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New science park to bring research closer to the public
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and its related hospital UZ Brussel are building a joint research hub on the outskirts of the capital. The campus will be a large-scale test site where companies, research institutions, government bodies and other users can work together on innovative and sustainable solutions for societal challenges.
Research carried out at Green Energy Park in Zellik, Flemish Brabant, will focus on three areas: the transition to green energy and mobility, the hospital of the future and digital issues such as smart cities and technology based on artificial intelligence.
“Within Green Energy Park we will carry out research to create sustainable and innovative solutions that contribute to our society,” said spokesperson Jimmy Van Moer. “For example, better mobility, more green energy and better health care. By bringing four distinct groups together to collaborate, the result is knowledge sharing and fruitful solutions.”
The first projects on energy and mobility have already begun and there are a number of businesses showing an interest in the site’s infrastructure. VUB has received €6 million in funding from Flanders and Europe which will pay for 20 new researchers at the site, among other things.
The founders’ aim is to bridge the gap between research, development and innovation on the one hand and realisation and operation on the other. By offering its large-scale testing ground and the computing power of its data centre to companies and knowledge institutions, it will support research in the development, testing and application of new ideas.
To achieve this, the lab will include a large-scale innovative electric grid, an ultra-low temperature heat network and extensive electric mobility options that can be used for research. The system will also deliver heat and electricity to more than 70 neighbouring businesses.
A datacentre with supercomputers will facilitate research into high-technology solutions, and there will be infrastructure for research into med-tech innovations. “The launch of Green Energy Park is a milestone in the history of VUB,” said Eddy Van Gelder, chair of the university’s board. “With it, VUB and UZ Brussel are creating a large-scale, unique lab with an international impact.”
Offices, the data centre and industrial labs are expected to be complete by the middle of 2021, with the whole park finished by the end of 2023.