Interview of Sébastien Durieux (Vice-President of SRIW)
So what was the trigger, what made you decide to invest in the Industrya project?
Well first of all, it was the John Cockerill group, which is familiar to us all. It’s an important group in Wallonia. And for us, as a public investment company working on behalf of Wallonia, it’s a truly important group that we couldn’t, I would say, not support as part of this project.
And then you have this quite original aspect, because it isn’t just an investment fund, which is very familiar to us, it's a profession we know well, as you also have this notion of incubation, of support; all in one. So as I said, it's quite original, it's innovative. So we were interested in being part of that and seeing how these different elements could be combined and work together to try to take projects to another level.
So what do you, as the SRIW, bring to the project?
First of all, with our W.IN.G team, which is our team specialized in digital, in Deep-tech technology, we will be bringing to the project a team that has specific knowledge of supporting and especially of financing up-and-coming companies. Because the SRIW is first and foremost about project financing, and therefore it will enable startups to meet the people who know the financiers, who know what it takes to raise funds, how to go about it, what you need to know. It will enable them to meet the investment funds we work with, who are sometimes our shareholders or partners. It will enable companies or projects to measure themselves against these funds. This will help them to learn what they need to do, what they need to change, improve, and then we, on our side, can provide funding alongside Industrya, there are also plans to finance projects that have reached a critical size. As the SRIW focuses on medium to large projects. As projects develop and thrive, they need more resources, which we will be able to find for them.
The SRIW is also putting five million on the table...
Absolutely, we are making €five million available like the other partners. For incubation projects, for new projects, but we also know that we will be able to support them in the scale-up phase. We will be able to support them if the projects grow and need more resources.
So the areas supported Industrya are industry 4.0, renewable energies, new materials... Are these topics important to you?
It's true that we finance almost all sectors of activity, but there’s no doubt that we will become a large industrial base that has no choice but to modernize, because industry today is complicated, it’s a sector where international competition is fierce. And so we need an industry that is at the cutting edge, I would say, of innovation. Which is why the 4.0 industry approaches are obviously very attractive. New energy, we are very much involved in the processes of renewable energy production, and also supporting companies in their energy transition; this is something that we’ve included in our five-year plan, in our strategic plan. Supporting companies to harness the energy transition. And industrial companies are by nature very energy-consuming, so they also need to improve their energy performance. And so this is something that is really important for us.
Industrya, in one word?
Oh, that's a tough one. I would say it's innovative, innovative and innovative. Innovative in its model and innovation in its objectives.
If you had a piece of advice to give to anyone keen to submit a project?
Answer - I think you have to get started. This is true of all startups, you shouldn't hesitate to get started because, what’s more, with this project, the entrepreneurs or project carriers will not only find financing but also incubation and support. And that's often what scares off project carriers - they have a great idea, but sometimes the task of managing all the aspects can be a bit daunting. So their idea is sound, but they have to manage all the organizational, legal and other aspects. Whereas here, they will find teams both to help them on technical issues and provide them with business support. So, I think that this should reassure those who have good ideas but who, perhaps, are afraid to take the plunge, as here they will find all this environment, all this support around them enabling them to launch their projects.