Archive for the ‘Belgium’ Category

Collaborator Profile – Christian Saublens (Brussels)

April 17, 2012

Who and where are you?
I am Christian SAUBLENS, Executive Manager of Eurada, the European Association of Development Agencies, based in Brussels, seat of the European Institutions, Belgium.

What’s your job?
To advocate the European Union institutions (mainly the European Commission) to draft and implement legislations and financial programmes which are friendly to regional development agencies and by boomerang effect to all regional stakeholders. We try to pass the message that building strategies is useful, but that good implementation mechanisms are even more important. We also try to avoid any JIMA syndrome (‘Just In My Administration’).

Our main dialogue partners are the departments working on issues such as regional policy, financial and non-financial support to enterprises and entrepreneurs, R&D+I, high education, social inclusion, environment, energy, State aid controls, ICT policy. In parallel, we are facilitating exchanges of experiences between the members on various issues related to the management of public intermediary organizations and to the design of new ways to provide support services to enterprises.

Over the years, we have been able to put on the agenda of the EU Commission and members issues such as business angels, investment readiness, crowdfunding, financial engineering, benchmarking, business retention, regional innovation strategy, clusters, vouchers, technology showcase, regional intelligence, impact assessment tools.

What’s exciting you at present?
The preparation of the next EU programming period i.e. 2014-2020, requires a lot of energy because a great number of regulations in the field of economic development have to be adapted before mid-2013. Pinpointing current barriers and identifying potential new ones is critical at this stage of the European legislative moment.

Moreover, the financial crisis will oblige all regions to do more or better with less budget. This means to develop new skills to detect the real assets of a region and to build a new set of unique competitive advantages in the global economy. At the same time, regional stakeholders will face an increased demand for regional wellness and responses to societal challenges. They will have to invent “proximology” support services i.e. create a regional societally-responsible economy offering citizens alternative choices to those offered by the current charity/donation economy or the pure financial market one.

What are your top 3 tips on how to collaborate?
1. To listen to the partners’ needs.
2. To share knowledge for a mutual benefit.
3. To exchange views on new ideas and concepts.

What collaborative projects would interest Eurada?
Any projects helping enhance capacity building in the field of regional development.

Contact details:
Email: Tel. +32 2 218 43 13

Successful clusters – advice from Belgium via Finland

November 22, 2009

 As previously flagged in this newsletter, some clusters are humming and others are on life support. Elisabeth Rocha (Belgium), a long-time supporter of TCI (see above), provided timely advice at TCI Finland:

“The secret of a successful cluster is to remain open for changes. Second important thing is good teamwork. The energy shouldn´t be wasted in tangling with the problems inside the company or cluster.

The success lies in being open to outsiders. A good cluster achieves a balance – all people in the region should be benefiting from it, not just the one sector involved in the cluster.

A successful cluster spreads its growth to other sectors. Too often forgotten is the importance of looking far ahead to the future. Many times we focus only on the present, which is a mistake. A cluster turns out bad if there is some company which is thinking only itself and doesn’t add any benefit to others. Usually that kind of company is involved only because of the public funding.”

(Thanks to TCI)

EDEN = European Destinations of Excellence (BEST PRACTICE)

October 17, 2008


EC Vice-President Verheugen (Commissioner for Enterprise & Industry) has awarded 20 localities with the title of “best local intangible heritage destination in Europe”. The European Destinations of Excellence awards promote venues where commercial success goes hand in hand with social, cultural and environmental sustainability.

Specific local intangible heritage such as local cuisine, handicrafts, local arts or village life were rewarded. The winners were invited to participate in the European Day of Tourism (7th October in Brussels) and to sign a declaration setting up the Network of EDEN destinations. The 2008 EDEN awards were held in Bordeaux as part of the European Tourism Forum. It included an informal ministerial meeting of EU tourism ministers. The EC says that the improvement of the quality of tourism destinations and services requires coherent action from private and public sectors.

Five examples:

Austria: Steirisches Vulkanland – rich in volcanic formations, thermal water resources, historic sacral & architectural monuments, folk art, and traditions in a characteristic culture of festivals and celebrations.

Belgium: Ath – famous for the Ducasse, a procession of giants, a parade of characters that have been gathering for over 500 years and draws visitors into a charming medieval festival.

Bulgaria: Belogradchik – myths, legends, even traces of ancient Thrace are waiting to be discovered by visitors to this ‘small white town’, situated in the foothills of the Balkans.

Croatia: Đurđevac – orchards, meadows and vineyards. The town’s historical, cultural and traditional heritage is based on the Legend of the Rooster.

Cyprus: Agros – ideal year-round rural destination that has developed its famous rosewater industry and offers unique opportunities to participate in celebrations of local cultural heritage and nature’s beauty.  

Investment incentives in Europe – an update

May 13, 2008


Belgium’s 40% investment subsidies!

SPL INFO has brought some interesting mapping activity to our attention. It maps companies, business and science parks and clusters – all supported by the Directorate General for Economy and Employment of the Walloon Region. The database is also now online – gives information about facilities, geographical location and business parks in Wallonia.

BUT of most significance is the information on investment incentives available on the website – it makes us non-Europeans weep! The European and regional financial incentives are up to 21% of the investment (large companies) and 18% (SMEs). Depending on the location (e.g. tax incentive zone or redevelopment area), a regional support measure supplemented by a European support measure can cover up to 30% to 40% of the investment – this can also be increased by an employment grant.

And EC subsidises 30% of Poland’s investment projects…


And to rub more salt into the wound, according to a study by the Wroclaw Agency of Regional Development in Poland, EC subsidies are helping to increase the country’s GDP. Polish entrepreneurs have started 14,500 subsidised projects worth 4.7 billion euros since 2004. Investment in new projects will peak in 2013, when European subsidies will help to implement almost 30% more projects. Chief economist for BZ WBK said: “Even if the world slows down, Poland will have a relatively high investment level. As long as companies can count on EU subsidies, investments will be profitable.”