Wallonia: cell therapy powerhouse in the heart of Europe

Over the past two decades, Wallonia has emerged as a global powerhouse of cell therapy and regenerative medicine research and development.

Aug 06, 2019
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Situated in the heart of Europe, the Belgian region of Wallonia has created a vibrant innovation ecosystem by equally investing in, and supporting the growth of, scientific excellence and entrepreneurial leadership. The life science sector in particular has experienced remarkable growth and dynamism, and in the cell therapy and regenerative medicine space, concerted efforts in cell characterization and isolation, technology transfer, and clinical manufacturing and development have resulted in technological and scientific excellence that is gaining increased international recognition (Fig. 1)

Key drivers behind this dynamic innovation ecosystem are AWEX, Wallonia Export-Investment Agency, and BioWin, the Health Competitiveness Cluster of the Walloon Region.

AWEX: investing in a unique innovation ecosystem

AWEX is a public interest organization in charge of promoting foreign trade and attracting foreign investments to Wallonia with the support of the regional government. As such, AWEX helps drive regional innovation in areas ranging from aero­nautics and space or environmental technologies to transport and logistics or life sciences. AWEX serves as a one-stop destination both for Walloon researchers and entrepreneurs interested in starting their own companies and for potential foreign partners and investors interested in partaking in Wallonia’s unique innovation ecosystem.

Wallonia, with its world-class research institutions, a highly trained workforce, and one of the densest transportation networks in Europe, provides an excellent gateway into and out of the European market. AWEX embodies the region’s philosophy of dynamic and open innovation through technological partnerships and a robust ecosystem.

BioWin: accelerating life sciences innovation

BioWin is the life sciences gateway for Wallonia. The cluster’s mission is to help drive innovation and to develop a competitive knowledge base and job opportunities in the health sector. BioWin takes a collaborative approach that brings together all players involved in this space: academic and clinical research laboratories, research centers, large industrial groups, small and medium-sized enter­prises, service providers, engineering colleges and universities, business incubators, investors, policy makers, and associated bodies.

Among BioWin’s strategic areas, its focus on regenerative medicine and cell therapies serves as an example of how a concerted effort to (1) sup­port research and development projects and build a network of infrastructures and platforms, (2) support business growth, (3) develop high-level skilled training programs, and (4) generate international business development opportunities can, over a short period of time, result in a thriving industry that is rapidly becoming a global reference in this space.

AWEX and BioWin are excited to showcase [linked below] some of the companies growing out of their joint efforts to develop the regenerative medicine and cell therapy potential in Wallonia.

Companies:

Bone Therapeutics SA
Celyad
Promethera Biosciences SA/NV
PDC*line Pharma

Contacts:

Marc Dechamps
Director of International Affairs
BioWin asbl
Gosselies, Belgium
Tel: +32 496 59 03 54
Email: marc.dechamps@biowin.org
Website: www.biowin.org

Alphi Cartuyvels, Deputy General Manager
Europe & North America
Wallonia Export-Investment Agency
Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 81 33 28 64
Email: acartuyvels@investinwallonia.be
Website: www.investinwallonia.be 

BioWin

Wallonia is a hotspot for innovative biopharma and biotechnology industry. Immunotherapy is exploding in Belgium’s Wallonia region thanks to an increasing number of initiatives and companies active in this fast-developing field. Driving this success is BioWin, one of Europe’s most innovative health clusters. Its unique ecosystem comprises 157 companies, 5 universities (Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Université de Liège (ULg), Université de Mons (UMONS) and Université de Namur (UNamur)) and 4 registered research centers. In total, the cluster includes 11,000 researchers. The biopharmaceutical industry in Wallonia has today become the driving force for growth in the region. It is the main industrial activity in Wallonia in terms of added value; it provides 54% of jobs in the Belgian pharmaceutical sector. According to Sylvie Ponchaut, BioWin’s managing director, “The government of Wallonia provides strong financial and fiscal support for the biopharmaceutical industry, which has attracted over €1 billion of private capital among SMEs since 2006. A unique ecosystem has been fostered by the presence of large players with strong roots in the region, such as GSK Vaccines, Baxter, UCB, IBA, IRE, Eurogentec Kaneka and Zoetis, and an unusually high concentration of small- and medium-sized enterprises, universities and research institutes. This has instilled a culture of technological, scientific and entrepreneurial excellence.”

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