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Arnaud Dierickx, Tirdad Kiamanesh, Andre Nogueira





Carlos Teixeira



Overview of the project


The model described here has the potential to be implemented in Flanders due to the facilities, capabilities, institutions, and industries available in this geographical location. Not only that, but the governmental support is already in place for an agency like this to be created with as a hybrid institution, devoted to the creation and diffusion of ideas through and with industry.

Organizational Model for Innovation in

Flander Maker,

a knowledge broker in Belgium 



Flanders Make is the strategic research center for the manufacturing industry, launched in October 2014; its primary focus is on production technology and smart assembling.


It is projected that by 2018, more than 300 researchers will work full-time at Flanders Make’s two establishments, in Lommel and Leuven. Additionally, they collaborate intensively with the research labs at the 5 Flemish Universities;


University of Leuven


  • Centre for industrial management/traffic and infrastructure

  • Electrical energy & computer architectures

  • Production engineering, Machine design, and Automation


University of Ghent


  • Energy Efficient Drive Trains (EEDT)

  • Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISYE)


University of Antwerp


  • Ansymo is a research group at the University of Antwerp investigating foundations, techniques, methods, and tools for the design, analysis, and maintenance of software-intensive systems.


University of Brussels


  • Brussels Photonics

  • MOBI, the Mobility, Logistics and Automotive Technology Research Centr

  • Robotics and MultiBody Mechanics Research Group


University of Hasselt


  • The Institute for Materials Research (IMO) is a research center of Hasselt University with a vast knowledge in the field of materials science


There are other strategic research centers in Belgium, but they focus on other areas such as biotech (VIB) or nano-electronics and nanotech (IMEC) and ICT (iMinds).


Flanders Make collaborates with major companies and SMEs. Together they focus on product and process innovation based on the challenges and needs of the industry. The current research focus is on four technological domains:


  • power electronics & energy storage

  • mechatronics & design methods

  • production processes

  • people-driven system development.


This will, as a first step, yield product and process innovations in 3 fields of application:


  • Vehicle

  • Machine

  • Factories


All three of these can have an exciting impact on the Belgian business ecosystem as manufacturing and process improvements are wanted in the large automotive/machine industry present.

There also is the role for Flanders Make to educate the public and to add to the knowledge creating capabilities in Flanders. This enables the interaction with other knowledge focused institutions, funding institutions, and even policymakers.


Additionally, as a member of the European Union, there are opportunities to expand beyond the Belgian realm and venture into cooperation with other research institutions across the union.


Used Notions:


  • Open Innovation

  • Crowdsourcing

  • Internet Of Things

  • Innovation Districts

  • Innovation Ecosystem

  • Innovation Communities

  • Knowledge Brokerage

Open Innovation Model

Client Network

The client network here can be broader than it currently is, the various business models that are enabled by the network will draw in more clients than those that are currently using Flanders Make.


Clients could be:


  • Those in need of information ( Access to the knowledge network )

  • Those in need of help ( Consulting needs )

  • Those in need of specific knowledge ( Knowledge Gaps in Ideation, Prototyping or Production )

  • Those in need of particular assets ( Access to Asset network )

  • Those in need of prototypes ( Access to prototyping capabilities or specific assets or tools )

  • Those that have assets which are underutilized ( Providers of the asset network )

  • Those that have production capabilities that are underutilized ( Providers production network )

  • Those that possess specific knowledge ( Providers of the knowledge network )

Knowledge Network

By expanding and integrating a network outside of the educational institutions, FM will be able to tap into a much larger talent pool, extending the capabilities they can rely on. The capabilities that could be interesting to integrate are the following:



  • Incubators

    • EEBIC, Eurobiotec, ICAB Incubator, Incubateur de l'UCL, BLSI (Brussels Life Science Incubator), Kheops Business Center Idelux, CEILLN, The Hub Brussels, MIC (Microsoft Innovation Center), Solvay Entrepreneurs Bruxelles, Betagroup coworking space, The Arenberg Science Park, The Haasrode Business, KU Leuven bio-incubator, Research Park in Leuven, Innovation Centre, Leuven Spin-off Centre, etc.. )

The out & insourcing of projects depend can be handled flexible based on client demands and project sensitivity.

Production Network

To expand the capabilities and move FM to a smart distributed manufacturing, we need to nest it strongly in both private and public entities to enable access to underutilized or critical resources.


Incorporating available resources and capabilities into a digital platform enables a broader range of solutions as single labs aren’t limited to proprietary assets, allowing more specialization without more investments.


Especially specific capabilities such as 3D printing, Laser cutting or injection molding are interesting to link to the network.


  • Materialise ( 3D Printing Software )

  • 3D systems ( 3D Metal Printing )

Asset Network

Both Knowledge Creation and Knowledge Enabling assets, such as labs and research centers, or perhaps specialty tools need to be mapped and linked to the platform to allow access to agents in the network. This allows a higher degree of specialization without having to rely on significant investments.


To facilitate the financial burden for companies that can’t bankroll access themselves, FM can incorporate public and private funding institutions:


  • Public Funding Agencies

  • AIO: Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship

  • FWO: Research Foundation Flanders

  • PMV: Flanders Holding Company (to a limited degree)

  • LRM: Investment Company LRM.

Central Knowledge Broker


  • Managing and updating central master database

  • Linking potential clients, knowledge agents, assets and production partners

  • Interacting with governmental institutions

  • Managing macro projects and timelines

  • Selection and curation of knowledge concepts, prototypes and production proposals

Community Manager


  • Managing all the knowledge agents in the network

  • Updating the database with all the relevant labels representing knowledge agent capabilities

  • Adding relevant agents with new capabilities by parsing through publications or other media

  • Tagging knowledge agents to potential prototyping machines and production companies

  • Updating others in agency about newly added capabilities

Account Manager 


  • Verifying attractiveness of clients and potential projects

  • Translating the need into an understandable format for internal meetings

  • Working with team members to create relevant briefs and RFP’s

  • Maintaining client relationships and diffusing knowledge available through agency

  • Updating others in agency about newly added clients

Prototype Broker


  • Updating network of assets

  • Managing clients and assets

  • Adding assets and labeling accordingly with knowledge needed and projects that can be executed

  • Updating others in agency about newly added capabilities

Production Broker


  • Adding production partners capable of small - large batches

  • Adding production partners focussing on specialized or commodities

  • Maintaining relationships with manufacturers to pinpoint trends, knowledge, and machines they might need

  • Provide feedback on proposals sent in and out

  • Updating others in agency about newly added capabilities

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