Forum Startup Chemie boosts your business

Forum Startup Chemie boosts your business by strengthening the innovative power of the chemical industry and promoting the growth of start-ups. All Flemish start-ups in chemistry and plastics can join this open platform.

Forum Startup Chemie

What’s Forum Startup Chemie?

This brand-new, Germany-based partnering platform initiated by VCI is an open forum that seeks to support young ventures, starting from the first business idea up to market success. Their objective is to contribute to a significant increase in the number of innovative chemical start-ups and to improve their success.

What’s in it for your business?

Start-ups who join the forum have easy access to other start-ups, established companies, infrastructure, information and investors. The forum, among others, maps support options for start-ups and includes a database of potential partners.


The forum focusses on chemistry and related fields such as industrial biotechnology, bio-economy, and process engineering.

Boost your business

More information about the platform can be found on Flemish start-ups in chemistry and plastics can join the platform by submitting a short profile! For all questions regarding the forum, please contact essenscia’s Edith Coune ( or +32 475 90 15 10).

Join the Multi2Recycle Advisory Board

Circular food packaging remains high on the agenda, with both European and Belgian authorities setting ambitious recycling targets. In line with our innovation programme on Circularity and Resource Efficiency, Catalisti continues to focus on sustainable food packaging that enables both optimal product protection and maximal circularity, for example through the Multi2Recycle project. Sorting and recycling companies are invited to join the Advisory Board of this project.


In the intercluster COOCK project proposal Multi2Recycle, we join forces with Flanders’ FOOD, Pack4Food, UHasselt and VKC-Centexbel to work on the future of circular food packaging. Specifically, this project will seek to answer the following question:

“How can a multilayer plastic food packaging be recyclable and, at the same time, have the optimal barrier properties to ensure the shelf-life of food products?”

Goal of the project is to develop ‘Design for Recycling’ guidelines for multilayer plastic food packaging, incorporating both recyclability and optimal barrier properties. The maximal acceptable concentration of a certain type of barrier material (e.g. metallisation, EVOH) will be defined in function of the packaging recyclability. Afterwards, we will investigate how this translates into the shelf-life of the food product. In addition, the packaging recyclability will be validated on the level of the sorting and recycling sector.

Join us!

Industrial input and participation is crucial for reaching the project goals. Therefore, Catalisti and its partners are looking for sorting and recycling companies that wish to participate in the Multi2Recycle Advisory Board. Is your company interested in this project and its goals? Make sure to contact catalyst Wannes Libbrecht (; +32 499 315 604) for more information or check out a more detailed project description.

Ann Verlinden to become new Managing Director

After a thorough selection procedure, the Catalisti Board of Directors has appointed Ann Verlinden, the current CEO of Belcare, as the spearhead cluster’s new Managing Director. She will succeed Jan Van Havenbergh as of 5 April 2021.

Background in science and industry

With her strong scientific and industrial background, Ann’s profile perfectly matches her new role. Ann graduated at KU Leuven as a civil engineer in chemistry with a specialisation in environmental technology. She obtained her PhD at the University of Leeds-Bradford, where she focused on powder technology.

During her career, Ann has worked for companies, knowledge institutes and governments. She started at Exxon Chemical in Diegem, where she worked on membrane technology. She then joined BASF Antwerp as project manager of sustainable investment projects, production manager of the ammonia plant and innovation coach. In 2010, Ann switched to KH Leuven and subsequently to Innovatiecentrum Limburg. There, she supported companies across all sectors with (inter)national innovation projects and increasingly focused on innovation in the construction sector. In 2015, she became CEO of Belcare, which initiates and facilitates open innovation and transformation projects in the construction sector, with an emphasis on sustainability and circular construction.

A positive vision

“Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to initiate and carry out numerous sustainable innovation projects in multidisciplinary teams,” says Verlinden. “I did so within various sectors, always tailored to the specific knowledge institute, government, construction SME or chemical company. Time and again, I was amazed by the expertise Flanders has on offer and by the innovative power brought by multidisciplinary cooperation.”

“I am excited to work with the Catalisti team and all its partners to create positive collaborations and to realise sustainable innovations that accelerate the climate transition of the chemical and plastics sector”.

A bright future

For Wouter De Geest, chairman of Catalisti, the future looks bright: “With Ann at the helm, Catalisti’s successful track record will be continued in the coming years. Her drive and vigour will allow the spearhead cluster to further prepare and ensure the sustainable future of our sector. I wish Ann all the best in leading the dynamic Catalisti team.”

Jan Van Havenbergh to stay on as Moonshot manager

Jan Van Havenbergh will remain manager of Moonshot. This Flemish government initiative supports companies in reducing their CO2 emissions and is hosted by Catalisti. “Innovation remains a topic close to my heart. In this position, I will continue to focus on the climate transition of our industry and in particular on the connection between disruptive innovation and business implementation,” says Van Havenbergh.

“On behalf of the entire Catalisti team,” concludes chairman De Geest, “I wish to thank Jan for his enthusiasm and years of commitment. I am delighted that he will continue his role within Moonshot.”

Download the full press release (in Dutch) and check out Ann’s extended bio on her LinkedIn page.

BEL-COO replaces BEL-SME programme

VLAIO, SPW Recherche and Innoviris have replaced the BEL-SME financing programme with BEL-COO. This new programme is open to both SMEs as well as large enterprises, and allows for both research and development projects.


BEL-COO is a financing programme focused on Belgian enterprises aiming to execute a joint R&D project with enterprises from other Belgian regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels). The duration of a BEL-COO project must be between 12 and 36 months.

