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.

Cartamundi and Flanders House Donate 5,000 masks to New York City

Belgium’s largest producers of card and board games Cartamundi and Flanders House New York, an institution that represents Flemish interests in the American metropolis have given 5,000 protective masks to the city authorities in the Big Apple.

The masks are destined for amongst others people that work in hospitals and as carers in the city that has been particularly badly impacted by COVID-19. The decision to donate the masks was taken as a spontaneous gesture of goodwill on the part of Flanders House and Cartamundi that now also produces protective masks.

Janssen Pharmaceutica to Test Candidate Corona Vaccine on Humans in July

Janssen Pharmaceutica’s parent, Johnson & Johnson is bringing forward the tests because preclinical lab tests were so promising.  1,045 adults aged between 18 and 55 as well as some seniors will test the recombination vaccine Ad26.COV2-6.  The vaccine is produced using a special DNA recombination technique.  Scientists build several of the virus’s genes in a guest cell.  

The genes possess the code of proteins that stimulate your resistance.  The guest cells then produce and purify the proteins.  The proteins then form the basis for the recombination vaccine that should build up resistance in your body.

The test will involve some volunteers receiving the vaccine and others getting a placebo.  Neither the researchers nor the volunteers will initially know who gets what. The test will probe safety, the vaccine’s ability to trigger a reaction and the response of the immune system.

Together with partners Johnson & Johnson is investing in technology and capacity to produce the vaccine on a large scale. It plans to supply a billion vaccines next year.

LRM Launches Digital Tool to Support Start-ups in Their Growth Process

LRM and the Limburg incubator network have called on the expertise of imec, the Leuven research institute, of which imec.istart will again be one of the top five accelerators worldwide linked to a university, according to UBI Global at the end of 2019. With the help of Innovatrix, a tool developed by imec, they want to offer start-ups even more support in their growth process. Start-ups that are guided in this way can also count on support from substantive partners SD Worx, KBC, Start it @KBC, Van Havermaet and Gevers to accelerate their growth process. The development of the tool was made possible with the support of POM Limburg.

Companies that settle in an incubator expect support and coaching. Innovatrix must further professionalise the existing range of coaching and advice. On the basis of the digital tool, growth companies are monitored, objectives are set and processes are evaluated. The test phase is over and the rollout has started. Imec, the developer of Innovatrix, continuously evaluates and makes adjustments where necessary.

Unifly was Shortlisted in the Top 50 Startups selected by European Startup Prize!

Out of 550 candidates, the jury selected the top 50 most promising start-ups. This list gives an overview of the future of mobility, bringing together Europe’s best startups; those who hold the promise for new, green, connected, inclusive and sustainable technology. They come from all mobility sectors and are about to revolutionise transport as we know it!

EUSP is the first European public-private award for sustainable mobility startups. The European Parliament has joint major companies in order identify, promote, and accelerate the most promising European startups in the field of clean mobility. The aim is to help such promising technologies cross European borders and scale across the continent.

Congratulations to Unifly!!

Brussels Airlines Will Fly to 59 Destinations This Summer

Brussels Airlines will offer an adapted and reduced programme for this summer, the company announced on Monday.

Between 15 June and 31 August, the airline said it would gradually add destinations to eventually reach 59 destinations in 33 countries in Europe, Africa and the United States, corresponding to around 30% of what was scheduled for the summer for Europe and 40% of intercontinental routes.

In Europe, 45 destinations will be served in 20 countries including Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, France and Denmark. The airline will operate 13 destinations in Africa (subject to approval by local authorities), and will fly to New York City’s JFK airport.

Deliverect raises €16.25 million to expand its food delivery software globally

Deliverect, a Belgian startup streamlining the restaurant industry with its online food delivery management software, announced that it has raised €16.25 million in a Series B funding round, led by OMERS Ventures, alongside existing investors Newion, Smartfin and the company’s founders.