Innovation Centre: Start-ups and the new economic revival

Tomorrow is Today

Deloitte's Belgian Innovation Centre is celebrating its first anniversary in a few weeks. The project stimulates promising Belgian companies to professionalise and expand. Today the consulting firm has more than 30 companies under its wings. “A whole new economy is being created around open innovation,” says Guido Vandervorst, one of the pioneers of the project.

“The Innovation Centre is a win-win situation: we stimulate the new generation start-ups and keep a finger on the pulse of the new innovative developments.”

Nikolaas Tahon, managing partner Accountancy at Deloitte

Innovation Centre

Deloitte launched the ‘Deloitte Innovation Centre’ in De Hoorn in Leuven on April 29th last year. The consulting firm assists young companies in the technology sector active in analytics, digital solutions, cyber security and mobility. The objectives are considerable. “We want to elevate Belgian start-ups in the technology sector to the Champions League,” says Guido Vandervorst, managing partner Innovation. “The aim is that some of them develop into global players.”

Dozens of budding companies registered for the Innovation Centre, and in the summer Deloitte made a first selection. Fifteen of them were admitted to the Academy Programme, a kind of mini-Master in Entrepreneurship. For six months the members of the programme are trained in practical subjects such as intellectual property, an efficient ‘go-to-market’ plan, and international expansion. Four start-ups were given a ticket to the Booster Programme, an intensive two year-long support programme. Booster members have an individual mentor, access to the Deloitte network, 50 days of free consulting, and support in various steps such as setting up an organisational structure, funding and internationalisation. “Meanwhile eight new start-ups have already started with an Academy Programme and we selected six extra companies for our Booster Programme,” says Vandervorst.

“There is a new revival of the economic tissue”, says Nikolaas Tahon, managing partner Accountancy at Deloitte and mentor of one of the Booster members. The leading characteristic of this revival? Young people working together to develop new products or services which respond to how technology can change the world. “A new economy which revolves around open innovation,” Vandervorst says.

Tomorrow is Today

This new economy is key in the Tomorrow is Today awareness campaign, with which Deloitte raises awareness about the exponential growth in innovations and the consequences for the economy. “We deliberately opted for a positive approach to this trend. The Innovation Centre was established on the basis of this philosophy. If we want to capitalise on the opportunities offered by technological progress, we need to be working on the future now already. And the start-ups are the new economy. They are the future,” says Vandervorst.

Start-ups are the new economy. They are the future.

Booster Programme

One of the newest members of the Booster Programme is Xpenditure, a software package that processes expenses digitally. All the user has to do is take a photo of the receipt with a smartphone.

Another is Nallian. They’ve developed a data sharing platform that enables companies to set-up private communications with their business partners and exchange structured data so that they can work more efficiently.

Ghent-based Ontoforce's DisQover is a product that allows pharmaceutical companies to link their databases and quickly retrieve any useful information that is not immediately visible to the naked eye. Smappee creates an energy reader that allows consumers to monitor and adjust the energy consumption in their house. Sensolus designed portable technology for offline analytics and Proxyclick developed software to manage company visitors: from invitation to check-out. Ugentec develops software to analyse DNA, and Teamleader created software packages for SMEs for customer management, invoicing and project planning.

“The Innovation Centre is not one-way traffic, it is a win-win situation,” underlines Tahon. “We want a strong and well developed economy. Large companies are not always the best in innovation. By working with start-ups, we are able to detect trends easily.”

De Tijd (31/3)


Het Belgische Innovation Center van Deloitte mag binnen enkele weken zijn eerste kaarsje uitblazen. Het project stimuleert beloftevolle Belgische jonge bedrijven om te professionaliseren en uit te breiden. Vandaag heeft het adviesbureau ruim 30 jonge bedrijven onder zijn vleugels. ‘Er komt een nieuwe economie op gang rond open innovatie’, zegt Guido Vandervorst, een van de voortrekkers van het project.

Published: 31 March 2015

L'Echo (31/3)


Le prestigieux Innovation Center bel-ge de Deloitte soufflera sa première bougie dans quelques semaines. Ce projet vise à encourager la professi-onnalisation et l’expansion des jeunes entreprises belges prometteuses. Au-jourd’hui, le bureau de consultance a pris sous son aile plus d’une tren-taine d’entre elles. « Une nouvelle économie se développe autour de l’innovation ouverte », révèle Guido Vandervorst, l’une des locomotives du projet.

Published: 31 March 2015
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