BEL-COO replaces and extends the BEL-SME programme. BEL-SME was restricted to development projects and was only eligible for SMEs. BEL-COO is eligible for both SMEs and large enterprises and allows both research and development projects.

Consortium requirements

The project consortium should consist of at least two enterprises from two different Belgian regions. Research institutes can participate as a subcontractor or research partner. They cannot, however, participate as a direct contractor.


For more information about the new programme, please contact catalyst Johan De Houwer ( or visit the VLAIO website.

Project BIOPOL4MOTIVE in elaboration

Flexible polyurethane (PU) foams are widely used due to their unique and superior properties. Although several companies are active in the area of biobased polyols, no commercially available polyols have the desired design properties that would allow using them in large quantities in automotive applications.

Therefore, Catalisti is currently elaborating the BIOPOL4MOTIVE project, entitled Biobased Polyols for flexible PU foams in automotive applications. This project aims to develop flexible polyurethane foams with an increased biocontent for automotive applications and brings together a strong partnership over the PU application development chain, from a polyol producer, over a PU raw material and formulated systems producer, to a final part producer.

Questions about this project? Please contact catalyst Linsey Garcia-Gonzalez.

Klimaatneutraal 2050: Een procesindustrie van lange adem?

“De chemische procesindustrie is essentieel om een duurzame ontwikkeling van onze maatschappij te garanderen omdat de producten bijdragen aan het invullen van zowat alle maatschappelijke behoeften – van de meest elementaire tot de meest gesofisticeerde.”

In een kort interview in de bijlage FOKUS Energie & Innovatie bij De Standaard geven Jan Van Havenbergh, managing director van Catalisti, en Pieter Nachtergaele van Oleon hun kijk op de verduurzaming van de chemische procesindustrie. Elektrificatie, energie-efficiëntie, het gebruik van hernieuwbare grondstoffen,… Allemaal topics waarrond de afgelopen jaren al heel wat vooruitgang werd geboekt, én waar ook de komende jaren versterkt op ingezet zal worden. Want hoewel het laaghangend fruit volgens Jan Van Havenbergh ondertussen geplukt is, blijven er zich nieuwe, innovatieve opportuniteiten aandienen!

Meer weten? Lees dan gratis het artikel in FOKUS Energie & Innovatie of grasduin door de volledige bijlage.

BIG-Cluster wants your input

The interregional BioInnovation Growth mega-Cluster (BIG-Cluster) is currently updating its innovation agenda to guide its actions in the coming years. To gather input for this update, BIG-Cluster is organising a virtual Industry Table on 9 February 2021. Professionals throughout the biobased value chain can already share their views on which topics will be most relevant in the coming years through a 5-minute survey.

A trilateral innovation initiative
The BioInnovation Growth mega-Cluster (BIG-Cluster) is a trilateral innovation initiative between cluster organisations in Flanders, The Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia. It is coordinated by Catalisti, Circular Biobased Delta and CLIB. Representing one of the biggest chemicals clusters in the world, BIG-Cluster aims to foster and support innovation in the field of circular biobased chemicals and processes, as well as support the transition of the cross-border region towards a more sustainable economy.

Stakeholder involvement
BIG-Cluster implements its goals by promoting biobased innovation within its network and by bringing together all relevant stakeholders (from industries, SMEs, academia and governments) to cooperate on new technologies.

Update of innovation agenda
Until now, BIG-Cluster focused primarily on:
  • C1 as a feedstock
  • Aromatics from woody biomass
  • Bio-fuels for aviation
Currently, however, the initiative is updating its innovation agenda to guide its actions in the coming years. To gather input for this update, as well as bring cross-border expertise together, a virtual Industry Table will be set up on 9 February 2021. The aim is to have a limited number of stakeholders of each region present around the table. By mid-January, a final agenda will be made available and registration for the Industry Table will be opened.

Share your views!
To prepare for, and bring focus to, this meeting, BIG-Cluster is gathering a first round of feedback through a 5-minute survey. Make sure to share your views and help guide BIG-Cluster’s future activities!

Flemish production of face masks secured

Two Flemish companies have received 3.2 million euro in “Strategische Transformatiesteun COVID-19” from Flemish Minister for Economy and Innovation Hilde Crevits in order to structurally secure the production of high-quality face masks in Flanders. Catalisti supported the government in identifying local expertise and evaluating potential production opportunities.

Eurofilters and Medimundi
When the pandemic hit, a shortage of high-quality face masks made Flanders vulnerable to the COVID-19. Now, the Flemish government has awarded two local companies no less than 3.2 million euro in “Strategische Transformatiesteun COVID-19” to set up and structurally secure the local production of high-quality and reliable face masks. These companies are Eurofilters in Pelt, which specializes in high-tech melt-blown filter materials, and Medimundi in Turnhout, a spin-off of, amongst others, UAntwerpen and Cartamundi that recently started producing face masks on an industrial scale. Eurofilters will receive 2.4 million euro in support to build a new melt-blown production line, next to its own investment of 10 million euro. Medimundi receives 8000.000 euro in government funding, on top of a 2.2 million investment by the consortium behind the spin-off.

Learn more about Eurofilters in the video below (in Dutch).

Strategic independence
By producing face masks and the necessary filter materials locally, Flanders becomes less dependent on import from abroad. This also allows for the built-up of a strategic stock, in case another pandemic hits. Moreover, concerns about low-quality face masks are mitigated.

Catalisti’s role
Flanders has unique expertise in the fields of chemical production (polypropylene), plastics processing and high-tech textile manufacturing. As the spearhead cluster for chemistry and plastics, Catalisti has a broad network of partners within these fields. Therefore, on request of the Flemish government, Catalisti supported efforts to identify local expertise and evaluate potential production opportunities.