Gov Tech Company Recruits Noveck for U.S. Expansion

 The Brussels-based citizen engagement company CitizenLab has recruited Beth Simone Noveck, currently New Jersey’s chief innovation officer, director of New York University’s Governance Lab and a veteran of the Obama Administration, as board chair while the company prepares to do more business in the U.S.

As board chair of CitizenLab — not to be confused with the Citizen Lab, a research unit within the University of Toronto focused on security and human rights — Noveck will bring decades of experience in academia and public policy, on both sides of the Atlantic, to bear on helping a European company sell tools for digital democracy to U.S. city governments.

       As director and co-founder of The Governance Lab, also known as The GovLab, Noveck oversees a research arm of NYU devoted to making government more open and effective through data and technology. Under the Obama Administration, she served as deputy chief technology officer and director of the White House Open Government Initiative, which aimed to make government more transparent, collaborative and digitally accessible to citizens. Former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron also chose Noveck in 2011 to be the country’s senior adviser for open government, and in August 2018 New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy made her the state’s first chief innovation officer.


Europe is distributing 307 million to 64 startups

The European Innovation Council (EIC) has distributed more than 307 million euros to 64 startups in the context of the new ‘Green Deal’. Winning companies are expected to deliver breakthrough solutions and technologies around transportation, space, the maritime sector, advanced materials and the internet of things.

The companies that receive support include two Belgian and two Dutch companies. Greater Than from Brussels uses big data and AI to make transport less polluting. B4Plastics from Maasmechelen conducts research into biodegradable plastics. Tusti from Eindhoven is involved in the recycling of plastic. Ranmarine Technology from Rotterdam builds autonomous drones that can remove waste from urban waters, harbor channels and deltas.

Companies have been selected from seventeen different EU Member States. More than a third of companies are led by women. That is three times more than in previous EIC programs. The EIC distributed both financial aid and participation aid, in the latter case it invested in the company’s capital. The Dutch and Belgian companies were only concerned with financial support.

The EIC is currently in a pilot phase where it has been allocated a budget of EUR 3.3 billion. From 2021, the Council will really start as part of the Horizon Europe multi-annual program. Horizon Europe is the successor to Horizon 2020.

Lufthansa, Belgium agree on aid to Brussels Airlines

The Belgian government and Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt Int’l) have reportedly agreed, after months of back-and-forth, on the terms of a EUR460 million euro (USD bailout) for Brussels Airlines (SN, Brussels National), which do not include the state taking any stake in the carrier, public broadcaster VRT has reported.

According to the terms of the agreement, the Belgian government will loan the airline EUR290 million repayable by 2026. Lufthansa, for its part, committed to recapitalise its Belgian subsidiary with EUR170 million, of which EUR70 million will be earmarked for restructuring of the airline.

In return for its contribution to the rescue, the Belgian government secured a commitment by Lufthansa to keep Brussels National as one of its hubs and develop the airport. In addition, the German parent pledged to retain the brand of Brussels Airlines and its corporate headquarters in Belgium.

The deal still requires approvals by the full Belgian cabinet and the board of Lufthansa. It has yet to be made public.

The agreement was reached just days after the Belgian Finance Minister Alexander De Croo ramped up pressure on Lufthansa by saying that the stalemate concerning state aid for the airline was entirely due to the behaviour of the German holding, which had not been constructively engaging with the Belgian government.

Solvay and Lockheed Martin to organise selection of university projects to boost Belgium’s aerospace industry

Today, Solvay and Lockheed Martin announced their collaboration on a newly-signed agreement for the selection of the most innovative projects in the aerospace sector from Belgian universities.

On July 1 and 2, Solvay and Lockheed Martin, together with seven Belgian aerospace companies (Asco, Coexpair, Feronyl, SABCA, Safran Aeroboosters, Sonaca and Thales Belgium) participated in the selection of projects for the “Innovative Growth University Challenge.” 

Supported by the Belgian government, this initiative is part of a strategy to reinforce Belgium’s defence, industrial and technological base.

More than 20 projects were presented by seven Belgian universities, recognised for their high-level expertise in advanced materials, to showcase the next generation of composite designs that will advance the aerospace industry in Belgium.

Flemish government puts extra money into Imec’s tech fund

Since 2017, this has been extended with the investment fund imec.istart Fund, which received 12.5 million euros from Flanders, Imec, ING, BNP Paribas Fortis, Cronos Group and Telenet at the start.

History shows that every euro invested by the fund is accompanied by 24 euros in capital from other investors.

That fund will now receive 14.4 million euros in additional capital, of which 1.7 million euros from the Flemish government, the rest of the other founding partners.

Modified vaccine against yellow fever also seems to work against COVID-19

[Update] A yellow fever vaccine, which is already around 80 years old, also seems to work – in a modified form – against COVID-19. Virologists from the Rega Institute at the Belgian university KU Leuven have booked good results with this modified vaccine in tests on hamsters.

