Water is a constant in all domains in our society. Without water, the quality of life declines, the economy comes to a standstill, and food sources literally dry up. Hilde Crevits, the Flemish Minister of Economy, Agriculture and Innovation, has commissioned VITO to develop the WaterClimateHub in the new Ostend Science Park. The WaterClimateHub combines physical and digital technological innovations that span the domains of water, energy and climate. The hub will help further develop and strengthen existing ideas and is intended to provide a boost to innovation.

The drought of recent years has confronted us with the fact that we need to shift up a gear if we are to enable our economy to cope with water shortages. The Flanders Knowledge Centre Water (Vlakwa), the driving force behind the creation of a Flemish research and innovation agenda for water, indicates that economic growth is no longer determined by higher production, but by effective synergies.

The task of the WaterClimateHub is therefore to develop open innovation networks. The hub does this together with universities, and actors from the region and Flanders, and the activities have been grafted onto the Flemish research and innovation agenda. In this way, research into sustainable water management will be strengthened and innovation will be able to provide answers to the water and climate challenges of today and tomorrow, not only for companies but also for the agricultural sector, citizens and governments.

Three strategies for maximum impact

  • Stronger together: pooling information and expertise of partners, including from the various VITO fields. As such, existing knowledge can be used more quickly and more effectively to tackle the water challenges on a broader scale.
  • The user is central in the domain of water. Digital technologies can help to give companies greater water security and therefore more autonomy. Access to data creates knowledge and therefore ensures control.
  • The WaterClimateHub is open to both small and large companies and organizations to enable them to test and validate their new technologies, concepts, and business models. They will be supported in this by scientific and technical experts.


The WaterClimateHub relies on the development of innovation networks both within Flanders and internationally. By building on synergies and acquiring innovation projects, the WaterClimateHub can grow into a centre that will provide over 50 high-value jobs in research and development.

Minister Crevits and the Flemish Government are giving VITO the opportunity to set up an open innovation structure in Ostend that is intended to fit in with the spearheads that the province itself is pursuing, specifically water, cleantech, energy, and climate. The intention is that the synergy that exists in West Flanders will soon lead to an important, leading water knowledge centre for the whole of Flanders.

Dirk Fransaer

If Flanders wants to have sufficient water available at the right time and at an acceptable price in the future, we need to take additional measures now. Even with the many rainy days in recent weeks, the groundwater level remains a concern. With the WaterClimateHub, we are boosting research into sustainable water management in order to bring innovations into practice more quickly, for example with regard to reuse of water and reducing waste. It's important that we do this in the fight against drought.

Hilde Crevits
Flemish Minister of Economy, Agriculture and Innovation

Would you like more information or would you like to participate in this innovation network? Send an email to vito@vito.be or contact our press officer Désirée De Poot (0475/45.70.10).

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