Belgium beyond Chocolate: Innovation for a Happy and Sustainable Society

Abu Dhabi, 16/01/2018: Today VITO announces the official opening of its subsidiary in the United Arab Emirates: VITO Arabia Science and Technology Consultancy LLC. After VITO Middle East and VITO Asia, this is the third regional company of VITO. It counted on the presence of HE Eng. Sultan bin Said al Mansoori, Minister of Economy, and Bart Tommelein, the Belgian Minister of Energy, along with the elite of the highest officials from both sides. 

Worldwide we have taken the road to a sustainable society. The United Nations set the global tone with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the targets set by the world towards 2030 to realise sustainable development. In the vision paper Flanders 2050, the Flemish government has made this concrete for Flanders.

VITO wants to cooperate in Flanders as well as on the global level. On the one hand, by using the VITO knowledge and experience with local partners, companies and governments, and on the other hand by opening doors for Flemish cleantech companies on foreign markets via Flanders Cleantech Association and FIT, Flanders Investment and Trade.

The opening represents a key step to complete the cooperation efforts between the Ministry and the Institute; in the past, both parties have been taken qualitative steps to study the most appropriate ways to deepen the collaboration in the fields of innovation and technology. Amongst the most relevant ones, the signing of a MOU that allows the competent authorities to establish fruitful partnerships with VITO, in order to facilitate the exchange of experiences and transfer of new technologies in prioritary sectors. That supports the national strategic trends in these fields.

The opening ceremony included the signing of a cooperation agreement between VITO and EGA (Emirates Global Aluminium). Likewise, the experts of VITO gave presentations on the most important activities our organisation is involved in and our fields of expertise.

Amongst the invitees to the ceremony, Abdallah al Saleh, Undersecretary for Foreign Trade Affairs; Jumaa Muhammad al Kait, Assistant Undersecretay for Foreign Trade Affairs; and Muhammad al Yussufi, Director of the National Program for SMEs. They participated together with Dominique Mineur, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to UAE and Dirk Fransaer, Managing Director of VITO. The event was also joined by the highest officials from both sides and representatives from the government, academia, and private sector.

HE Eng. Sultan bin Said al Mansoori said that VITO is one of the most important European centers in the fields of innovation and new technologies. Their new office will contribute in an active way to set up partnerships with the numerous parties specialised in research and technology at a governmental and academic level, as well as in the private sector. It will also contribute in a direct way to enhance the national capacities to develop an environmental incubator for innovation and scientific research. Al Mansoori continued mentioning that in the past there has been lots of positive initiatives between both parties, a series of meetings and exchanges, which led to the MOU signing and the establishment of a framework that has contributed to establish cooperation and created mutual useful partnerships between both parties.

Dirk Fransaer, managing director VITO, explains: "The Arab world, even more than elsewhere, faces the difficult task of switching from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. However, this transition process also offers very great opportunities just because the Gulf States, more than Europe, have cheap solar energy and can drive this transition from this gigantic potential."

With Walter Buydens as CEO, VITO Arabia commences with a head start, thanks to his years of experience in the Arab business world. Walter initially focuses on applications of remote sensing, circular economy, sustainable building materials, optimisation of desalination plants and smart cities.

During the official inauguration this afternoon in Abu Dhabi, Deputy Prime Minister of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister for Budget, Finance and Energy, Bart Tommelein, emphasized the role that VITO Arabia can play for the energy change. "Here too, the United Arab Emirates is working hard on a sustainable energy transition. I see a lot of opportunities to work together in an innovative way, for example in the captation and use of CO2. This is the start of an important collaboration."

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Dr. Walter J. R. Buydens
Science and Technology Consultancy LLC
UAE        +971 56 39 72127
OMAN   +968 9866 6809
Belgium +32 476 532 862