When you think about Ghent, Belgium, do you think about its historic city centre, with the Castle of the Counts and its intricate network of canals and waterways? Sure, but do you also think about how it’s poised to become the European technology capital?
Mixing excellent infrastructure, talented individuals working on the modern miracles of tomorrow, and fostering regular collaboration between research organizations and business solutions, one can witness the captivating and vibrant energy of this city. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and that’s also true for Ghent’s vibrant healthtech cluster.
With seamless cooperation between life sciences, medtech, and digitech, it attracts investments and offers comprehensive support structures. In this article, we examine Ghent’s captivating healthtech cluster to learn why it should also be on your radar.
A healthy ecosystem
The convergence of academic institutions, research centres, and healthcare facilities in Ghent has nurtured a flourishing ecosystem, with ground-breaking technologies and solutions.
One of the central actors is VIB, the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology. Anchored at Tech Lane Ghent Science Park, it is a facility where multidisciplinary life sciences research is conducted. Their dedicated team of researchers explores molecular mechanisms across various organisms, aiming for tangible societal impact through their technology transfer approach. One focus area is the use of llama antibodies, with potential applications in cancer, inflammatory diseases, and viral infections. To enhance their research capacities, VIB and Ghent University have opened a new research building. Accommodating 200 researchers and a state-of-the-art BioSafety Level 3 facility, it offers a space for experimental research on airborne pathogens.
This brings us to another key contributor to this ecosystem: Ghent University, renowned for its focus on health and medical sciences. This educational powerhouse serves as a magnet for the world’s most promising talents in medicine and related fields. Its diverse departments focus on addressing the challenges of diagnosing rare diseases, understanding mechanisms, and developing therapies. They also educate future researchers and professionals and are involved in advisory and decision boards, which helps guide patient-centred research and education.
Situated in the southern region of Ghent, UZ Ghent serves as the city’s university hospital and is a central component of the health ecosystem. With a strong track record, the hospital conducts over 1,900 clinical experiments and 900 clinical studies annually. UZ Ghent acknowledges the importance of translating research into practical applications and is expanding its clinical GMP unit for cell and gene therapy with lentiviral vector production capabilities, enabling faster development of innovative treatments like CAR-T for cancer and infectious diseases.
Playing a pivotal role in the region, Flanders.bio serves as a vibrant life sciences cluster organisation, fostering collaboration and networking within the healthtech sector. Its aim is to bolster the Flemish region’s standing in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare through diverse activities and initiatives. Flanders.bio facilitates internationalisation, provides essential services, and builds expertise, ultimately nurturing a robust health ecosystem in Ghent and beyond.