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winter 2012/2013


Nanotechnology: Small is beautiful Embracing animation with Anima


Editor Sarah Crew Deputy editor Sally Tipper Reporters Marie Dumont, Andy Furniere, Tania Rabesandratana, Saffina Rana, Senne Starckx Art director Paul Van Dooren Managing director Hans De Loore AWEX/WBI and Ackroyd Publications Philippe Suinen – AWEX/WBI Marie-Catherine Duchêne AWEX, Place Sainctelette 2 1080 Brussels, Belgium Tel: 00.32(0)2.421.85.76 Fax: 00.32(0)2.421.83.93 email:

Cover Acrobacy by Romain Caban at the ‘Grand Prix Wallonie à l’Exportation’ Image Benjamin Giourgas©


wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013

Editorial In the current economic climate, good news stories provide welcome cheer. Along with the green-shoot reports of investment and innovation in this issue of WAB, the message from Belgium’s latest trade delegation abroad is particularly positive for Brussels and Wallonia. Prince Phillipe led one of the largest and longest missions ever to economically robust and recession-resistant Australia and New Zealand at the end of November. The 147-strong Belgian contingent consisted of ministers, representatives from 87 companies and a major delegation from francophone universities, including three rectors and a vice-rector. This significant academic turnout was due not only to the seductiveness of Australia’s financial clout, but the growing success of university partnerships with private businesses. Such collaborations are common practice in the Antipodes, while in Brussels and Wallonia they are multiplying thanks to the resolve of the Wallonia government and the Marshall Plan. All the universities signed partnership deals, ranging from agro-alimentary to nutrition, health and student exchange schemes. Mission accomplished!


Headlines from the region


Winning Wallonia companies


Digital home care for the elderly


Life science venture in Wallonia

11 28


Nanotech – small science, big gains


Puggy launch new album


Designers Elric Petit and Michael Young


Countdown to Mons 2015


Charcuterie craft in Wallonia



Sci-fi art at Grand-Hornu


Entertaining animations


Theatre, children’s fun and festive markets

wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013




Comic-strip hero Spirou turns 75 The only surviving Franco-Belgian weekly comic strip, Spirou, is to be reprinted to mark its 75th anniversary. Early works by the character’s creator are being released by publisher Editions Dupuis, based in Marcinelles, near Charleroi. The company is planning a series of celebratory events for April 2013, including special and luxury editions of its most famous album. The spring edition of WAB will also feature the adventurous red-clad character, his friend Fantasio and pet squirrel Spip. Dupuis launched a large-format weekly magazine aimed at young people in 1938. It featured the comic strip Spirou, drawn by Rob-Vel, a young artist from France. Initially it was only in French and available solely in Wallonia, although a Dutch version, Robbedoes, was launched later that year. The series quickly grew in popularity and when Rob-Vel was unable to continue to work because of the war, local artist and celebrated cartoonist Jijé (Joseph Gillain) continued his work before passing the baton to Spirou’s most illustrious illustrator Franquin. It marked the beginning of a golden age for comic strips in Belgium, and a succession of artists has since continued to capture the famous figure until the present day. Confirming not only the public but commercial interest in comic strip is the success of animation studio DreamWall that was created from an association between Dupuis Editions and TV station RTBF in 2007. Operating from the Marcinelles office of Dupuis, DreamWall has collaborated in numerous television projects, including Petit Spirou, Cédric, Garfield and Lulu Vroumette. In November 2012 it announced a recapitalisation of €1,15 million following its selection to make part of the next Astérix and Obélix animation film. Two new shareholders Wallimage Entreprises and Sambrinvest have injected a total of €535,000, while existing partners RTBF and Dupuis together with the new shareholders are providing a long-term investment of €612,000. The Franco-Belgian film Astérix et le domaine des dieux is due to be released in the autumn of 2014.  www.dupuiS.Com


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Five-star hotel proposed for Brussels church A deconsecrated church in central Brussels is due to open as a five-star hotel in 2016. The latest project for the Gesu church and convent in Rue Royale, opposite the Botanical Gardens, would combine a 75room hotel with 75 studios and apartments. The company behind the planned development in the commune of SaintJosse is SA Royale, consisting of Swiss group Rosebud Heritage and Belgian construction business Building & Engineering, and the proposal is dependent on obtaining building permission by next summer. The project also consists of 170 underground parking places, public restaurants and a conference centre. SA Royale has promised 123 jobs for qualified local people. The developer has also said that 150 homeless people currently squatting on the site could remain until the issuing of a building permit.

positive results for wallonia’s first health sector blog A new English-language blog dedicated to key players in Wallonia’s health sector is providing up-to-date information on innovations, investments and technological partnerships. Launched in the summer by BioWin, Wallonia’s health cluster, the weekly blog is increasing its number of users, according to BioWin’s director of communication, Frédéric Druck. “It showcases health, pharmaceutical and technological information for an international audience. Member companies and research centres can now express themselves and provide information on projects. It is of course just the tip of the iceberg, a selection of what is going on, but it shows potential investors, human resources and other companies what is happening on the ground level.” 

opening of ‘european priority markets – welcome office’ in Charleroi A new facility targeting foreign investors originating from Europe, Turkey and North Africa was recently opened by AWEX (Wallonia Foreign Trade & Investment Agency) in close cooperation with IGRETEC (Charleroi South Hainaut’s Economic Development Agency). Located at Charleroi’s science park, commonly known as Aeropole, the new office benefits from the presence of the nearby booming Brussels South Charleroi Airport, which operates direct flights to the majority of targeted countries. AWEX CEO Philippe Suinen said: “From this office, foreign companies will be able to benefit from a whole range of services. This first landing point will enable them to test the market before eventually choosing to establish themselves in Belgium.” Three more ‘Welcome Offices’ are scheduled to open in the near future, each dedicated to foreign investors from different parts of the globe: Namur (ASEAN countries), Louvainla-Neuve (Japan) and Tournai (United States). There are already three operating ‘Welcome Offices’ in Mons (China), Liège (India) and Arlon (Latin America and Brazil).

Turn-of-the-century museum to open in Brussels The Royal Museum of Fine Arts has confirmed the inauguration of a Fin-de Siècle museum on May 7. Financing remains dependent on the government’s federal budget negotiations. The project, to be housed in the former Modern Art Museum, would showcase Belgian art from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. More than 400 works from 1863 to 1914 would fill the 6,000m2 space, by artists including Maurice Maeterlinck, Emile Verhaeren and Octave Maus. It forms the second part of redeployment of federal collections following the opening of the Magritte Museum in 2009. The new cultural institution “shows how Belgium was a country that shone around the world on the cultural front during this period”, said political science minister Paul Magnette. The federal Royal Museums Building organisation has invested €6.5 million in the museum and the project has also received a donation of €1 million from the Gillion-Crowet family, whose collection will be permanently on show.

