Global Clusters of Innovation
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Global Clusters of Innovation

Entrepreneurial Engines of Economic Growth around the World

Edited by Jerome S. Engel

In the geography of the global economy, there are known ‘hot spots’ where new technologies germinate at an astounding rate and pools of capital, expertise and talent foster the development of new industries and new ways of doing business. These clusters of innovation are significant drivers of value creation and function as models for economic expansion in both developed and developing countries. This book explores the key attributes of these innovation hubs using case studies from around the world.
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Chapter 4: Belgium: building a digital Cluster of Innovation in the heart of Europe

Wim De Waele and Sven H. De Cleyn


In Belgium and in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium, a number of important historical evolutions dramatically altered the outlook of the economic environment. The traditionally small open economy, historically dominated by manufacturing industries, underwent a transformation in the course of the 20th century due to delocalization and disinvestments by large multinational corporations. Within this context, this chapter describes the response of the region of Flanders and the government intervention that created a vibrant new ecosystem for the digital economy. The aim is to unravel the effects of government intervention on the acceleration of new venture creation and local capital formation, focused in one specific industry sector (information and communication technologies, or ICT). Within this setting, this chapter analyzes the effect of iMinds, a government-funded research organization, on local entrepreneurship and innovation potential. This chapter is organized as follows: The first section focuses on framing the historical perspective in which the foundation of iMinds is embedded. The second section introduces iMinds as a network organization for the ICT sector and its general activities. Thirdly, entrepreneurship support programs and financing are highlighted, as catalysts to create a vibrant ecosystem to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in Flanders. In the fourth section, the particularly interesting case study of SDN2 is presented. This spin-off company has been the result of various collaborative research efforts supported by iMinds and subsequent participation in iMinds’ entrepreneurship support programs.

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