Ghent, in the Flemish region of Belgium, is hoping to strengthen its position in the internationally competitive information and communication technology (ICT) sector with the construction of a 26,000-square-metre, state-of-the-art R&D ICT cluster in Ghent Technology Park, a Ghent University science park in Zwijnaarde.

The new cluster is being designed to stimulate academia, companies and entrepreneurs. The intent is for the cluster to cross-fertilise with other clusters at the park, specifically materials and biotech, to enable future technologies. “With this new cluster, Ghent University confirms its commitment to link sciences to society,” said Luc Moens, deputy vice-chancellor, Ghent University.

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Ghent University is investing in the ICT project along with MG Real Estate and industrial construction company Globalindus. The project, which represents a €50m-plus investment, will consist of two 13-storey office blocks. The first of which will be home to 500 Ghent University researchers and iMinds, Flanders’ leading digital research and incubation centre. It will include IT research labs, testing facilities, anechoic chambers, electromagnetic labs, clean rooms and a data centre.

“By locating one of our start-up incubators in the ICT tower, we testify to our belief that many fast-growing technologies will result from these efforts,” said Wim De Waele, CEO, iMinds.

The second building will be home to TP Vision’s European innovation centre. TP Vision, the developer of the Philips brand televisions, will occupy six floors. iCubes, an incubator/business centre linked to iMinds, will occupy two floors. The remaining floors will be available for office space to R&D companies involved in ICT.

“With the close collaboration with the innovation clusters, as well as the multiple companies located on the university campus in Ghent, we truly believe we can be even more successful in bringing new innovation to the market,” said Maarten de Vries, CEO, TP Vision.

The Ghent Technology Park is already renowned for its concentration of research groups, spin-offs and multinational biotechnology companies thanks to the co-operation between the university and the Flemish Institute for Biotechnologies VIB.

“More and more we use large data sets, mathematical modelling and computational biology, so we welcome the expertise and talent the ICT cluster will bring the park,” said Jo Bury, VIB managing director.

The park is also known for its materials research due to the presence of the materials research centre – a collaborative initiative comprising several partners.