New smartphone app comes to the aid of delayed commuters A Namur researcher has come up with an application that helps passengers claim compensation when their train is delayed. Renaud Lambiotte of the maths department of the University of Namur developed the app for iPhone and Android smartphones to simplify the SNCB compensation process. Previously, passengers had to fill in a form with the time of the delayed train, its number, explain if there were any connections, theoretical arrival time and the number of minutes delayed. Now, with the new app, one or two clicks are sufficient. Once a train is delayed, the passenger starts the application, which localises his or her position and suggests trains the passenger could be travelling on. The user clicks on the right train and provides the required information. Once a passenger has been delayed by more than 15 minutes a total of 20 times, they can download the automatically completed form and send it to SNCB.

 www.awex.Be  www.SCi-app.Com

wallonia and brussels magazine WINTEr 2012/2013




Think local, act global Wallonia rewards the best exporters of innovation in the region BY AndY Furniere

Grand Prize Wallonia Export Awards: CE+T Power

Wallonia Export Award: Rosier

Founded in 1937, CE+T has for 20 years been an international market leader in developing power electronics that secure the uninterrupted supply of electricity to essential applications in sectors such as telecommunications, transport, the petroleum industry and finance. Its headquarters are in Liège but CE+T has branches in several European countries, India, China and the US. The enterprise has a 12 percent growth rate in exports and is recognised as the Walloon company that has most improved its export performances recently.

Rosier’s mission since 1880: better nourishment for plants, leading to better nourishment for people. Annually, the Moustier company manufactures around 750,000 tons of mineral fertilisers, resulting in an annual revenue of more than €250 million from exports to about 120 countries on all continents. Because of its wide range, the enterprise can answer the need of every plant in the world with adapted solutions. Rosier develops tailor-made formulations for clients who supply farmers with products that take into account the climate, soil and crop type. So wheat in northern Picardy, orchids in Singapore and fruit in Malaysia are all cultivated with Walloon fertilisers.

Olivier Bomboir, manager sales & marketing: “Our TSI technology is a revolutionary concept of modular power converters that is more efficient than anything else out there. We are convinced that an important part of our future lies in the United States, but our success there depends on the certification of our technology, which is ongoing. We are also targeting the establishment of commercial activities in Russia and the Middle East.”


wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013

Raphaël De Rijcke, commercial manager: “We’re most proud of our new factory where we are developing ever more efficient and safer products, such as Rheobor, an innovative calcium borate liquid fertiliser. We are expanding the portfolio of our range of speciality products through R&D activity at our new factory, primarily for neighbouring countries, but we are looking overseas as well.”


ith the biennial Wallonia Export Awards, the Wallonia Foreign Trade & Investment Agency (AWEX) toasted the success of companies who promote Walloon know-how abroad through an increase of their exports or the penetration of difficult markets. The grand prize winner gets the chance to participate in two economic missions abroad, organised by or in collaboration with AWEX. And all six laureates benefit from a grant for a language immersion programme at Ceran Lingua International and support from international commerce specialist Classe Export in expanding their exports. The grand prize winner of the 13th Wallonia Export Awards is Liège’s CE+T Power, which has specialised in power electronics since the 1960s. Fertiliser manufacturer Rosier and pipeline constructor TD Williamson took home awards, while in the Services category, e-commerce enterprise PFSweb came away with the prize. Bioelectronics business STX-Med was honoured as the company that integrated young entrepreneurs the best in its international development. And the Springboard Award went to mobile games developer Fishing Cactus, a promising company on the verge of reaching the competition’s threshold of an average of 70 percent exports over the past three fiscal years.

Wallonia Export Award: TD Williamson

Wallonia Export Award’s Services category: PFSweb

TD Williamson is the world’s main supplier of equipment and services for the construction of pipelines on land or under water, for the transport of fossil fuels such as gas and petrol. The base in Nivelles is the company’s biggest establishment outside the US, employing about 180 people and producing a revenue of €58 million. With a dozen branches on all continents, the business is globally active and increasing its export sales.

PFSweb in Bierset provides services for e-commerce, or the sale of products over the internet and other computer networks. The business has comprehensive expertise in e-shop creation, online marketing, order management and logistic activities, international distribution, online payments and multilingual customer services. After launching in 1999 as a pioneer in e-commerce solutions, the enterprise now has a global client portfolio including brands in almost every major industry.

Bruno Hubert, commercial manager: “We’re most proud of the development of state-of-the-art electronic equipment that autonomously conducts inspections during the production process. This saves time and ensures the quality of our final products. We want to consolidate our position as market leader and still increase the performance of our services and viability of the products.

Martijn Duynstee, manager of PFSweb Europe: “The well-known brands that we are proud to call our clients include Clarins, Olympus, O’Neill, Lexmark, Xerox, Havaianas, Salomon, etc. We are aiming for further expansion so our clients will soon be able to sell their products online on Asian and South American markets.”

wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013




Young Entrepreneurs Export Award: STX-Med

Export Springboard Award: Fishing Cactus

A start-up at Liège science park, creating electronic products that improve human health and wellbeing. This specialist in (bio-) electronics operates several projects in close collaboration with research centres and universities. STXMed in particular merits praise for its integration of young people in its skilled team of engineers and physicians. Its primary markets in Europe are France, Spain, the UK and Slovenia. Outside Europe, STX-Med mainly exports to Canada, Mexico, Lebanon, Kuwait, Malaysia and Singapore.

Founded in 2008 by four friends, the developer of both serious and entertainment games has grown to a team of around 30 programmers, designers and graphic artists from different cultural backgrounds. This multidisciplinary and multinational team, based in Mons, has already produced more than 50 games on various digital platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox Live, PSN, Nintendo Wii and 3DS) and several custom-designed products for leading developers like UbiSoft, Bigben Interactive and SEGA. The Springboard Award puts the spotlight on this company that is progressing remarkably well but just has not yet reached an average of 70 percent exports over the past three fiscal years. Fishing Cactus mainly targets the markets of the US, UK, France, South Korea and Japan.

Pierre Rigaux, manager: “Our unique Cefaly technology, which relieves migraines through a light neurostimulating device that is placed on the head unlike the common implant solutions requiring surgery, is the most powerful solution against migraine on the market, and has no side effects. We marketed the device in 2009 and have since then distributed it to twenty-five countries on five continents. We are looking now at registration of our products in the US and China, plus setting up the distribution facilities.”


wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013

Laurent Grumiaux, commercial manager: “We experienced our first success story in 2009 with Shift, an entertainment game for portable devices such as the iPhone. More than 16 million people worldwide have already played the game and the version for Nintendo 3DS has become our first game that is available in stores instead of purely digital. We want to create more large-scale, ambitious games such as our latest creation, Creatures 4, the new game in a classic series that is famous throughout the gaming world.”



Outside the box CareSquare’s expertise is helping elderly people stay in their own homes for longer BY Saffina Rana

H It’s very simple and easy to use: you put it on a desk or table and plug it in – and that’s it BY SéBaStIen RouSSeaux

elping people live with illness at home rather than in hospital has long been a goal of medical science. CareSquare in Gosselies, near Charleroi, has solved some of the technological challenges, though healthcare systems in Europe have yet to catch up with its advances. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are generally not curable, but they are manageable with regular monitoring. Given the choice, most people would prefer to be monitored at home: getting to a medical centre can in itself become an obstacle to health for those who live in a rural area or have conditions and disabilities that affect their mobility. Having health monitored at home after a stay in hospital is also an attractive prospect; recovery tends to be much faster in familiar surroundings, especially if family members are on hand. With technological advances, measuring weight, pulse, blood pressure and blood glucose levels have become fairly simple tasks which anyone can

carry out in the home in a matter of minutes. Yet taking accurate readings at set times and transmitting them to a doctor or hospital can be as much a burden as keeping appointments at a medical centre. This is the challenge taken on by CareSquare, established in January 2012 by Sébastien Rousseaux and Simon Alexandre (CETIC’s director) as a spin-off from CETIC, the Centre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technologies in Charleroi. CareSquare came up with the Digital Friend, a nifty 20 inch touchscreen computer which can control specially designed Bluetooth devices – a pulse oxymeter to measure blood oxygen and pulse rate, blood glucose meter, blood pressure monitor and weight scale. It even reminds patients when they should be taking measurements. Doctors can securely set the readings they require, the frequency and safe levels. Once taken, the readings are wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013




sent automatically to healthcare intermediaries or directly to health professionals. If readings are above or below safe levels, the intermediaries contact patients and their carers, and alert doctors who can then take steps to review or modify treatments. In Belgium, the Digital Friend has been tested in an eight-month clinical trial involving patients aged over 70 in La Louvière suffering from chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. It has also been tested in the Czech Republic and Italy. The Walloon trial led to the commercialisation and release of the computer in Belgium in autumn 2012. Rousseaux, department manager at CETIC before creating CareSquare, has been developing the concept and the product since 2005. Early support came through EU-funded health monitoring projects looking at technologies to help elderly people live independently.


