Last month, more than 16,000 visitors from 65 countries gathered in Chicago for the annual Bio International Convention, the world’s largest event for the biotech industry. It’s a little like the World’s Fair, with a Belgian pavilion that gathers the country’s participating companies. There, visitors to the convention – not tourists, but businessmen representing other biotech firms – were introduced to, apart from waffles, fries and beer, another of our prestigious exports: biotechnology.
Viktor, from Erembodegem, East Flanders, suffers from atypical haemolytic-uraemic syndrome, an immune system disorder caused by an E coli infection. The body destroys its own red bloods cells, which can lead to kidney failure. The disease affects mainly children, of whom there are only about a dozen in Belgium.
The document consists of 30 main points spread across six fields of activity. Goal number one is to increase the shipping traffic to Flanders. One way to do that will be to create added-value projects in the hinterland. Antwerp and Zeebrugge will work together to attract a greater share of the growing traffic from Asia to Northern Europe; Zeebrugge and Ostend will work to promote cruise traffic; and all four ports will combine their efforts to promote and market Flanders abroad, for example at trade fairs and on international missions.
Alfacam was founded by Gabriel Fehervari, the child of Hungarian refugees, in 1985. It provided technical services such as cameras and outside-broadcast studios to TV producers. The company quickly established a strong reputation and won important contracts at home – beginning with the Night of the Proms – and abroad, picking up the contract in 2005 to provide services for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.
Around mid-December, news reports surfaced that the personal information of hundreds of solar panel owners in Flanders had been briefly accessible to anyone with a login and password to the website of the Flemish energy regulator, VREG.
Just before Christmas, an online data leak at the railway operator NMBS Europe exposed the names, addresses and birthdates of 700,000 international customers.
Two weeks later, the job-search website Jobat involuntarily dumped the salary details of 4,000 users online.
No specific names were revealed by Le Soir journalist Alain Lallemand, but there were “hundreds” of Belgians involved, he said. He has been in touch with some of those whose names appear in the documents, and they have admitted involvement. “I think Antwerp diamond traders are among the most prominent names,” on the list, he said.
According to the report, the majority of the difference is attributable to high network costs and higher taxes on energy. The association is calling for a cap on the costs major producers have to pay.
Febeliec’s warning was echoed by a number of major consumers, including ArcelorMittal in Ghent, Bayer in Antwerp, Solvay in Brussels and Nyrstar in Overpelt. “High electricity costs in Belgium are a threat to our future,” said Wim Van Gerven, CEO of ArcelorMittal Ghent, whose company pays 6% of its total cost package of €3 billion for energy.
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was virtually closed to the West for decades, under the rule of a military junta. As relations with the outside have begun to improve, Western companies are eyeing the Myanmar market for opportunities. Last spring, Peeters led a trade mission to the country, the start of contacts that are now beginning to bear fruit.
Going from working in a high-demand profession to a hospital stay for severe depression can happen to even the most driven, confident employees. Katrien Deboodt of De Haan on the Flemish coast is a well-educated businesswoman. When she became pregnant with her son in 2007, this change, along with stress from her work, caused Deboodt to have an “emotional and psychological crash,” including thoughts of suicide.