In the new building, the latest Industry 4.0 technologies and production workflows will be tested starting next fall. Companies will discover there how they can invest optimally in their own production environment for the future in an approachable way. Companies from all sectors of industry can find inspiration there for the necessary digitalization of their production processes. This is important for sustainable production, for workable work for employees and for prosperity in.
Manufacturing companies can no longer avoid it: their customers increasingly expect customized products, delivered quickly and preferably without additional costs. Whoever manages to respond to this, is immediately a solid step ahead of the competition. Flanders Make helps companies make the necessary switch to smart, digital factories for the future, in which employees continue to play a key role. Thanks to new technologies, work is becoming more exciting and also easier for a lot of employees.
"With this co-creation center in Kortrijk, Flanders Make once again reinforces its leading role in the transformation to a competitive, innovation-driven and sustainable industry in Flanders. Companies developing production systems, machines, subsystems or process software are given the opportunity here to test out the latest production technologies and manufacturing processes in real conditions. In this way, they can continue to make future-oriented investments in highly competitive factories in their own region. This places Flanders among the top regions in Europe in terms of Industry 4.0 research infrastructure," says Urbain Vandeurzen, Chairman of the Board of Flanders Make.
Companies can already go to the current Flanders Make site in Kortrijk for advice and testing for their industry 4.0 production. The existing testing infrastructure will be transferred to the new facility next year.
Flemish Minister of Economy and Innovation Hilde Crevits: "The arrival of this brand new center for Flanders Make in Kortrijk has great significance. The new establishment will be a showpiece. Together with many partners, our companies are taking the lead in innovation, research and development and sustainability. Meanwhile, the corona crisis is causing important choices and innovations. Half of the West Flanders companies have recently chosen to make new products and a third sought new markets. Flanders Make is ready to assist more than 11,000 companies and hundreds of thousands of employees in the renewal processes. Today I can also announce that we are providing 11 million euros of additional support to Flanders Make. The funds are intended for a new project to further strengthen digitization and automation in our manufacturing companies."
With those 11 million extra resources, 6 industrial innovation leaders (Van de Wiele, Picanol, Atlas Copco, CNH, Crops, Sabca together with a consortium of technology developers and suppliers from Flanders and Europe) can further renew and make our manufacturing industry more sustainable. The business world itself is also making a contribution of 53 million euros.
This investment will boost the digitalization of Flemish and European industry. This will lead to an increase in the competitiveness of our manufacturing companies from very diverse sectors (mechanical engineering, agro-food, automotive, pharmaceutical, chemicals, electronic components, etc.). Equally important, the often small technology suppliers who are closely involved in the development of a number of pilot lines will also be able to further develop their technology and competence so that they too can strengthen their market position. In addition to increasing the competitiveness of our manufacturing industry, this project will also contribute greatly to the European Green Deal. Finally, the project aims at strengthening the digital human talent and establishing a digital culture in companies.
The resilience of businesses in Flanders during the corona crisis was high. While turnover fell by a fifth, employment fell by only 2 percent. Half of the companies opted for new business models. Very many companies quickly shifted to new customers and markets and adjustments to the work organization. Three quarters of companies say they are paying more attention to digitizing products and speeding up processes. Half of the companies say they are also maintaining their investment rhythm and budget during the covid year. There is attention to new technologies and attention to further and retraining. Flanders Make is ready as a partner to guide the necessary conversions and innovations.
Work has now started on the Graaf Karel de Goedelaan site in Kortrijk, with the first companies already being welcomed in the fall of 2022. The new and timeless building was designed together with the renowned architectural firm Jaspers-Eyers and Modulo and looks particularly open and fresh. Witnesses to this are certainly large windows and the terraces that give an incredible sense of space. Furthermore, there will also be room underground for 100 bicycle and 70 car parking spaces.
ION and Stadsbader are also banking very hard on sustainable techniques for this project. For example, there will be a heat pump in combination with geothermal energy, LED lighting, solar panels, high-efficiency glass, climate ceilings, as well as rainwater recovery and charging stations for electric cars. These sustainable interventions ensure that a BEN (Nearly Energy Neutral) building can be realized.
The new site in Kortrijk will be ready in September next year. Flanders Make owns the land and will lease the building for 27 years via a long lease formula from the project company Stadion (Stadsbader and ION) that is in charge of construction. With a size of 6000 m², this will immediately become the largest co-creation center of Flanders Make, which also has branches in Leuven, Lommel and Sint-Truiden and core labs at all Flemish universities.