all deeply engaged in the management or promotion of Innovation from the worlds of education, research, industry, business, and civic authorities.

Since its birth, the High Level Forum has attracted 32 campuses from around the world (Africa, America, Asia, Europe, Middle-East) which are internationally recognized as leaders in Innovation; it has now earned an increasing recognition as a truly remarkable international event devoted to Innovation.

The main objectives of the High level Forum are:

  • To share policies, strategies and experiences about innovation management and promotion between leading campuses
  • To encourage and strengthen collaboration among the world’s most powerful innovation ecosystems
  • To develop common initiatives for maximizing the social and economic benefits of the innovation programs of the participating campuses

The innovative ecosystem of Leuven was represented by Leuven MindGate, imec, KU Leuven and the City of Leuven. On the second day of the High Level Forum, Johan Merlevede, Managing Director of Leuven MindGate, presented the innovations within the Leuven region, which was well appreciated by the audience.

In the end, Veronique Charlier (City of Leuven) learned a lot from the event, pointing out that "innovation works best when it's supported by all layers of society and the ecosystem. We must not forget that, next to knowledge institutes, entrepreneurs, and creative minds civilians also have potential to play a big part in the innovation of a region."

Stefaan Saeys of KU Leuven agreed, adding that "a Leading Innovative Ecosystem, wherever it may be located, really should focus on the quality of life, providing the necessary facilities for students, researchers, and employees of the ecosystem." Dries Capelle from the City reinforced this quality of life will only be enhanced when and if opportunities are provided to come together and share ideas. "Setting up events in a particular time and place, where innovative minds come together enhance the cross-over of ideas and therefore stimulate the ecosystem as a whole. However, we cannot allow this to be a 'science park only' thing. The more innovative parties and ideas we can combine, the better."

Roger De Keersmaecker from imec learned in Grenoble that "technology infrastructure, talent acquisition, and an attractive work/life environment are indissolubly connected with each other and need to be developed in parallel. Moreover, a creative hot spot - such as Leuven aspires to be - should attract and retain companies as much as possible. These innovative companies should in turn do their part in stimulating the innovative ecosystem by creating local value."

Marc Bauwens from the Urban Development Agency of Leuven concluded: "There is no such thing as one unique model for an innovative ecosystem. My lesson learnt though is that diversity, co-creation and cross-pollination are immanent factors for these ecosystems to be able to succeed. Therefore is Leuven - helped by an organisation like Leuven MindGate - on the right path to develop an innovative and global image."