High-tech research centre driving the digital economy

22 February 2016

The nanoelectronics research centre imec and digital research and incubation centre iMinds announced their intention to merge the research centres. 

Using the imec name, the combined entities will create a high-tech research centre for the digital economy. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2016, with the united organisation staged to bring added value to existing partners while further strengthening Flanders as a technology epicentre and region focused on creating a sustainable digital future.

iMinds will be integrated as an additional business unit within imec, resulting in a new research centre that will fuse the technology and systems expertise of more than 2,500 imec researchers worldwide with the digital competencies of some 1,000 iMinds researchers representing nearly 50 nationalities. The additions of iMinds’ flagship open innovation research model -ICON- (in which academic researchers and industry partners jointly develop solutions for specific market needs), iStart entrepreneurship program (supporting start-up businesses), and Living Labs will strengthen the capabilities and assets of imec as a research and development centre.

Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec, stated that the proliferation of the Internet of Everything has created a need for solutions that integrate both hardware and software. Such innovative products that optimally serve tomorrow’s digital economy can only be developed through intense interaction between both worlds. There are infinite opportunities in domains such as sustainable healthcare, smart cities, smart manufacturing, smart finances, smart mobility, smart grids, or in short, smart everything. Research centres such as imec and iMinds are positioned to bring these concepts to life. Luc Van den hove also said iMinds is recognised for its business incubation programs and open access to SMEs, and, this merger provides an opportunity to jointly reach out to the Flemish industry and further elevate Smart Flanders on the global map.

Danny Goderis, CEO of iMinds, commented that Flanders faces the enormous challenge of realising a successful transition towards tomorrow’s digital society; a transition that must happen quickly, considering the urgency to reinforce Flanders’ industrial position. The merger between imec and iMinds is Flanders’ answer to this rapidly accelerating digitisation trend. 

Now that the intention to merge has been approved, the merger protocol will be developed and the integration process of imec and iMinds will be initiated immediately. The current iMinds activities will constitute a third pillar next to imec’s units. iMinds will remain headquartered in Ghent with its researchers spread across the Flemish universities. The ambition is to operate as one organisation by the end of 2016.

Flemish Minister of Innovation Philippe Muyters welcomed the merging of iMinds and imec, saying when they were founded, the line between hardware and software was still very clear. Today, and especially in the future, this line is increasingly blurring – with technology, systems and applications being developed in close conjunction. The merger anticipates this trend and creates a high-tech research centre for the digital economy that keeps Flanders on the world map. The gradual integration of both research centres, and the agreement to preserve their respective strengths and uniqueness, will make for a bright future.

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