3 questions to Tom Vanham (CEO of LRM)
What will LRM bring to Industrya?
We will be able to share our many years of know-how and expertise in incubation and acceleration not only with the fund overall, but specifically also with the start-ups who will be part of it. At the same time, in recent years, we have also invested heavily in what we call smart property. We have set up many campuses and incubators, and now we’re also going to establish a specific Smart Manufacturing Campus at Thor Park in Genk. The plan is for the site to effectively accommodate Industrya as well, so that it can immediately be integrated into the new local ecosystem to be deployed there. There is, of course, also the link with EnergyVille, which we can offer to Industrya. EnergyVille is a partnership between VITO, imec and the Universities of Leuven and Hasselt. These knowledge centers combined with this wealth of on-site experience will actually allow us to support the start-ups in an academic or more scientific manner.
What kind of candidate are you looking for with Industrya?
I think what is needed above all is common sense, being honest with oneself, so as to avoid entertaining grand or unrealistic ideas, while at the same time trying to remain down-to-earth. Saying, "OK, these are our ambitions", but also making a clear distinction between what one thinks is possible and what is actually possible. In other words, keeping both feet on the ground, while being ambitious without getting swept up in foolish ideas. That would seem to me to be sound and meaningful advice.
Any advice for those who will submit their application?
No waiting, no stalling, just do it. We now have an ecosystem, a financial solution, and a fund at our disposal. There are partners who prefer supporting the emergence of ideas and allowing them to reach a certain level of maturity. By all means let’s do so. This applies in particular to young or not-so-young entrepreneurs who are just starting out. And also to entrepreneurs who work within a larger organization such as John Cockerill. Let those people just take the initiative, let them work out an idea in the context of entrepreneurship and use it to start their own company if they want to. It would be ideal if we could activate or incentivize a good number of people to try it out. If it doesn’t work, no worries. The world hasn’t come to an end, but just try it. And if it works, that would be great and it would also be an added value for you as a person and for the team around you, as well as for the economy in general, and for the whole region and the country in particular, and it would even enable Europe to reassert its position as a frontrunner in industrial developments.