The first edition of FTI Hasselt has come to an end, and what an incredible week it was. Families, entrepreneurs, policymakers, researchers, and students came together for six days to experience and co-create the City of the Future at more than 25 locations in and around Hasselt and Genk. FTI Hasselt was the perfect moment to discover technology and innovation up close and personal.

From sustainable fashion to cooking demonstrations and workshops, from a cycling skills course with none other than Sven Nys, to creating a food forest, to location visits, inspiring talks, interactive sessions, and keynote speeches for entrepreneurs and policymakers... During FTI Hasselt, everyone had the opportunity to explore the City of the Future.

Numerous initiatives focused on sustainability in a city that breathes transition and has it in its DNA, underpinned the festival. Circularity was at the forefront, with innovative solutions for fashion, reuse, recycling, and minimising waste streams. Mobility was seen as an integral part of a sustainable society, with a focus on electric vehicles, shared mobility, and smart transport solutions. Sustainable food also received attention, with a focus on innovative, local, and seasonal food sources. Additionally, the focus was on sustainable energy generation and use, with innovations in solar and wind energy, energy storage, and efficient energy use. Urban culture brought color and creativity to the event, with music and entertainment. Because sustainability is also about enriching community life.

Future Lane

The beating heart of the city festival was the "Future Lane" on Elfde Linie, which was transformed into a car-free boulevard of the future, with various interactive stands and installations. This location will soon become effectively car-free and serve as a green educational campus, where the next generation of innovators, thinkers, and leaders can develop.

During FTI Hasselt, you could test your traffic skills with virtual driving simulators on the Future Lane and discover how drones make school environments safer. You had the opportunity to virtually visit the high-tech Ecotron, which measures the impact of climate change on biodiversity, and to discover up close a flying taxi, solar car, or drones. Thanks to VITO, you could learn about water gain and smart solutions for making industrial estates more sustainable in the experience container. You could also get tested for fitness and discover everything about the sharing economy in the city.

Every evening ended with a strong lineup of local and emerging artists, with the highlight being the performance of Portland (solo) on Wednesday evening, where singer Jente Pironet returned to the place where it all began for him as a PXL alumnus.

The new young trees, the planted food forest, and the on-site created graffiti artworks that adorned the Future Lane were donated to the City of Hasselt, who will give them a permanent place in the cityscape in the coming months.

Lasting Impact

The pursuit of a lasting sustainable impact was central during FTI Hasselt. With more than 12,000 visitors to Elfde Linie during opening hours and 6,500 participants in all substantive activities, the city festival effectively became a celebration of innovation, technology, and community. A boost for existing initiatives, and a catalyst for the future, including the signing of the Circular Cities Declaration, the launch of the Circufix app, a new CO2 neutral bench made of sustainable concrete, the boost for the restart of Bootstraat, or the launch of expert groups on sustainable energy, to name but a few.

This was only possible thanks to the initiative of FTI Flanders and the commitment of all participants, partners, speakers, and staff who contributed to the success of this city festival. Special thanks go to EnergyVille, Flux50, ILVO, MASJIEN, Love Tomorrow, Hogeschool PXL, UHasselt, UC Leuven-Limburg, and Flanders’ FOOD. Last but not least, we also want to thank the City of Hasselt, the City of Genk, and the Province of Limburg for their support and cooperation. And a big 'thank you' to the Hasselt-based event agency Cocomo for everything they have achieved.

It was a week to remember, a week that made us dream of a future that is closer than we sometimes think, a future made by technology, innovation, and real people.

FTI Hasselt was part of Flanders Technology & Innovation, an initiative of the Flemish Government, and was organised by G-STIC and VITO.