Proxyclick continues to take off

 The founders of Proxyclick, a Brussels technology company that has experienced very strong growth in recent years (we speak of “scale-up”), are not about to forget the first months of 2020! In terms of thrills, they were served … At the end of January, Gregory Blondeau, Geoffroy De Cooman and Jean-Bernard van Zuylen had sanded champagne on the occasion of a fundraising of 15 million dollars. 

     Intended to accelerate the expansion of Proxyclick on the American market (where the company already generates nearly 50% of its turnover), this contribution of new money was accompanied by the installation of the CEO, Mr. Blondeau in New York in order to grow the local team and be closer to American customers. 

BelCham Update: Reimagining Atelier

We have all been through some trying times recently. The scale of this crisis, and its immediate effect on our lives and businesses have been undeniable. It reminded us that – above all – this is a journey that requires us to learn and adjust but also to take decisive actions.

After 100 years of being the driving force behind Belgian-American business, we have never been prouder and more motivated to be the voice, partner and competitive advantage for Transatlantic businesses in the US – providing the right content, contacts and support, at the right time, and adjusted to these times.

What is changing?

In response to our new reality, we are re-imagining our physical presence across the US, and are building our digital capabilities. In practice, this means…:

  • BelCham will introduce a collaborative platform and digital launchpad to meet the needs of our current and new members, focused on capability- and connection-building, allowing us to increase our reach in new and upcoming ecosystems across the US where opportunities are plentiful. Stay tuned for more soon!
  • BelCham will close its Atelier at 620 Davis Street (SF) at the end of July. Instead, our physical presence in the Bay will become a partner model of co-working operators. We will continue to offer on-demand/bespoke programming and will add virtual community building.
  • BelCham will keep its co-working space in NYC (1177 Ave of the Americas) for the year to come, while exploring new options to best bring our physical heart to life from Q3 2021 onwards.

We believe that (y)our unique ability to adapt, collaborate and innovate will be the key to success. Since the founding of Atelier New York and Atelier in the Bay, we have helped over 200 innovating companies from across Belgium enter and thrive in the US. We are very thankful to our Founding Partners and our Supporting Partners who believe in our ability to create impact and support the expansion ambitions of our members. We’re excited to build on this incredible success.

Ultimately, the quality of our continued work depends on our ability to listen to our community. We want to learn about your needs, ideas and recommendations and will be hosting an “open forum” on July 21, 12-1.30pm PDT. We thought it was fitting to celebrate our Belgian roots, while looking at our future dreams in the States. Please save the date and let us know if you would like to participate (; more details and invite to follow soon.

We appreciate the confidence our members have shown us during both the good, and some of the more demanding times. Together, we look forward to continuing this journey – with more to re-imagine, more to discover and more to accomplish.

ServiceNow to acquire Belgian configuration management startup Sweagle

With more companies moving workers home, making sure your systems are up and running has become more important than ever. ServiceNow, which includes in its product catalog an IT Help Desk component, recognizes that help desks have been bombarded during the pandemic. To help stop configuration problems before they start, the company today acquired Sweagle, a configuration management startup based in Belgium.

The companies did not share the purchase price.

ServiceNow  gets a couple of boosts in the deal. First of all, it gets the startup’s configuration management products, which it can incorporate into its own catalog, but it also gains the machine learning and DevOps knowledge of the company’s employees. (The company would not share the exact number of employees, but PitchBook pegs it at 15.)

RJ Jainendra, ServiceNow’s vice president and general manager of DevOps and IT Business Management, sees a company that has pioneered the IT configuration management automation space, and brings with it capabilities that can boost ServiceNow’s offerings. “With capabilities for configuration data management from Sweagle, we will empower DevOps teams to deliver application and infrastructure changes more rapidly while reducing risk,” Jainendra said in a statement.

New BelCham Board Members

Extraordinary times demand extraordinary leadership. To help us shape our future strategy and champion our mission, BelCham is excited to welcome these two incredible leaders to the Board:

Annastasiah Mudiwa Mhaka, PhD is an experienced lifesciences executive, investment professional, and entrepreneur with a passion for global health. Dr. Mhaka has co-founded the Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in (AAIH). In addition to her proven track record of over 50+ cross-industry deals in both the private and public sector, Dr. Mhaka has worked for a leading management consultant firm, and co-founded four companies within the drug development and nanotechnology sectors. 

Dr. Mhaka received her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from Johns Hopkins Medicine where she developed a clinical phase oncology drug and obtained her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.

Tom Vanham is CEO of LRM NV, a regional investment firm in Belgium with 250+ portfolio companies and an average annual deal flow of approx. $100M. He holds a Master degree in Law (KU Leuven) and attended Antwerp Management School, IMD and Wharton. He started his career in the insurance industry at AIG, both in Brussels as at their HQ in NYC. After that, he joined Marsh, the global broker firm, before moving to Accenture for which he managed strategic projects and assisted clients with their expansion into new European markets. 

In the last 10 years he assumed senior management roles at AXA, first in Belgium, afterwards at group level in Paris, running a business unit across Central and Eastern Europe. He then joined Generali in Belgium where he became CEO in 2017 managing app. 8 billion dollar in assets and 430 employees.