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When Leuven and Japan meet, innovation is in the air

29 October 2019

On Tuesday 29 October, the Belgium-Japan Association & Chamber of Commerce (BJA) came to Leuven to strengthen the ties between Leuven and Japan. More than 50 top entrepreneurs witnessed the innovative features of Leuven on four iconic locations.


Leuven MindGate and founding partners KU Leuven, imec and the city of Leuven presented the attendees an inspiring program. The BJA is dedicated to enhance and develop all commercial, financial, cultural, humanitarian and social ties between Belgium and Japan. It therefore counts on 650 Belgian, European and Japanese members.

The attendees first visited imec, and met with CEO Luc Van den hove. Van den hove confirmed the importance of Japan for imec: "Japan is a big market for us, counting for almost one fifth of our business. Every month, we welcome a Japanese delegation and since 2002, we organize an annual imec Technology Forum (ITF) in Tokyo. We therefore found it of the utmost importance to be a part of this BJA 'Visit to the future'.”


After a presentation of the Leuven ecosystem by Johan Merlevede from Leuven MindGate, the attendees visited Health House. Health House showcases the future of health and care based on scientifically validated content and the impact technology will have on this future.

In the University Halls, the entrepreneurs exchanged experiences with Luc Sels, rector of the KU Leuven. Afterwards, they met with Mayor Mohamed Ridouani in the glorious city hall.

"It's no coincidence that these Japanese and Leuven-based entrepreneurs were able to meet these top stakeholders" tells Gilbert Declerck, president of both Leuven MindGate and the BJA. "The ties between Leuven and Japan are historically strong, and this collaboration proves its effect on a daily basis. Think about the KU Leuven, who collaborates closely with some Japanese universities."


"Japan is a strong knowledge-based economy, and we can learn a lot from them", Declerck continues. "But these Japanese entrepreneurs are also impressed by what we are doing in Leuven, and the economic potential of this region. With this event, we hope to offer new collaboration opportunities between Belgium and Japan."

Rector Luc Sels is also happy with this initiative: "I will be visiting Japan very soon, because for the third year in a row we organize an innovation seminar at the Belgian embassy in Tokyo. We also work closely together with universities like Hitotsubashi, Keio, Kyoto and Waseda. We have also strong historical ties with Japan. Many institutions and universities have helped us rebuilding our university library after WWI. The BJA can help us to strengthen these bonds even further."

Mayor Mohamed Ridouani concludes: "This visit was the ideal opportunity to present Leuven-based top innovators like imec, KU Leuven and Health House. We have met very interesting people, who were interested in the story of Leuven and the Leuven MindGate ecosystem. Hopefully this will lead to new collaborations between Leuven and Japan. And that's what counts for us."

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