heath authorities and ergonomists working with elderly patients. “Now it’s completely touchscreen. It’s very simple and easy to use: you put it on a desk or table and plug it in – and that’s it.” Digital Friend has proved successful in an unexpected way. To get computeraverse people to use it and to keep people entertained while they take their medical readings, the CareSquare team incorporated games and the internet. It also built in Skype, so users can make video calls to family and friends. This has been a runaway success and orders have been coming in for the touchscreen computer alone. “During the trial, people were really happy to have video calls with their families, some of whom were in France. One of the elderly users was crying in front of me because it was the first time in five years she had seen one of her friends,” says Rousseaux.

Since some older people had problems using computers with keyboards, or didn’t want to use computers at all, early prototypes involved connecting medical devices to televisions, operated with remote controls. “At that time there were not a lot of touchscreen computers. They were very expensive and not particularly user-friendly,” says Rousseaux.

“We realised medical problems are not the only problems elderly people face. At €840 including taxes, the price of a good computer, the touchscreen computer without the medical kit is proving very popular,” he continues. CareSquare will even rent it to users for €39 a day. The computer, with a Bluetooth hypertension kit that automatically transmits the data, costs around €1,300.

Once the technology caught up, Rousseaux and his partners redesigned the system with the expertise of doctors,

The full medical benefit of the system will come when the healthcare system catches up with the technology.

wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013

Rousseaux has seen a shift in thinking. “We had more than a year of discussions with doctors, hospitals and health insurance societies before creating CareSquare,” he recalls. “We noticed a real change in the behaviour of all these actors from when we started talking to them in 2005. Doctors, for example, were suspicious that we wanted to replace their work with technology. Now they realise there are too many patients, too few doctors and nurses and they need to use tools to help them. We know it will take a lot of time to create a structure to deploy this technology, but the current feedback from them all is very good.” In 2013 CareSquare hopes to participate with insurer Mutualité Socialiste in a two-year project funded by the Belgian government to investigate the use of the system for home hospitalisation. “Keeping people in hospital is much more expensive than monitoring them at home but in Belgium there are not really any clear figures on this. This project will evaluate the cost of hospitalisation more precisely,” says Rousseaux. CareSquare is also participating in discussion groups on technologies for home hospitalisation with health insurance group Mutualité chrétienne.  www.CaReSquaRe.COm



Pharmaceutical heartland

Pfizer animal Health’s revamped €22 million R&d centre in Louvain-la-neuve, where it employs 220 people

The region is attracting and retaining investment from Big Pharma thanks to business-friendly policies BY Tania RaBesandRaTana

L Workers at Janssen are all very motivated to be part of the operation. It’s really nice to see Janssen spokesman

ife sciences have long been one of Wallonia’s fortes – with a strong academic tradition, a large number of small research-based companies, and pharmaceutical firms established here for decades. The biomedical area gets special attention from the regional government to keep and increase this edge. In particular, life science is one of the priorities selected as part of Wallonia’s Marshall Plan, launched in 2006 to enhance the region’s economy (see box). And it works. Marcel Claes, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium, has praised the region’s

efforts to attract private investment. “A good support environment from the regional government, the creation of several innovation-focused clusters, strong ties between business and local universities and financial incentives have all helped make Wallonia an interesting destination to do business,” Claes recently told British newspaper the Financial Times. According to Tom Heyman, CEO of Janssen Pharmaceutica in Belgium, government measures allow the country to compete in the same league as countries such as wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013




Behind the scenes at Janssen Pharmaceutica’s €49 million distribution centre in La Louvière

Switzerland, Singapore and Ireland. Three recent examples demonstrate this in practice. ■ On October 3, Janssen Pharmaceutica, part of US group Johnson & Johnson, picked the Walloon town of La Louvière over some 70 other candidate cities to set up a €49 million distribution centre. The 21,500m2 building hosts 115 workers, mostly hired through a company called Ceva Logistics. They will ship drugs to more than 40,000 hospitals, pharmacies and wholesalers worldwide. The centre in La Louvière will work alongside the company’s existing distribution hubs for medical devices and clinical supplies, in nearby Courcelles as well as in Flanders. 12

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■ A week later, US firm Pfizer Animal Health inaugurated a revamped €22 million R&D centre in Wallonia’s university town, Louvain-la-Neuve. The site now includes facilities to quickly research, develop and produce limited quantities of new animal vaccines in case of an emerging disease. The enlarged pilot plant and labs created 13 extra jobs, bringing Pfizer’s total staff number in Louvain-la-Neuve to 220 people. ■ Back in September, Brussels-based multinational UCB launched a biotech pilot plant on its Brainel’Alleud site. The €65 million plant will produce monoclonal antibodies for use in clinical trials. Before the facility was launched, this type of production

was outsourced to a contract manufacturing organisation – but UCB is now keen on developing its in-house biotech expertise. In all three cases, Wallonia’s authorities put money on the table to help secure the investment. “The government came up with a big part of the budget: €11 million out of €49 million. In return, we guaranteed that we would create about 100 jobs,” says Tim De Kegel of Janssen. Similarly, Pfizer received about €3.8 million from the region for its animal health centre, while Wallonia contributed about 10 percent of the cost of UCB’s biotech plant. Beyond cash support, government provides other convincing incentives for research-based businesses. For

instance, the federal government does not levy tax on regional grants. Also, the effective tax rate on income from patents is just 6.8 percent, a rule that has successfully attracted pharma and biotech businesses to the country. In addition, companies are exempt from paying 75 percent of taxes on their researchers’ wages, encouraging companies to hire qualified workers. “The investment climate for the moment is good,” De Kegel sums up, warning government that businesses want it to stay that way. Among Wallonia’s assets, all companies mention its central location in Europe: “Close to Pfizer’s animal health headquarters in Paris,” says communications director Daniel Van Bellinghen; “Halfway between our markets in Asia and North America,” in the words of UCB spokesman Laurent Schots. Other strengths include the quality of the infrastructure, availability of welltrained workers and a welcoming multicultural environment. Last but not least, Wallonia has available ground to set up or expand activities. For instance, La Louvière is a convenient location for Janssen’s distribution centre, as it is close to Charleroi airport and motorways, yet a safe distance from large, congested cities like Brussels or Antwerp. Janssen’s distribution centre has now reached about 60 percent of its capacity, De Kegel says, adding that the site is already brimming with fresh energy – a tangible display of how investment can affect people’s lives. “The workers there are mainly young people,” the spokesman says. “They’re all very motivated to be part of the operation. It’s really nice to see.”

