VITO is expanding its Chinese commercial activities. Mao Debin is a central figure. He coordinates all of VITO’s projects in China.

How did you end up at VITO?

While working on my PhD at the University of Antwerp, I performed research in the analytical department of VITO. I had already performed some studies in VITO’s labs while earning my Master’s degree in Sweden. Even before my thesis defence, I travelled to China along with our managing director Dirk Fransaer. That was back in 2009, when VITO started to explore the Chinese market from a more commercial angle. After obtaining my doctorate, I first combined research and business work at VITO, but after a few months I took on a dedicated business development function.

I have seen VITO grow in China on a commercial level

Tell us some more about your role?

I have a scientific background, but at VITO, my role is more business- oriented, especially since the foundation of our subsidiary, VITO Asia. I am responsible for the Chinese market and all of VITO’s projects in China. Therefore, I am up-to-date on every project in every domain: air quality, materials, energy, remote sensing ... I establish contacts, launch projects and continue monitoring them. I also function as a facilitator: I try to minimise linguistic and cultural barriers. It is a very challenging role.

How do you see your future at VITO?

I have been living in Belgium for almost 10 years and I have been working at VITO since 2009. I got married here and my two sons attend school in Mol, so for now we are staying in Belgium. Working at VITO is very different from working at a university or company.

VITO combines both worlds: we are very socially-oriented, but adding commercial value is an equally important objective.

VITO offers a lot of flexibility. I work with various units and groups across very differentdomains. Not only do I have to understand the market needs, I also need to have a good understanding of VITO’s know-how and technologies. By combining the knowledge, I can decide which projects we will be developing in China at which specific time based on the market needs and the technology readiness level of the technologies themselves. I have seen VITO growing and expanding its business scope in China. A few years ago, we mainly worked on projects for the European Union, but now we are working more and more on commercial projects. I am proud to help VITO get established further in China.

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