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4 September, 2017 - 21:38 By Kate Sweeney

Antwerp-Cambridge trade boosted by flying visit

Investors and business leaders from Antwerp are in Cambridge this week  to foster stronger trade and academic ties with Europe’s leading innovation cluster.

Cambridge entrepreneur Professor Alan Barrell has worked long and hard to fortify the alliance between Flanders and Cambridge. One of the fruits of his labours sees the Antwerp delegation fly in and out of Cambridge from Belgium for an action-packed day of meetings on Tuesday, September 5.

The visit is scheduled to take in St John’s Innovation Centre, the Hauser Forum, Cambridge Network, the university – including the Institute for Manufacturing – and Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

The delegation is led by Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister for Employment, Economy, Innovation and Sport. He said: “Flanders has a long and fruitful tradition of innovative cooperation between universities, research institutes and the industry. Through this new cluster policy, we want to give a new impetus to this tradition, by intensifying cooperation between different innovative players in various sectors. 

“Flanders aims to do this on the basis of a true triple-helix of public authorities, knowledge institutions and companies. Every Euro the Government of Flanders invests in R & D must produce a multiplier effect in the form of additional private investment.

“After all, companies that share knowledge and work together with knowledge institutions not only spread the risk, but often also achieve better results.”

Professor Barrell said: “The Antwerp connection came through the extensive connections we have built over the years in Flanders focused on Leuven-Cambridge exchanges. 

“The Leuven cluster is impressive – IMEC is the world’s number one micro-electronic and nanotechnology centre in the world with remarkable technology and R & D capability. 

“Antwerp is another great business centre in Flanders, seeking to build its own entrepreneurial ecosystem and as part of the process seeks close collaboration with Cambridge – especially on education and university fronts and in the commercialisation of research and in business sectors specifically.

“The visit has been preceded by trips some of us have made to understand the Antwerp landscape and plan not only this visit of a large VIP delegation, but also future activities aimed at joint actions of mutual interest and potential benefit.

“Post Brexit international trading agreements will not only be achieved through government involvement but more and more by entrepreneurial people in the front line finding specific ways to work together.

“The Antwerp Chamber of Commerce, VOKA has led the charge on behalf of the business community, university and municipal government in getting this major event organised. Sixty five leaders from Antwerp flying in and out of Cambridge airport just for a day. The programme will be intensive – not a minute wasted! This is just one example of local initiatives being taken to enhance economic growth and development through cross border co-operation notwithstanding Brexit.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Professor Alan Barrell

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