Test before invest. To achieve the objective of integrating new technologies in industrial companies’ processes, WalHub brings together a consortium with the competences and knowledge covering the entire data value chain. The technological infrastructure of WalHub’s partners will be made available to the industry for awareness session, coaching, demonstration, diagnostic and workshops services. The demonstrators will enable to carry out Proof-of-Concept (PoCs), limiting both iterations and financial risks to digitalise. They can be supplemented, adapted and improved according to the industry’s demand. In addition, Idelux is a crucial partner in addressing cybersecurity technologies due to its unique European positioning through its partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and its networks in this field. Finally, WalHub will work closely with private entities such as Thales CyberSecurity Center, Engie Fabricom, P4A platform, RHEA cybersecurity services who can contribute through their expertise and testing capabilities.

Skills and training. Currently, there are many independent initiatives on skills and training in the Walloon region. However, they lack coordination and do not allow scaling up at regional level. Therefore, WalHub will map and prepare a portfolio of training courses enabling workers in the targeted SMEs to develop their digital skills. There are three main Walloon Competence Centres active in digital and industry with whom WalHub will work closely to map the regional portfolio – Technofutur TIC, Technifutur and Technocampus. These centres have strong linkages with the consortium (Agoria is a member of the boards of directors of all three centres and Chairman in 2 of them). In addition, WalHub’s will facilitate and encvourage access to existing training such as: Agoria Academy (training courses on topics related to technology and business), Ideélux partnership with ESA and the HESTIA training centre (the centre builds on the methodologies, know-how and facilities developed by the ESA), High Performance Computing training developed by the CECI (Consortium des Équipements de Calcul Intensif – Intensive Computing Equipment Consortium). In addition, WalHub is building on the findings from the “Be the change” study on the evolution of the Belgian labour market in the context of digitalisation carried out by AGORIA with the 3 Belgian public employment services (FOREM, VDAB and Actiris), the digital skills scanning tool developed by AdN and FOREM, and the “DigiSkills” developed by Agoria.

Support to find investments. Around the MecaTech Cluster, the partnerships with the Société Régionale d’Investissement Wallonne (SRIW) and Société Wallonne de Financement (SOWALFIN), two of the regional instruments of economic policy to support companies in Wallonia and to promote their growth, will enable WalHub to find investments covering the entire life cycle of a company on a regional scale. In addition, the research centres also have excellent tools enabling companies’ access to funding. Finally, WalHub will serve to attract and create links with regional and international private investment funds.

Innovation ecosystem and networking services. In order to achieve maximum impact of the above actions, WalHub will work towards developing a ‘community’ to ensure sufficient regional relays, to reach the largest possible number of Walloon industrial companies and to enhance its presence in European networks. At regional level WalHub’s ecosystem already has a significant critical mass of pre-existing networks brought by the partners. Walloon companies developing key technologies will be matched with manufacturing SMEs that will receive support from WalHub. At European level, WalHub will actively work to position and promote Wallonia’s know-how at European and global level in the targeted technological areas, WalHub will seek collaborations with the main European EDIHs in order to create synergies between research and industry players to: (1) pool skills and identify resources that are not available in Wallonia but are necessary for the development of our SMEs; (2) export Walloon technologies on a European scale.