Testing times

The hunt for new medicines is getting increasingly slow and expensive for the industry. “Twenty years ago you developed a drug, invested in it, then it reached the market after, say, seven years and you had another 13 years before the patent expiry where you could make good money from the drug,” says stefan Gijssels, vicepresident of communications and public affairs for Janssen europe, the Middle east and africa. “now you have less time on the market, so the price of the drug goes up to recoup the investment costs. The cost of research increases but the chance of having a drug approved decreases because the efficacy and safety demands are increasingly high.”

Brussels-based multinational UcB launched its biotech pilot plant in Braine-l’alleud in september

as a result, europe has seen worrying signs of the pharmaceutical industry withdrawing or decreasing investment in recent years. in 2011, for example, Us drug-maker Pfizer closed one of its biggest sites, in sandwich, in the UK, to curb R&d costs. closer to Belgium, Us firm abbott announced in 2010 that it would close its R&d department in Weesp, the netherlands, with the loss of about 500 jobs. But Belgium and Wallonia stand out in this rather bleak panorama. While British giant GlaxosmithKline (GsK) has closed sites in the UK and italy in recent years, the company says that half of the €1 billion it spends on R&d every year is invested directly in Belgium. GsK Biologicals, which creates and produces vaccines, runs three sites in Wallonia: in Rixensart, Wavre and Gembloux. “if you compare investment from major drug companies in the past five years, you see lots of jobs created in Belgium and disinvestment in other eU countries,” says Tim de Kegel, senior director for public affairs and external communications at Janssen Pharmaceutica. “in the netherlands, for instance, there is hardly any pharmaceutical industry left.” To move away from the ailing “blockbuster drug” model based on in-house R&d, pharma companies increasingly rely on smaller research-based companies or joint projects with academia.

The Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan, Wallonia’s government package to boost the region’s economy in select areas, was named after the Us programme launched to rebuild european economies after World War Two. it is worth about €4.5 billion in two phases between 2006 and 2014. The first phase (2006-09) led to the creation of more than 29,000 jobs, including 1,284 researchers. it aimed in particular to create ‘competitiveness poles’, boost research and innovation linked to business and decrease the tax burden on private companies. BioWin, Wallonia’s health cluster created as part of the Marshall Plan in 2006, funds projects that bring business and academia together to develop products such as medicines or medical devices. The industry has praised BioWin’s marketdriven approach, which allows companies to be in the driving seat of R&d projects. wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013




Think small The materials of the future are invisible to the naked eye, but Wallonia is at the forefront of their development BY Senne STarckx


materials, easy to produce and in some cases even ‘intelligent’ (with selfhealing or self-cleaning properties, for example).

Companies like Solvay, ArcelorMittal (formerly Cockerill), AGC Glass Europe (formerly Glaverbel) and Kabelwerk Eupen are internationally known. But the materials of yesterday – think of conventional steel or plastics, traditional glass coatings, silicon for computer chips and solar cells – are not the materials of tomorrow. Today, consumers and the manufacturing industry have much higher demands. Materials have to be environmentally friendly, not made of costly ‘rare earth’

Producing materials with one or more of these properties is impossible if you rely on existing 20th-century techniques. It requires new science that has to be applied from the bottom scale, the microscopic level, up to the macrolevel, or the general, abstract level. The study and manipulation of individual molecules, crystals and in some cases atoms is what nanotechnology is about. For more than 20 years, ‘nanotech’ has boomed, and there is nothing to indicate that its progress will slow in the decades to come.

ince the early industrialisation of Belgium in the 19th century, the Wallonia and Brussels regions have always had a strong tradition in researching and producing innovative materials.


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Since the term was coined in the late 1980s, the marriage of ‘nano’ with ‘technology’ has gained a huge following from scientists, engineers and businessmen. Literally, ‘nano’ means ‘one in a billion’, so one nanometre is one billionth of a metre. That’s way below the scope of optical microscopes – the dimension is comparable to one 75,000th of the thickness of a single human hair. With a microscope that can zoom in to the nanolevel, we would be able to see all the individual molecules. We would also notice that at this level, materials don’t seem as smooth as they do on the macrolevel – on the contrary, they are full of irregularities. And the thing that would strike us the most: even with

very dense materials, the empty space between the particles is vast. In 1959, American physicist Richard Feynman – one of the most eminent scientists of the past century – mentioned this fact in a lecture that carried the title There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom. With his lecture, he planted the seed of nanotechnology in the minds of his fellow scientists. Because it’s obvious: plenty of room at the nanolevel means there is ‘freedom’ to put particles in another place, or even to put new atoms in the empty spaces between the existing particles. In theory, nanotech was born. However, it took a while before anything practical came out of Feynman’s

nanotech seed. Only in the late 1980s did scientists manage to build devices that were able to manipulate individual particles on the nanolevel. Perhaps the most famous example is the logo of computer manufacturer IBM, spelled with 35 xenon atoms by a so-called scanning tunnelling microscope, or STM. This period also saw another ‘kickstart’ event for nanotech: the development of fullerenes, man-made molecules composed entirely of carbon atoms – of which the nanotube and the buckyball are the most famous examples. Fullerenes were the first of the ‘nanomaterials’, materials made or manipulated from the bottom to the macrolevel (and sometimes from

scratch) with numerous properties that are pushing material science into a new era. There are already plenty of ‘nanoproducts’ on the market, like sun cream with nanoparticles (for better protection) or washing machines with silver particles (to kill bacteria). The range of possible applications of nanomaterials is infinite, but it’s also very high-tech, so industries that want to keep up with the pace of technological progress need both the know-how to study nanotechnology and the facilities to produce the nanomaterials of the future. In 2003, after an open call from the government of Wallonia, NanoWal wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013




Being part of NanoWal is really beneficial if you’re a nanolab. Thanks to us, the visibility of the sector has increased BerNard NysTeN

was set up. It’s a network that connects nanotech laboratories in Wallonia and Brussels. One of the concerns of the founders was the lack of visibility of nano-related research in their region, especially towards industry. “Our structure favours stronger interactions between actors in the nano-field,” says Bernard Nysten (pictured above), president of NanoWal and ‘nanoprofessor’ at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Louvain-la-Neuve. “It allows us to share facilities and improve overall knowledge as well as technology transfer. NanoWal connects more than thirty laboratories, most of them tied to academic institutions. You could say that NanoWal is a huge nanotechnology lab itself, with the best equipment at its disposal and manned by 250 highly experienced researchers.” Two years ago, NanoWal was granted the legal status of a nonprofit organisation. Nysten explains: “NanoWal doesn’t finance research projects, because we don’t have a big budget at our disposal. But being part of NanoWal is really beneficial if you’re a nanolab – financially, too. Thanks to us, the visibility of the sector has increased, and when we apply together for grants or funding – at the regional or European level – we have a much higher chance of getting our projects approved.” 16

