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Inspirational mission to New York and Boston: Potential of Leuven is well known across the pond

20 October 2017

Last week, thirty participants from various organisations, knowledge institutions and governments of the region joined an inspirational mission to Boston and New York. The participants met several world leading organisations in health, technology and creativity. The mission's goal was to gain inspiration from those world leaders and show the potential of the Leuven MindGate ecosystem.

"Leuven MindGate aims to position our region as the best knowledge region in health, high-tech and creativity", delegation leader Mohamed Ridouani opens while receiving the guests in our hotel in Boston in the company our the Governor of Flemish Brabant: Lodewijk De Witte. "We're happy to have several Leuven MindGate partners, such as imec, UZ Leuven, KU Leuven and ThromboGenics along with us this week."

Household names when it comes to innovation

Picture: The full Leuven MindGate delegation in front of Harvard Medical School

Boston and New York are household names when it comes to innovation. It's not by coincidence that representatives of the Leuven MindGate ecosystem successfully cooperate on a regular basis with the two cities. A program consisting of site-visits and presentations across knowledge institutions and organisations was set up by co-organisers VOKA Vlaams-Brabant and KU Leuven Research & Development.


During their stay in Boston, the delegation visited Harvard Medical School, Boston Children's Hospital, MIT and Yale. Flemish postdocs of the Department of Neurosurgery who live and work in Boston took care of the tour by showing the delegation around the Zebrafish Facility (picture above). Since the 1960s, the zebrafish (Danio rerio) has become increasingly important to scientific research. It has many characteristics that make it a valuable model for studying human genetics and disease.


At Yale, the participants met up with Professor Emile Boulpaep, KU Leuven alumnus and President of the Belgian American Education Foundation, as well as Belgian politician Annemie Turtelboom who is currently studying at Yale during a sabbatical. Afterwards, a visit to the campus followed with the library being the true eye-catcher (picture above).

Cross-pollination also vital to growth in the US

Picture: Our delegation at Times Square, New York

The first visit in New York was at BelCham, the Belgian Chamber for Commerce in the United States. Director Bieke Claes stated the importance of cross-pollination between sectors and that many ecosystems all over the US are relying on it as well. At IBM, a lecture was given about Blockchain and a visit at Flanders House and the entrepreneurial New York University (NYU) filled up the rest of the afternoon. The day ended at the residence of the Consul General of Belgium, Cathy Buggenhout, for a presentation and walking dinner.


Picture: A true 'portrait', Cathy Buggenhout addresses an attentive Leuven MindGate delegation

It was an early rise and shine the last day for a drive over to New Brunswick where Johnson & Johnson's HQ is located. Dr. Piet Hinoul - son of mission organiser Dr. Martin Hinoul - and Johnson & Johnson Vice President welcomed us, followed by talks about the company and a visit to the beautiful museum depicting the multinational's rich history.


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