Start-up mentoring imec.istart named best university-linked accelerator in the world

The imec.istart for start-ups of the research institute imec was awarded first prize in an international study by the Swedish company UBI Global for its support for starters. Business AM spoke about this with Sven De Cleyn, program director imec.

“imec has won an award for guiding startups. What exactly does that mean?”

” We do indeed guide trainees, typically going from a very early phase in which they have a prototype to the creation of a fully-fledged company that can switch internationally. And we do that by means of both a substantive guidance program and a piece of financing to help take the first steps as a fully-fledged company.”

“Do you have some examples?”

“Luckily I can name dozens of them. We have some very nice companies. One of them, for example, is Minze Health, a company active in healthcare that helps people with urological problems by helping them follow up in a home situation with all kinds of products and also a software platform behind it. They have now helped and guided more than a hundred thousand patients.”

“Another example in a completely different sector is Deliverect. That company has built a software solution to build connections between internet platforms where you can order food online from restaurants and their cash register systems. In this way, orders can be processed much more efficiently. And they now work with more than 500 people and are active worldwide.”

“What’s in it for imec?”

“First of all, we create a lot of know-how and an entire ecosystem around imec of fast-growing technology companies. A large number of them are also starting to collaborate with our research groups on a research basis. Where many new collaborations arise, which on the one hand inspire our researchers, but on the other hand also lead to joint research projects that also generate some funding.”

“In addition, there are also quite a few spin-offs that arise from imec itself. From research groups and the technology of ideas that are developed there, which we help bring to the market and from which we also benefit financially either through a kind of royalty deal with those companies, or through a shareholding that can hopefully also be sold later. Then we have a financial return from that.”

“Are there plans to grow into this even further?”

“It is of course a fantastic recognition and also a bit unexpected that we are now number one in the world. That will definitely give a boost. Spin-off creation had already become an integral part of imec’s core strategy in recent years. We’re going to roll that out a bit further. On the one hand, we will continue to focus on spin-off creation, but on the other hand we will also expand our support ourselves, including internationally. We are already active in that in three countries and, in addition to Belgium, also the Netherlands and Italy. And I do not rule out the possibility that more countries may be added in the future.”

“What does the future forever look like in the coming years?”

“For imec as a whole, I think the future looks very bright. Of course, there is a lot of global focus on plans to strengthen the chips sector. Due to the major shortages that have occurred in recent years, and imec is one of the world’s best, including in the field of research. I think there are incredible opportunities for imec to mean even more for that sector on a European and even global scale. We are also going the same way in the field of start-up support.” (kg)

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