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The partner laboratories inside NanoWal are almost all tied to a university or academic institution. Industry doesn’t play a role yet inside the network. “The research done by our people is mainly fundamental,” explains Nysten. “Their first aim is to get a publication in a peer-reviewed journal or to get a patent. They’re not looking to develop an industrial or commercial application as a priority, or to set up a spin-off by themselves.” However, there are some exceptions. NanoCyl, for example, is a private company that is also a partner in NanoWal. The company, a spin-off of the universities of Liège and Namur, with headquarters in Sambreville, produces carbon nanotubes. Nysten explains: “These nanotubes can be integrated in new types of mixed nanomaterials, so-called composites. Mixed with polymers, these nanotubes yield materials that are, depending on the precise mixture, extremely lightweight but strong, fire-resistant and totally flexible.” Within NanoWal, every laboratory has its own specialisation. Nysten’s lab at UCL specialises in scanning probe microscopies, a technology that allows you to zoom in on the tiniest details of materials and to study how adjustments at the nanolevel can change properties

on the macrolevel. UCL also has very well-equipped cleanroom facilities (manipulation of materials on the nanolevel has to occur in a dustfree environment) called WinFab. “Actually, thanks to our membership of NanoWal, we were able to get funding from the regional government to renew our cleanrooms and adapt them to modern standards,” says Nysten. “The government in Namur agreed because they knew that other research groups, from other universities, would benefit from our facilities.” NanoWal wants to tighten the bonds with industry. “By bringing together all the academic nanolabs in Wallonia, we have definitely increased the visibility of fundamental nanotechnology research towards industrial partners, but we want them to work with us, side-by-side in the lab,” says Nysten. “By concentrating on fundamental research, we don’t really explore new industrial or commercial applications. This might change if industry joins our network.” Six years ago, the Walloon region saw the birth of the Marshall Plan for its industry and private sector. The plan provided the region with several ‘clusters of competitiveness’ that would promote innovation in a different economic area. The Pôle MecaTech

Sirris Sirris, the collective centre of the Belgian technology industry, also has a nanotech division. at the Science Park at the University of Liège, Sirris performs research into the integration of nanopowder in new composite nanomaterials. Specifically, Sirris works on metal nanocomposites that share – thanks to the integration of nanopowder – properties like very high electrical and thermal conductibility, which has numerous applications: for example, in spaceflight technology.

Materia nova Materia nova is a non-profit organisation, with its head office in the heart of the Initialis Science Park in Mons. It employs more than 60 highly qualified researchers and technicians. It aims to work with businesses to build materials of the future, but also to improve those currently in use. Specifically, Materia nova works on the development of processes to improve the quality of thin films deposited on complex substrates – for example, high-value glass. This is nanotech at its purest.

cluster (for mechanical engineering) is one of them. Inside this cluster, there is a specific area for nanotechnology, an effort to combine all the knowledge and expertise available in Wallonia and Brussels to push forward R&D in nanotech. “We support nano-related companies by several means: by searching for the expertise and partnership needed to develop their project, by giving assistance in applications for funding, by helping with administration,”

says Anthony Van Putte of Pôle MecaTech. “An example: for the company Nanopôle, we helped develop a collaborative project to produce nanopowder (loose nanoparticles) by the atmospheric plasma process and to build a production line. The nanopowder produced by Nanopôle can be used in numerous applications like smart materials and intelligent coatings. We also assisted this company during the procedure for getting appropriate funding.”

 WWW.nano.Be  WWW.SIrrIS.Be  WWW.PoLeMecaTech.Be  WWW.MaTerIa-nova.coM 

Pôle MecaTech MecaTech gave life to: ■ 30 research projects (including four related to nanotechnology) ■ 8 investment projects ■ 15 training projects

wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013




Puggy return


wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013


he Brussels-based pop/rock trio bounce back onto the the music scene with punchy new single To Win The World (cover, pictured). It is but a precursor to their third album due to be released in January 2013. Continuing the tradition of sell-out tours, the band return to Belgium to perform at Brussels venue Ancienne Belgique next year. The February date may be already full, but two further concerts are scheduled for April. It will be a welcome reunion for fans and British singer Mathew Irons, French bassist Romain Descampe and Swedish drummer Egil ‘Ziggy’ Franzen, a pan-European trio who have made Brussels their home.


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Michael Young Michael Young is a British-born designer who divides his time between Brussels and Hong Kong, where he creates technically meticulous yet playful products and furniture. Young was a guest lecturer at Design September in Brussels in 2012. www.Michael-Young.coM

How did you end up in Brussels? Tired of London, I moved to Iceland and fell in love with a girl, but had lots going on in Europe and was constantly on planes. I have the Kortrijk Biennale to thank for introducing me to Belgium, because I was guest of honour in 2002 and ended up buying a loft in Brussels. I like the idea of having a large space and Brussels could offer me this. I also like the food and beer culture and also the lack of arrogance, the down-to-earth nature of the locals. Can you define Belgian design? I honestly cannot; across the board it’s quite eclectic with many styles. It’s not Nordic, Dutch or French, it’s like a testing ground for a hundred styles, but I guess that’s due to the richness of borders and identities. What is your personal design ethos and how do the Far East and Europe influence your work? I believe in innovation; design is for business, anything else is art or craft and the Far East helps me be innovative. My English roots are creative so I find balance in both worlds.  What do you like to do in Brussels? I love my apartment in Rue de Senne; the building is beautiful. I used to love the Spinnekopke but they changed the furniture, which ruined it for me. But I love the restaurant Taverne du Passage because of the food and the waiters. I love the people drinking wine and eating seafood at the Vismet, because they always make me feel like I am coming home. I love Elvis Pompilio hats, which I have just started buying. I like BaseDesign, because their approach to life is like my own. I love the Sablon because it still feels so grand but accessible. I’m English and like a tourist still; I love all the small collector shops which most cities have lost because the rent is too high. Can you reveal any future projects? We are completing a new car, the Mini Moke, which comes out in June. It’s made in Shanghai, which I love, too; I spend a lot of time there.


wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013

I like the idea of having a large space and Brussels could offer me this MIchael Young

elric Petit Elric Petit is one of three designers behind the award-winning Swiss studio BIGGAME. Brussels-born Petit studied at Namur’s IATA and La Cambre in Brussels. Today he is head of the industrial design bachelor department at ECAL/University of Art and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland

You have an international career. How important is it today for designers to look beyond their own country’s borders? The two schools where I studied in Belgium gave me an incredible training. Afterwards, for a designer, it is crucial to move around because of the need to visit companies and factories. I think travel comes with the job. With BIG-GAME we travel enormously because we work, among others, with companies in France, Italy, Japan and China.

The rich heritage of modern architecture in Brussels is very inspiring for us elrIc PeTIT

As a Belgian, what do you think you contribute in your collaboration with your French and Swiss colleagues at BIG-GAME? The fact that we have three nationalities is clearly a strength. Grégoire Jeanmonod is Swiss and Augustin Scott de Martinville is French and grew up in China. We each bring something from our respective cultures. Each time I travel to Belgium I meet and learn an enormous amount from passionate collectors and antique dealers, who have an in-depth knowledge of subjects such as furniture, objects or architecture. The rich heritage of modern architecture in Brussels is also very inspiring for us. The trio is known for its industrial and experimental design. How would you define its design ethos? Everything connected with industrialisation fascinates us. As for the experimental dimension, that can be condensed into a few key words which can be applied throughout the production process: elementary geometry, economy of resources, functionality and the playful aspect of an object. As a teacher, what advice would you give to a young person from Brussels or Wallonia who is planning a career in design? Do everything seriously without taking yourself too seriously. I can’t offer anything better than this saying of Pierre Keller, the former director of ECAL in Lausanne. In your spare time in Brussels and Belgium, what are your favourite restaurants, activities and arts venues? In Belgium I like the Musée du Grand-Hornu in the Hainaut region, while in Brussels I like to visit the antique dealer Jean-Claude Jacquemart, the clothing shop Own, Poissonerie Dangel and obviously Sandwicherie Au Suisse!. wallonia and brussels magazine WINTEr 2012/2013




