Introduction

Joint innovation as a way out of the crisis, to a sustainable recovery!

2020 brought a worldwide tsunami of changes and at least as many challenges to be faced by our companies. The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences on civil society has brought about changes in consumer and professional behaviour. Relevant trends such as digitisation and the demand for sustainability have accelerated the creation of challenges for the industry. Apart from during the brief lockdown at the beginning of the first wave, industrial companies were fortunate to be able to continue innovating during the public health crisis. Exceptional crisis periods also result in unique opportunities!

It was an ideal opportunity for companies to seize the moment and change their approach. Now the recovery is underway, more than ever is it the time to invest strategically in the future, by developing new products, considering new technologies – e.g. the increasing importance of data, automation and AI, adopting more efficient and sustainable production methods, and even exploring new business models. This is how we accelerate a sustainable recovery, for our industry, economy and society.

Initiatives as a joint effort

The crisis has also highlighted the limits of individualism, at both the professional and personal levels. The importance of collaboration has been proven once again, between companies, organisations and government bodies, organisations working in different industries, etc. Federations, like Agoria, have also shown their relevance, as they have quickly provided their members with the right information. The same can be said of collaborative centres, which bridge the gap between the world of research and industry. The Innovader platform was launched mid-2020 to support the companies in these exceptional times. Sirris and nine other collaborative centres have joined forces and have strengthened their joint efforts, each strongly anchored in their own sector and positioned ideally to support their companies in all innovation-related matters.

In 2020, Sirris took their task as a collective centre to heart more than ever. During the pandemic, we focused on various initiatives to support and help companies, first with the crisis itself and later with the recovery of industry. We concentrated even more on the three topics of products, production and business. For example, we brought together a consortium of companies to focus on an invention at the University of Liège for the development and production of rapid tests for COVID-19. We also worked with POM West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders Development Agency) to organise the Crisis Code Cracker, to help companies in West Flanders, followed by everywhere else, to draw up an action plan to emerge from the crisis stronger than ever.

Despite the exceptional circumstances, 2020 was a year when we went in depth into existing themes for a sustainable transition towards competitive, resilient, buoyant and future-proof companies as part of a circular economy. Innovation remains key.
Together, we innovate”, our slogan fits like a glove, now more than ever!

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