Interview of Koen Van Loo (CEO of SFPI-FPIM)
Why did SFPI-FPIM decide to invest in Industrya?
Firstly, the John Cockerill expertise, it's their initiative, so for us it was important to join forces with the private sector, but the private sector that knows what it’s doing. And also the fact that we’ve been able to create a team of all-public investors who are often co-investors for the SFPI, who try to facilitate both private initiative and the initiative of our regional colleagues. Obviously the scope, the focus of the fund appeals to us because it's a perfect match, so to speak, with our strategy as well. We at the SFPI believe that the energy transition will be a major challenge in coming years, and so we hope that, with this Industrya initiative, we will help improve Belgium's position.
Are you also bringing expertise?
More of a network, I would say, I’m being modest. We are a small team of expertise. We are not experts in every field. In money matters, yes, we are investors. We contribute our financial competence and a network, I’d say, which can also be important for the financing of the companies receiving the investment. We know many other investors for the later development phases of the portfolio companies. So that's what we bring to the table. Less so the industry 4.0 expertise. For that, we really rely on John Cockerill and the network, yes.
Industrya’s themes will be Industry 4.0, new materials, renewable energies. Are these themes that are important to you?
As I said before, we at SFPI are convinced that the energy transition will be one of the major challenges in the coming years. I think everyone agrees that renewable energy is the way forward. So, yes, yes, new materials, that fits very, very well with our strategy as well. Moreover, it was a sector we had little to do with until now. So it's a great opportunity and we are very positive about the results this fund will generate in a few years.
If you have any advice to give anyone who would like to submit a project?
Well, I think that the best advice is to always start from your own vision, don't make concessions, don't make concessions at this stage, there’s a team behind you offering coaching and guidance. If there is something to improve, start from your own idea, your own development, no concessions, it's too early at this stage, and don't hesitate, you have to just go for it.
What are the qualities of a good project for Industrya?
Innovative, futureproof, if I can put it that way. And a team in the background, which is not closed but open-minded enough to also listen to advice, you can't know everything, especially here, there is a team that is not just there with the money but is there with advice, but you have to be willing to listen.
Industrya in one word? The difficult question.