Cultural renaissance Mons counts down to the coveted European Capital of Culture title in 2015 BY Sarah CrEw


n January 2015, all eyes will be on Mons as it becomes European Capital of Culture. The Hainaut capital is undergoing a massive transformation as a tantalising cultural programme is accompanied by intensive urban regeneration. Heritage sites are being converted and gleaming contemporary structures are under construction. They include a Santiago Calatravadesigned railway station and a congress centre by New York architects Daniel Libeskind Studio. Luxury hotels will contribute to the tourism and economic boost resulting


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from this prestigious award – a first for Wallonia. The city has been working tirelessly since winning the title in 2010. And by choosing the theme ‘Where technology meets culture’, it plays to its strengths: artistic heritage and a future that looks increasingly digital. Until now, Mons has been off the radar of weekend trippers. But that is set to change, with the whole province, extending to La Louvière, Charleroi and Tournai, expected to benefit from the cultural spotlight. For a region working hard to

overcome post-industrial recession, the European label is an overdue accolade. Besides strengthening Mons’s national and international reputation, the year-long event is being carefully constructed around local participation, especially from children. Mons is committed to reinventing itself as a vibrant city of first-rate museums, arts centres, theatre and festivals as well as restaurants, shops and bars.


Leading the Mons 2015 project is Yves Vasseur, director of the Manège contemporary living arts centre and a major figure in the Mons and cross-border hainaut/ northern France arts scene. what does the European Capital of Culture mean for Mons? It is an incredible opportunity to enhance Mons’s cultural, social and economic development. That’s the reason behind the theme ‘where technology meets culture’. It means Mons becomes the place to be for cultural partnerships and high-level investments, joining Google, Microsoft, Cisco, hewlett Packard and more than 100 start-ups that have created almost 2,000 jobs in three years.

how does the banner ‘Mons, where technology meets culture’ run through the programme? Firstly, digital techniques amalgamate performance, visual arts, music and architecture into one creative cluster. Secondly, most major artists use virtual pictures, settings and sounds which echo our theme. and finally, many innovative companies, particularly those involved in social affairs and gaming, will invest in culture within the context of 2015. The complete programme is due to be unveiled during 2014 in order to maintain suspense and interest, though we may reveal an occasional event that depends on the participation of local people.

how are you planning on enthusing locals and visitors?

Yves vasseur

■ Van Gogh in the Borinage The Birth of an artist The celebrated Dutch Impressionist worked as a pasteur in hainaut’s coal basin, the Borinage, from 1878 to 1880, and works loaned by three major museums will show how this period influenced his artistic work. Visitors can also visit his home in Cuesmes, which is to be renovated. a further tribute is Vincente Minnelli’s movie, Lust for Life, which was partially filmed in the hornu region in 1965. The film, starring Kirk Douglas, is being specially restored for a world premiere screening and will be accompanied by a documentary on the shooting of the film with the help of memories from locals.

■ Verlaine, Cell N° 2. Poetic Turbulences French poet Paul Verlaine spent two years in Mons prison after firing two shots at his lover, fellow enfant terrible of French poetry arthur rimbaud, in a drunken jealous rage. Verlaine wrote some of his major works during this period (1873-75), including Romances sans paroles. The exhibition also covers his relationship with Belgium’s literary and artistic world.

■ The Man, the Dragon and the Death while George and the Dragon are popular symbols in Mons, particularly during the annual Ducasse folklore celebration, the aim of this exhibition is to show how the legend is interpreted in other European countries. accompanying it are commissioned contemporary works by Luc Tuymans and David Claerbout.

For the European Capital of Culture to succeed it needs to attract prestigious European artists as well as local ones, plus draw locals and tourists from a 250km area. Our publicity campaign has to confront this and work on an international level, via a strong presence in the major European tourism fairs, and on a local level by engaging as many people as possible. For example, in 2013 we are going to create ‘embassies’ in Mons and other towns that will not only inform but also encourage participation.

how do you see the future of Mons after 2015? we are very optimistic about the post-2015 legacy. we will leave a series of infrastructures that are the right dimension for the city and their future use and finance are already in place. The look of the city will have profoundly changed and will be much more attractive and dynamic. The cultural buzz generated over the year, and its economic repercussions, will permanently revitalise the city.


It means Mons becomes the place to be for cultural partnerships and highlevel investements

Major exhibitions from the Mons 2015 Foundation

Yves Vasseur wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013




A rare slice of life The art of charcuterie in Wallonia is growing in popularity By SArAh CreW


allonia’s dense forests, river valleys and cool, moist climate have been rearing flavoursome traditional animal breeds and producing artisan charcuterie and cold cuts for centuries. During the festive season they take centre stage: no celebratory spread is complete without a resplendent ham, glazed terrine or saucisson. Consumers are also returning to the butcher’s block in an appreciation of local fare that respects nature and flavour. And across the region, small, mainly family-run businesses are responding to the demand with a new food savviness.  WWW.LAWALLONIeDeSSAVeUrS.Be

La Corbeille Pascal Simons dips a finger into the massive bowl of bright green sausage meat, testing the seasoning for house speciality boudin vert. Satisfied, he closes the lid and lets the machine stir up the mixture of white sausage and curly kale. “We follow our own recipe, but it only takes the distraction of a telephone call to miss an ingredient,” he admits. It is this fine attention to detail and taste that has forged the reputation of family business La Corbeille in the Walloon Brabant village of Orp-le-Grand. 24

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Not only has the reputed boudin vert had its own brotherhood since 1988, the butcher/delicatessen business turns local livestock into the finest cured meats and charcuterie. Their proudly homemade recipes include traditional and artisan pork brawn, pâtés, bacon and hams, smoked and cooked, in addition to the famous boudins that are made all year round for high-end Brussels deli Rob. Simons works with his father, Modeste, who founded the business in 1968, and two sons Antoine and Baptiste. The factory shop on the banks of the Petite Gette benefits from a micro-climate necessary for curing meats. To widen the family repertoire, Simons has taken courses in Gaume, the heart of the Ardennes charcuterie production in Luxembourg province. The satisfaction of maintaining these traditions, albeit with the help of new machinery, is all about bringing pleasure to his many loyal customers. “For me, it is all about taste,” he says. “Even when I am out in the woods, I am picking objects up, tasting and smelling them.”

Salaisons G Blaise The story behind Florenville institution Blaise is not only four generations of

one family, it is essentially a female one. Maurice Blaise may have founded the company in 1910 in the tourist village in Luxembourg province, but since then it has largely been presided over by a matriarchal trio. His greatgranddaughter Stéphanie Fontenoy heads the company with her aunt, while grandmother Andrée, 92, still helps out in the shop. While excelling in traditional sausages and pâtés, Blaise is also known for its hams and smoked products. The specialities are Gaumais Saucisson (soon to be a protected geographic label) and Orval beer saucisson. The 15-strong business is preparing for end-of-year festivities with a range of seasonal game pâtés and gift baskets. The strength of the company, according to Fontenoy, is “steadfastly maintaining the quality of our products”, despite modernising the manufacturing process to meet EU standards. “We have kept our know-how and still use beech and oak shavings for smoking.” She also believes the relatively small size of their operation enables the company to be flexible and adapt products according to customer demand. “Considering today’s bad eating habits, I think many people are returning to regional and

modeste (left) and Pascal Simons making boudin at La Corbeille

quality produce. And while we follow traditional recipes, we try to follow healthier eating trends, for example less salt and little less smoking.

