DEVISE Project Staff Exchange – West Flanders

DEVISE Project Staff Exchange – West Flanders Group of participants gathered on steps in front of a building

As part of the DEVISE project, stakeholders from Ireland (Enterprise Ireland, NUIG and Donegal County Council) attended a two-day knowledge exchange visit in West Flanders to learn about public sector supports and Universities which support the growth of ICT companies and SMEs with their digital transformation.

The staff exchange was organised by project partner VokaChamber of Commerce West Flanders in Belgium, on the 5th and 6th of November 2019. Partners and stakeholders from Spain, France, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Finland got the opportunity to visit Howest University of Applied Sciences. The Howest University Industrial Design Centre have specialist equipment and dedicated workspaces to help students turn ideas into real and viable products and prototypes. The University also allow businesses to use their facilities to design and develop products for a monthly fee. Partners also learned about ‘MyMachine Methodology’, a process based on co-creation, collaboration between children and students of all educational levels who work together as equals to realize “dream machines” during one academic year.

The second visit took DEVISE project partners and stakeholders to Barco’s premises, including their co-working space. Barco is a Belgian technology company that specializes in digital projection and imaging technology and have over 3,600 employees worldwide with headquarters in Kortrijk (Belgium). Barco aims to “use technology to transform the quality of life: from improving health outcomes to changing the way people work and creating compelling experiences”.

During the second day of the staff exchange, attendees visited Hangar-K, a space for companies to work together and co-create design-based products. Hangar-K is “a co-creation hub where starters, growers and established companies are brought together under one roof with a clear mission: to strengthen entrepreneurship”. Hanger-K is a disused railway station that has been turned into a modern co-working space and start-up incubator with funding Barco, the City of Kortrijk and Howest University.

Finally, participants got an insight into the IMEC.ICON programme, which is led by West Flanders and aims to transfer research and innovation to the industry. This research programme provides access to the knowledge of 4000 researchers under the following domains: smart cities, smart mobility, smart industries, smart infotainment, smart health, smart energy and smart education. It offers interdisciplinary cooperative research tailored to the needs of the industry and a route for valorization in viable services and products. The stakeholders and partners in the DEVISE project will use the knowledge gained from this staff exchange to develop actions for the final Action Plan which will improve policies in the region.

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly along with ERNACT in Donegal are project partners in the DEVISE project which runs from 2018-2022 . Learn more about the DEVISE project at

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