On 13th June, 'Flanders Technology and Innovation' officially launches the 'FTI Express' that operates between Ghent and Antwerp. On board of this innovation train: the Minister-President of the Flemish Government Jan Jambon, Flemish Minister of Innovation Jo Brouns, and no fewer than 315 Flemish CEOs and entrepreneurs. Together, they are counting down to the FTI Festival in 2024, with a view to making Flanders more beautiful, creative, better and more efficient through technology and innovation.

The FTI Express Ghent-Antwerp makes the ambitions of Flanders Technology & Innovation (FTI) concrete and symbolically takes the Flemish innovation ecosystem to the next level of innovation. The train compartments were decorated by the five cities (Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk and Leuven) hosting the 10-day FTI innovation and inspiration festival in March 2024.

Ambitious innovation platform FTI

The brand-new innovation platform Flanders Technology & Innovation aims to make Flanders the laboratory of Europe, to take a technological lead and provide innovations that benefit us all. Five top Flemish organisations structurally support FTI: FTI SuperNova, Hangar K, Leuven MindGate / and&, VITO and Wintercircus. They are the 'base' in the FTI ecosystem and mobilise within their network other CEOs, entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups to exchange views and create new insights, ideas, innovations and opportunities. Flanders Technology & Innovation and its partners focus on six areas: Data Tech, Health Tech, Entertainment Tech, Energy Tech, Mobility and Flanders Next Academy.

Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon: "Flanders is top of the world. Every time I am on a mission abroad, people talk to me about it. Imec, VIB, VITO, our universities, our world ports, what we mean in the field of chip technology, biotech, climate technology, data... We play a pioneering role and hold all the cards to cope with the future. Thanks to Flanders Technology & Innovation, the whole of Europe will see that Flanders is a proud pioneer of the fifth industrial revolution, of data technology and of artificial intelligence as a new systems technology."

Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister for Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture: "We are going to use technology and innovation to make Flanders more beautiful, more creative, better and more efficient. Always with a clear social goal in mind, such as a sustainable economy and society. FTI is a recruiting social project that wants to make the Flemish people familiar with the excellent applications that are being developed here, in order to also enthuse young people about STEM. After all, the innovative solutions of tomorrow, must come from them."

Ten-day innovation festival

From now on, the countdown is on to Friday 15 March 2024, the kick-off for Flanders Technology & Innovation at the all-new Winter Circus in Ghent. A week of events will continue during the massive innovation and inspiration festival in five Flemish cities: Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk and Leuven. 

FTI is buzzing in numerous Flemish companies, schools and universities. One of the highlights is the Open Technology & Innovation Day on 17 March 2024. This is when technology organisations can put themselves in the spotlight for the general public, applicants and technology enthusiasts.

The inspiring festival week will conclude on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 March with a closing festival in the centre of Antwerp for the general public.

FTI Festival director Dries Mahieu: "This is the first time that we can uniquely deliver a multi-day experience festival spread across several themed 'stages', being the participating cities, aimed at more than 6 million Flemish people. The moment to showcase technology & innovation in Flanders and showcase its passion and ambitions."

FTI's strategic partners are enthusiastic about the initiative:

Inge Neven, CEO VITO: "Together we have to make sure we keep going for more innovative solutions that embrace the challenges of the future. It is therefore the role of VITO, the reference research centre for sustainability, to show our citizens, politicians and companies that we can live in a different, truly sustainable way, without sacrificing comfort, and that the solutions we offer are also economically feasible. Together, we go for sustainable innovation that we develop, implement and continuously improve for every situation. Through close cooperation with all parties, we really make a difference."

Dietrich Van der Weken, General Manager G-STIC, VITO: "The circular economy, energy-positive neighbourhoods and sustainable food and water systems are crucial for the transition of cities and their surroundings. In March 2024, everyone can experience the concept of the 15-minute city that encourages sustainable mobility choices, redistributes urban space and organises cultural activities to make the city climate-neutral, more liveable and inclusive."

Jurgen Ingels, CEO FTI SuperNova: "When a tech entrepreneur looks for funding, it is important to connect with the best possible parties. With FTI SuperNova, we bring all local and leading international investors together in 1 place with tech entrepreneurs. This way, we provide 2 days of the highest quality connections while inspiring everyone with innovative ideas." 

Vincent Vanderbeck, CEO Hangar K: "We are proud to bring to Kortrijk a week full of digital, interactive experiences about the future of living, learning and working. And this thanks to the input of innovative technology from Flanders in the fields of Game Technology and Educational Technology."

Marieke Sopers, Festival Director FTI by and&: "Progress is not only determined by technology, but also by dreams and frames of mind. If we want to understand the future, we must also focus on the new ideas. FTI by and& looks into a crystal ball by bringing cutting-edge technology together with childhood dreams. We are turning Leuven into an urban lab where we explore the future."

Louis Jonckheere, CEO Winter Circus: "FTI is a unique opportunity to accelerate our thriving tech ecosystem to make a bigger impact on our planet and society. Together with our community of entrepreneurs, researchers, students and creative minds, with Wintercircus and FTI we are paving the way for Flanders to further grow into a globally recognised technology hub!"

More info on the festivals can be found via these links:

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