Detry One of the largest companies in Wallonia dedicated to pork products is this 50-year-old family enterprise. Based in Aubel, Liège province, the veritable empire (1,400 employees) includes Aubel, which makes traditional charcuterie and represents 40 percent of total turnover. Subsidiaries run by younger Detry brothers include Bel’Ardennes, which produces cured meats in Bastogne. The focus is on quality products from animals correctly reared, fed and farmed. Authentic flavours are achieved by applying state-of-the-art facilities to traditional practices such as beech sawdust in their smoke-houses. Seasonal products are black and white boudins with added flavourings including cabbage, nuts, leek, grape,

apple and speculoos, along with duck mousse and game terrine.

Salaisons de la Sémois Ornately and seasonally decorated pâtés and terrines are the speciality of the Bouillon company, in the Sémois valley in Luxembourg province. The small but flexible business offers up to 65 recipes for pâté in addition to charcuterie and saucisson.

La Salaison du Condroz Professing a passion for cured meats, Maison Marcotty makes products under the regional label La Salaison du Condroz in Liège province. The four-generation family business has preserved age-old methods to flavour cold cuts. It has large drying rooms and allows time for the maturing and salting processes to make top quality pork loin, shoulder, bacon, lardons and ham.

Montenauer The jewel in the crown of Wallonia’s charcuterie, and Belgium’s answer to

Parma, is the Ardennes ham. Originally the result of a wet curing method when the meat was marinated for days in herbs, vinegar and salt before being hung to dry in draughty attics, it is now cured in brine and smoked before being left to mature. The ham is always on the bone and comes from naturally reared pigs. Montenauer, in the eastern German-speaking canton, smokes its hams with beech shavings and juniper berries for at least one month. Maturing periods vary from four up to nine months. It is possible to visit the factory near Saint-Vith and buy their gift-boxed hams and sausages.

 WWW.LA-COrBeILLe.Be  WWW.SALAISONS-BLAISe.Be  WWW.DeTry.COm  WWW.SALAISONS-SemOIS.Be  WWW.mArCOTTy.COm  WWW.mONTeNAUer.COm wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013




Back to the future Ph De GoBert


wallonia and brussels magazine winter 2012/2013


ravelling into space is MAC’s tenth anniversary exhibition Art, science & fiction at Wallonia’s cultural powerhouse Grand-Hornu. The multidisciplinary show of 70 modern and contemporary works is a fascinating exploration of fantastic art represented in film, photo, painting, sculpture and installation. All are inspired

by science fiction and all take the visitor on a mysterious odyssey that surprises, informs and entertains. They include Liège artist Frédéric Platéus’ Solid Rock (pictured), an automotive paint and stainless steel structure created in 2010. Sharing the same theme for the first time is the Hainaut site’s design wing Grand-Hornu Images with Space

Oddity, design/fiction (until March 10). The two exhibitions link up neatly with Lille 3000 Fantastic, a programme of events in the northern French city and Eurométropole region. UNtil FebrUary 17

 www.mac-s.Be

wallonia and brussels magazine winter 2012/2013




Anima magic Cartoons aren’t just for kids, as this sophisticated and well-respected festival proves

lePArC DistriBution

BY GeorGio VAlentino

the Gruffalo’s Child released in December 2012


nimation gets short shrift as an art form. It’s often dismissed as light entertainment for children and young-at-heart adults, but there is far more to the medium than Tex Avery. There’s also Fantastic Planet, Waltz with Bashir and so many other mature films. The 21st century has been a particularly exciting time for the form. Digital technology affords ever more artists ever more tools with which to create ever more motion pictures. More importantly, the medium is finally being recognised by the film industry as a legitimate (read: lucrative) enterprise. “Animation is flourishing like never before,” Doris Cleven tells me. Cleven is co-director of the Anima Festival, 28

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dedicated to – you guessed it – animated film. The annual Brussels forum was light years ahead of the curve. Founded in 1981, it has been celebrating animation in all its variety – from the highbrow to the not-so-highbrow and everything in between – for over three decades. In that time, Anima has grown into one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world and a major attraction on the capital’s cultural calendar. It’s even got a prize to prove it: the festival was voted the best international event at this year’s VisitBrussels Awards.

A glance at the programme explains what all the fuss is about. This 10day feast of international animation includes features, children’s movies, student and professional productions, animated documentaries, commercials and music videos. But most important are the animated shorts. “Shorts are at the heart of the festival,” Cleven says. “That’s where you really see the latest techniques and tendencies developing, so that’s always the most interesting part of the programme, especially for young professionals.”

Anima has extended its reach into the hinterland, too, with simultaneous mini-festivals in Liège, Namur, Charleroi, Mons and Ghent.

Whatever their length, the careful selection of the films screened at Anima is another factor in the festival’s success. Some 1,300 candidates were entered

renAuD FAnG

February 8-17 Flagey Place sainte-Croix, Brussels

 www.AnimAFestiVAl.Be

over the course of this year. A gang of four, including Cleven and Anima founder Philippe Moins, spent just as long watching them and winnowing their numbers down to just over 100. It’s a delicate balance, as Cleven describes it, a balance between popular features, which can draw the big crowds, and unexpected gems with which the curious are rewarded once they get in the door. “We want to please the audience, of course,” she says, “but we also want to show them something new.” Crulic is an example of that other sort of film, the one that audiences might not recognise by name but will be glad all the same to discover. The featurelength animated documentary tells the story of a Romanian man who died in a Polish prison in 2008. Its visual style is every bit as provocative as its politically charged content. Romanian director Anca Damian brings together several techniques including animated photographs, digital cut-outs, stopmotion and traditional, hand-drawn animation. In addition to being enjoyed by the public, participating films are in the running for Anima honours. Superlatives in each category are chosen by a jury of critics and fellow film-makers, natives and international invitees. In many cases the artists themselves are present to get feedback

from a flesh-and-blood audience. “Most of the other animation festivals are for insiders only,” Cleven explains, “so film-makers really appreciate the open dialogue at Anima.” Every year the festival selects a country (or three) to spotlight with a retrospective programme. This year the focus is on India, Italy and our neighbour Luxembourg, about whom we can truly say, “Size doesn’t matter.” The tiny country leaves an outsized footprint in the live-action and animated film worlds. Even though this is very much a film festival, visitors will find plenty of action even without the lights and camera.

