ANNUAL REPORT 2016

Vision on technology for a better world

Sustainable society

25 YEARS VITO

A quarter century of growth and increasing impact

Em. prof. dr. Harry Martens<br/>Chairman of the board of directors
Em. prof. dr. Harry Martens
Chairman of the board of directors

“VITO aims to have a major impact on these developments with its research, its knowledge of the necessary accompanying policy measures and its knowledge of the market and market introductions.”

VITO celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2016 at the international VITO Conference i-SUP2016. Both activities were well attended and garnered high praise from those present. This was also the case for the other outreach activities organised by VITO in 2016. Reactions can be read in this annual report.

VITO disposed of a total budget of €174 million in 2016, the largest budget to date. VITO also scored increasingly better in terms of the total number of patents filed in 2016. For the 2nd time in a row, VITO was ranked in the top 10 of “most patents filed” in Belgium. On 21 March, VITO opened a new subsid- iary in Doha, Qatar to introduce its research and expertise to the Middle East. VITO also achieved international successes in China with the valorisation of VITO research on biocompatible materials.

ONE VITO

EXPERTISE

RENEWABLE
ENERGY

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"ENERGYVILLE IS AN INNOVATIVE TESTING GROUND FOR INDUSTRY AND GOVERNMENT"

In 2016, the BREEAM-certified headquarters of EnergyVille opened on the former mining site in Genk-Waterschei. The former centre of the old coal industry made way for a brand new research centre for energy efficiency and the integration of renewable energy into a sustainable urban environment. The collaboration between VITO and KU Leuven quickly turned into a reference partner for government and industry, both in Flanders and internationally.

Bert Gysen

“Our new site is more than an office for energy experts and a symbolic signboard for the transition from black to green energy,” says Bert Gysen, Energy Technology Unit Manager. “EnergyVille is also a living lab, where we test innovative battery systems and demonstrate the energy networks of the future. The rooms, the laboratories, the energy systems: all are linked.
Which makes it ideal for testing energy scenarios, simulating situations and developing business models.
We do this in close cooperation with companies that come to us because of our infrastructure but also because of our knowledge to take innovative energy concepts to a higher level of technological readiness.”

SUSTAINABLE
MATERIALS MANAGEMENT

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“COMPETITIVE MATERIALS INDUSTRY AS A STRATEGIC ASSET FOR FLANDERS AND EUROPE”

With its Vision 2050 strategy, the Flemish Government presented a long-term plan for Flanders in 2015. One of its seven priorities is the transition to a circular economy. VITO’s Sustainable Materials Management unit is encouraging this transition by focussing on technological research and innovative concepts for the materials industry and other stakeholders.

Peter Vercaemst

Peter Vercaemst, Unit Manager: “Natural resources are becoming scarcer and price fluctuations create uncertainty. With our research projects and demonstrations about resource management, recycling and new business models, we offer specific, cost-effective solutions. The circular economy represents a true economic revolution, and we wish to deliver the necessary scientific building blocks.”

SUSTAINABLE
CHEMISTRY

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“WE ARE HELPING TO REDESIGN THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY”

Chemical products are everywhere, and due to population growth, the demand for chemicals continues to rise worldwide. This has a major impact on the environment and puts pressure on raw material reserves. The chemical industry is looking for new technologies and business models to turn new challenges into an economic opportunity. VITO is a strong proponent of this transition to sustainable chemistry.

Bert Bouwman

Unit Manager Bert Bouwman:
“The entire chemical sector needs to refocus itself to become more sustainable.
This is essential for a society in change. VITO focuses mainly on finding alternative raw materials and improving processes in the chemical industry.”

SUSTAINABLE
HEALTH

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“PREVENTION AND SCREENING TAKE AWAY PRESSURE FROM HEALTHCARE SYSTEM”

Healthcare in Flanders is under pressure. Its quality is excellent, but the increasing costs make the system unsustainable. A focus on prevention and accurate diagnosis is part of the solution. With new applications, measurement methods and biomarkers, VITO aims to prevent as many diseases as possible or detect them at an early stage.

Rudi Torfs

Care consists of several stages: prevention, detection, healing, aftercare and possibly chronic care. Traditionally, most resources are used in curative medicine. That is still the case today. The medical profession has become better at healing the sick and increasing life expectancy. “So, our health is good. In addition, our healthcare scores very well internationally,” says Rudi Torfs, Sustainable Health Unit Manager. “At the same time, healthcare is very expensive. VITO develops technologies, knowledge and systems that prove that preventive healthcare can provide relief to the system.”

SUSTAINABLE
LAND USE: ENVIRONMENTAL MODELLING

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“BETTER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT THANKS TO ADVANCED ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING”

Smog alarms, drought, loss of natural areas to development: the media is full of such reports. Critical resources such as air, water and space are scarce. VITO’s Spatial Environmental Aspects unit analyses the situation and uses advanced models to predict the future availability and quality of resources. “We provide policymakers and businesses with monitoring tools for future- oriented resource management.”

Clemens Mensink

“At the end of 2016, the ‘concrete stop’ was all over the press: the Flemish Government’s new White Paper - Flanders Spatial Policy Plan wishes to tackle the further appropriation of public space,” says Clemens Mensink, Spatial Environmental Aspects Unit Manager. “With our know-how we have contributed to the White Paper. VITO’s tools are very useful for governments to better manage resources, such as space, water, air and ecosys- tems in the future.”

SUSTAINABLE
LAND USE: REMOTE SENSING

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“WE PROVIDE THE BIGGER PICTURE: INSIGHT INTO OUR EARTH”

Excessive algal bloom, diseased crops, wear and tear on wind turbines: remote sensing offers a solution to all of these problems. VITO processes satellite imagery, aerial images and images taken with drones, and translates these into useful information products. “Remote sensing contributes significantly to sustainable development goals such as the global food problem and climate change.”

Steven Krekels

“We chart the Earth,” says Unit Manager Steven Krekels. “We monitor land use with satellites, drones provide insight into the state of our crops, our aircraft monitor air quality, and laser data give us a good picture of our infrastructure. We work closely with businesses and European research partners such as the European Space Agency (ESA). It is our goal to make knowledge of the Earth available in order to deal with global issues, such as food production or biodiversity.”

VITO PROJECTS AROUND THE WORLD

Countries where VITO executes projects

DOWNLOAD THE ANNUAL REPORT 2016

Together with other companies, governments and consumers, VITO aspires a sustainable and prosperous economy and society. That’s why VITO develops new technologies and provides ready-made innovative solutions. Read all about it in our annual report.

Paper version VITO Annual report 2016