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An extraordinary year for BioWin is coming to an end – a year full of significant milestones in our mission to accelerate innovation to meet tomorrow’s public health challenges and develop the knowledge, employment and competitiveness of all players in the health sector ecosystem. Review the best stories of 2023.

1. Belgium has climbed to second place in the European biotech industry, after Denmark

Belgium has climbed to second place in the European biotech industry, after Denmark. At the end of March 2023, Belgian companies in the sector had capitalised a total of €40.1 billion, according to data from KBC Securities.

“The biotech ecosystem is experiencing an unprecedented wave of innovation, driven by artificial intelligence, which is increasingly being integrated into the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, as well as by recent advances in Alzheimer’s disease,” observe analysts at KBC Securities.

2. Advanced therapies: BioWin, together with 26 of its members,  Presented an ambitious project to the Walloon Government

Belgium, and particularly Wallonia have an ATMP ecosystem that is unique in Europe. BioWin, and its members, have been working for months on a strategic initiative focusing on advanced therapies; disruptive approaches that open new fields in the history of medicine by enabling patients to be cured – and no longer just treated.

The objective is to bring together large companies, SMEs, research centres, universities and hospitals to consolidate the entire value chain. The project will unite forces around 12 workpackages organised in 3 major pillars: cell therapy, gene therapy and exosomes and bacteriophage therapies.

3. Success for BioWin Day 8th edition: more than 400 attendees for a full day of international networking

With over 400 participants, the event featured a full day of international networking, interactive workshops, and insights from 30+ high-level experts. A diverse audience of nationals from 10 different countries, business people, academics, scientists, consultants, trainers and others – visited the 45 exhibition stands, while more than 800 B2B meetings were arranged, involving 314 participants and announcing strong collaborations ahead. The international dimension of BioWin Day has been strengthened with total of 85 transnational meetings.

4. AWEX and BioWin supported a group of innovative Walloon medtech companies on their journey to Minneapolis

From May 8th to May 12th, AWEX and BioWin supported a group of innovative Walloon medtech companies on their journey to Minneapolis, a renowned hub for the MedTech industry. During their 4-day visit, they had the opportunity to meet with relevant local experts and visit “state of the art” medtech facilities, which could have an impact on their business strategies and growth potential. This mission not only aligned with the MoU signed in 2018 between the Medical Alley Association and BioWin, but also demonstrated the capabilities of Wallonia’s Healthtech industry to a global audience.

5. “Talent Now”: Exploring solutions for the data scientist shortage

Wallonia has a strong ecosystem for life sciences: companies are interconnected, and collaborative initiatives are well established. However, our talent pool remains a challenge to ensure we have the right competencies to support our future growth. Through its “Talent Now” BioWin attempt to supports biotech and healthtech companies in the Walloon region to develop pragmatic activities to support their recruitment strategies, address the talent shortage and build the right competencies for the future.

In 2023, starting with a first priority the Talent Now group explored new solutions for the shortage of data scientist profiles. For Belgium, there is already a varied range of 37 high-quality academic courses to train these experts. So rather than creating new training courses, the working group’s recommendations focused on bringing young data scientists closer to the professional world of Life Sciences through internships and “real life” experience modules.

6. BioWin and Polepharma signed a partnership agreement to strengthen collaboration in the biopharmaceutical sector

BioWin, the health cluster of Wallonia, and Polepharma, the French (bio)pharmaceutical industry cluster, have formalised their partnership aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two entities. The agreement focuses on three key areas: human resources, biomanufacturing and biomedical research projects.

7. Wallonia, champion in the fight against cancer

In Wallonia, innovation in the fight against cancer is recognized worldwide, thanks to the presence of leading companies in the fields of nuclear medicine, medical imaging, immunotherapy, precision medicine and proton therapy, and also thanks to the contributions of outstanding academics and clinicians. For patients, there is much to look forward to…

8. Industrie du futur: 2 Walloon Biotech companies labeled as ‘Ambassadeurs Made Different’

The programme “Industrie du Futur” of Digital Wallonia aims to accelerate the digital transformation of businesses in Wallonia. Following a set of evaluation criteria known as “Made Different”, companies that excel in the Industry 4.0 domain have the opportunity to compete for the prestigious title of “Factory of the Future”.

This year, two companies in the Health and Life Sciences ecosystem obtained the recognition. Thanks to personalized guidance, including a digital maturity diagnosis provided by the accredited research center CETIC, as part of the Industry of the Future project “BioMan” coordinated by BioWin, Mithra CDMO and Texere biotech were awarded this distinctive title.

9. R&I : 10 new projects labelled between 2020 and 2023

Between 2020 and 2023, BioWin members dedicated €37 million in BioWin’s R&D projects, including €11 million from private funding.

These projects fall within the cluster’s priority areas, which include the application of digital technologies to biomanufacturing, implanted medical devices, in vitro diagnostic, discovery and development of advances therapies and the use of radiation in healthcare. The digital technology projects are in line with the current growth trend and alone account for a quarter of the total investment.

10. Renewal of the Board of Directors

BioWin’s Board of Directors, the cluster’s key decision-making body, is renewed every 3 years to ensure dynamic, evolving governance that is well aligned with current challenges.

During this three-year period, BioWin has focused on areas where Wallonia has competitive advantages, in line with the European Union’s Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3). The cluster’s strategic areas of activity include (1) biopharma and in particular the development of ATMPs (Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products), (2) Medtech and (3) e-health. This focus has accelerated technological advances and strengthened Wallonia’s position as a centre of excellence in Life Sciences.

11. Two events, uniting Belgium’s regions

BioWin and MEDVIA are two Belgian organizations which support and promote health innovation in Wallonia and Flanders, and collaboration is in their DNA. This year, the two clusters have come together to jointly organize 2 major events: Science for health and the Heatlhtech Investor Summit.

This year was special — as we intensified our collaborative efforts to create more connections between the Flemish and Walloon communities (including governments, companies, research institutes, hospitals, and more) with a common goal: to improve the health of patients in Belgium and the rest of the world. By jointly organizing events, we aim to consolidate a critical mass of players active in a specific health domain.

We have a strong ally in Medvia, and together we can address the challenges that play out at the federal level. We are trying to align funding channels, so that companies, hospitals, and universities in both regions can obtain the support they need to work together.