Most animation festivals are for insiders only, so film-makers really appreciate the dialogue at Anima Doris Cleven

Exhibitions and concerts supply the bonus entertainment while public lectures and workshops respond to the more subdued demand for edification. A professional conference called Futuranima is also held in parallel. Another regular Anima event, Animated Night, has functioned as an unofficial closing party for many years now. The late-night celebration begins late on the last Saturday of the festival and stretches into the wee hours of the morning, with live bands and DJs performing between special screenings. Fans have the opportunity to literally step into the shoes of their favourite characters during Anima’s popular Cosplay competition. The Cosplay phenomenon is a recent development in fandom. Contestants, done up in home-made, anime-inspired costumes, are evaluated according to strict criteria: imagination, execution and, sometimes, the décolleté on display. The future of animation, and by extension the Anima Festival, is as bright as ever. “Animation is being used more and more, across the spectrum of media,” Cleven enthuses. “Animation departments are popping up in schools everywhere. I have faith in the new generation of animators. They will continue to develop original worlds for us.” wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013




Winter warmers: indoor entertainment on stage and outdoor festive cheer at Christmas markets

turned to him as a compass to the north after Soviet tanks invaded Prague in 1968 and he began to bear the full brunt of censorship. His tribute to him is Jacques and his Master, his only play, which he loosely based on Diderot’s classic novel Jacques le Fataliste. An aristocrat and his manservant set out on a journey together, swapping stories and smashing universal truths along the way. This French-language version is enormous fun and stars Yves Pignot and Nicolas Briançon, who doubles up as director. WHAT? JACQUES ET SON MAÎTRE WHEN? JANUARY 22-27 WHERE? LOUVAIN-LA-NEUVE




THEATRE CINCALI! What happened to the 50,000 young men who left the sunshine of their native Italy in the years after World War Two to come and work in Walloon coal mines? Some died, a few found their way back home, but most ended up staying here, living a life of misery and putting up with daily taunts and humiliations. The letters they wrote to their loved ones are the subject of this harrowing one-man-show narrated by a postman, the only literate member of an impoverished community in the Puglia region. Written by Mario Perrotta, the play premiered in Rome in 2003 and has already clocked up more than 500 performances in Italy. This Frenchlanguage adaptation starring the magnetic Hervé Guerrisi will make you smile and cry – don’t miss it. At the Théâtre Blocry, then in Habay, Silly and Namur.

celebration of children’s theatre is a lifeline for families stuck in Belgium during the Christmas break. This year’s edition marks its 30th anniversary and features an endearing modern tale that’s halfway between Tom Thumb and Italo Calvino’s The Baron In The Trees (Bonne Chance); half song recital, half one-woman show packed with funny/sad love stories (Love); and a so-called ‘magical theatre play’ on nature and the fragility of it that is both thoughtprovoking and non-verbal (The Wood). Take your pick.

CHILDREN PREHISTORYDO IT YOURSELF Make fire, cut flints, tan hides: this handson exhibition at Brussels’ family-friendly Natural Science Museum will teach children and their parents basic skills our forefathers the cavemen would have needed just to survive, long before the days of H&M and the internet. Not only will your kids have tremendous fun, they will also learn loads, including not to take our modern creature comforts for granted. WHAT? PREHISTORY – DO IT YOURSELF WHEN? UNTIL MAY 26 WHERE? BRUSSELS

CHRISTMAS MARKETS BRUSSELS Don’t look for the Christmas tree – it’s been replaced with an illuminated steel structure that will bathe the Grand’Place in ethereal light throughout the festive season. This Xmas 3, as it is called, is the centrepiece of Winter Wonders, Brussels’ seasonal bash which balances tradition and innovation with the usual wooden chalets, food stalls and ice-skating rink but also world music concerts, contemporary art displays and a stunning reproduction of China’s Terracotta Army. Forming a two-mile circuit across the city centre, the market is regularly touted by British tour operators as the most original in Europe. The coolest, too, they might add. WHAT? WINTER WONDERS WHEN? UNTIL JANUARY 6 WHERE? BRUSSELS

JACQUES ET SON MAÎTRE Witty and provocative, a dazzling wordsmith and tireless innovator, 18th-century French writer and philosopher Denis Diderot embodies the spirit of the Englightenment. Little wonder Czech writer Milan Kundera


wallonia and brussels magazine WINTER 2012/2013

NOËL AU THÉÂTRE With 25 shows spread out among nearly 50 venues in Brussels and Wallonia, this

LIÈGE This is not so much a Christmas market as a genuine village, with some 200 pretty chalets, winding streets that invite strolling around and a genial, easy-going atmosphere. Russia is the theme and will be the subject of an exhibition a short walk from the market proper. Definitely worth a peep, if you manage to tear yourself away from all the baubles and cards, mouth-watering sausage stands and heart-warming shots of pékét, the local gin. WHAT? VILLAGE DE NOËL WHEN? UNTIL DECEMBER 30 WHERE? PLACE SAINT-LAMBERT

HUY Get tipsy on mulled wine in one of Wallonia’s loveliest towns, which is steeped in Christmas magic this festive season, with fairy lights, a giant Christmas tree, an ice rink and bustling chalets. Not to forget Santa’s house which, everyone knows, is in Huy. Your children will have stars in their eyes, and so will you. WHAT? PLAISIRS D’HIVER WHEN? UNTIL JANUARY 6 WHERE? GRAND PLACE

DURBUY Crowds may gather in one of the prettiest villages in Wallonia every weekend, but the festive season is an additional sparkling attraction. Chalet holders are strictly vetted so no tat is allowed, only artisan fare and objects. Add a Christmas crèche, carols and ice-skating and you have a magical winter scene. WHAT? MARKET WHEN? UNTIL JANUARY 6 WHERE? TOWN CENTRE/ROI BAUDOUIN PARK

IN MEMoRIAM HERVÉ GUERRISI If acting is putting on a mask and slipping into someone else’s identity, then acting is not entirely what Hervé Guerrisi is up to in Cíncali!, a one-man-show about the mass migration of Italian miners to Belgium in the 1940s and 50s. The subject is singularly close to home for Guerrisi, a third-generation Italian who grew up in Brussels but was urged throughout his childhood never to forget that he was the “grandson of an Italian coalminer”. His granddad was one of the 50,000 young Italians who moved to the Borinage as a last-ditch effort to make a living for themselves and their families. The play was written a decade ago and has been a huge hit in Italy. A magnetic and versatile actor, Guerrisi, 31, set out in search of his roots and travelled to his family’s home town in southern Italy. He translated the text into French himself, tweaking it here and there to make it more relevant for Belgian audiences. His intense performance pours more than a little of himself into Pinuccio the postman who, as the only member of his community who can read and write, acts as a necessary go-between between the absent men and their loved ones. The play, Guerrisi says, is all about keeping these people’s memory alive. “How strange that things keep repeating themselves,” he says. “We experience disasters, we make a big deal out of them, and then we recreate all the conditions for these disasters to happen again.” wallonia and brussels magazine winter 2012/2013



Create > Exchange > Grow

> > Wallonia




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/ Belgium

> The assets for growth


Excellence at the heart of Europe

/ Belgium

Excellence at the heart of Europe

Financial incentives for exports and investment, lower business taxes, easy access to capital – assets for in growth > The all boosting growth Wallonia. Financial incentives for exports and investment, lower business taxes, easy access to capital – all boosting growth in Wallonia.

> A culture of partnership

draws on an extensive cultureexcellence of partnership > AWallonia’s

network ofexcellence highly skilled workforce and R&D Wallonia’s draws on an extensive units dedicated to skilled innovation network of highly workforce and R&D units dedicated to innovation

competitive region region >> AA competitive

Transport and and logistics, logistics, aeronautics aeronautics and and aerospace, agribusiness, mechanical aerospace, engineering,agribusiness, life sciences,mechanical environmental engineering, sciences, environmental technologies:life 6 competitiveness clusters and several other high-tech clusters clusters put Wallonia technologies: 6 competitiveness and at the forefront of progress. several other high-tech clusters put Wallonia at the forefront of progress.

3/10/12 17:15


File: nanotechnology

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