AIMA OPENS ITS BRUSSELS OFFICE
AIMA OPENS ITS BRUSSELS OFFICE
According to Politico, the Alternative Investment Management Association has opened a new office in Brussels with plans to hire more staff to assist the organization’s current lobbyist Marie-Adélaïde De Nicolay.
As reported by Politico, a longtime fixture in the financial services lobbying scene in Brussels, AIMA represents hedge funds and asset managers and has for the last decade or so focused its energies on the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, which is currently under review by the Commission. “Brexit is an obvious catalyst,” said Jiri Krol, AIMA’s deputy CEO, describing the organization’s plan to boost its presence in all key financial centers.
QBE OPENS AN OFFICE IN BRUSSELS
QBE OPENS AN OFFICE IN BRUSSELS
QBE is a leading management and technology consulting organization for the federal government and defense and intelligence communities. Its headquarters are located in Haymarket, Virginia. QBE was founded in 2008 and has more than 100 employees. QBE opened its Brussels office in early 2018.
Connecting with Brussels Silicon Valley 2017
Connecting Brussels with Silicon Valley 2017
This year’s Connecting Brussels with Silicon Valley mission brought together 12 startups for a week-long immersive experience in Silicon Valley, including a group of 11 coders led by Ibrahim Ouassari and Julie Foulon of MolenGeek, despite their hectic arrival. Our mission was presided by Cecile Jodogne Secretary of State in Charge of Foreign Trade and included B2B meetings, networking events, and visits with innovative startups. Eight of our participating startups – WooClap, Apptweak, Upcall, LuckyCycle, Springsyple, MolenGeek, QuickLyric, SportyVerse - exhibited at the 11th annual TechCrunch Disrupt Conference where the format combines “top thought-leader discussions with new product and company launches”.[i]
Silicon Valley is an important territory for Belgian technology Startups. The Silicon Valley region has claimed the top regional spot in dollar amount invested since 1995 according to Regional Aggregate data provided by PwC’s Money Tree Report.[ii] Brussels Invest and Export in San Francisco Commissioner Eric Gabrys welcomed mission participants Sunday afternoon with a kick-off covering tips on how to adapt to the American style of doing business and an overview of the week’s busy program. Henry Vantieghem, our Belgian General Consul in LA joined the kick-off meeting and was first to present its activities in its jurisdiction on the West Coast. Each of our participant then enjoyed an opportunity to present its innovation and goals for the mission to other members of the delegation.
Our Secretary of State Cecile Jodogne set the tone with a call to participants to take full advantage of the week, emphasizing that “the Brussels digital ecosystem represents 7.6% of regional GDP, 5 billion euro in revenue, 2,000 businesses, and 31,000 jobs; more than 25% of Belgian Startups are created in Brussels,”[iii] during her inauguration of the Brussels Pavilion at TechCrunch Disrupt.
Laurence Van den Keybus, Executive Director of BelCham - Atelier in the Bay welcomed Belgian startup presenters Jens Verhiest of LuckyCycle, Gauthier Philippart of BluPods, Thomas Querton of Atlas Run, Benjamin Le Cam of Zorabots, and Sebastien Tron Hopsy Beer, all who presented on building a business in Silicon Valley. Hopsy Beer provided an update on its impressive growth rate and recent launch in New York. The demo from Zorabots showcased the companies value proposition as a caring solution based on the NAO robots of Softbanc Robotics, and provided a stunning Flamenco dance.
Guillaume Bourcy Director of Sales & Development at BICS San Francisco, a $1.7 Billion company with 570 employees, spoke about BICS’ recent acquisition of Telesign as a move to provide added value security services to its worldwide customers, as well as noting that this is one of the largest IT acquisitions by a Belgian company of a California-based entity.
At a visit with Denisse Halm and Olivier Sinson of Udemy, a global marketplace for learning and teaching online, delegation participants learned about Silicon Valley’s culture of perseverance: After being rejected more than 30 times, Udemy finally got funded by Venture Capital firm Lightbank and currently has $173 million in funding from 17 investors.[iv]
At Branch, a startup providing developers tools to provide links between websites and apps, participants met co-founder Dmitri Gaskin who started coding at age of 8, dropped out of Stanford University at 18 years old to fund his first company, and currently runs a Branch with 3 co-founders and has raised more than $60 million Series C from Andy Rubin’s Playground Ventures company.
Professor of European Union economics and policies, Christopher Crombez, hosted a tour of Stanford University, covering the founding of the University by Mr. Leland Stanford as well as its important role as a nexus connecting innovation to the venture capital and co-founder communities in Silicon Valley. Delegation members had the opportunity to take in a view of the campus from the Hoover Tower, which consists of an historic library, cast iron church bells manufactured in Belgium, and the emblematic Belgian Gates.
Nathalie Delrue-McGuire welcomed delegation members to a tour of SFMoMa, at the close of which participants enjoyed a luncheon with Chad Coerver Chief Content Officer at SFMoMA who spoke about the critical role that technological solutions play in the Museum’s day-to-day operations and overall strategic management.
Molengeek participants particularly enjoyed a presentation by Nathan Gold “the demo coach” on how to open a presentation with 6 signals and gave tips for opening techniques in a high-stakes presentation. Moreover, he reinforced to the audience the importance of preparation when pitching to investors, by referencing Benjamin Franklin’s well-known adage “By failing to prepare, you are preparing for failure”. The advice was well received!
Our participants attended the European Innovation Day 2017 where an afternoon of discussions covered the fostering of innovation between EU nation states and Silicon Valley.
Our delegation held a luncheon on “How to Navigate Silicon Valley as a Professional Woman” with Anne DeGheest, a pioneer in the health-tech space and Managing Director of HealthTech Capital which is a group of private investors dedicating to funding and mentoring new health-tech startups, as well as Marcia Saecker, a nationalized Belgian, and successful startup founder who reminded the audience, “Be a victor and not a victim. And be grateful to people who support you”.
Secretary of State Cecile Jodogne met with Thierry Gabadou Head of International Banking Group of BNP Paribas/ Bank of the West to learn about Bank of the West’s Innovation Hubs, of which nine are located in Belgium.
Alain Demeulenaere, Managing Director of Numeca-USA, a fluid dynamics software application used by aviation and marine companies, shared his story with us: Numeca is recognized today as one of the most innovative companies in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and since opening a San Francisco office, its US revenue has increased 8-fold.
Participant startups had the opportunity to enjoy a networking dinner at The SF Cookhouse with founder Alfredo Coppola, and partners Jeff Snider and Chris Burry of US Market Access Center, which provides international tech companies with fast and successful access to the US and Global Markets through its Silicon Valley know-how and network. This was also a great opportunity to mingle with some of the Subject Matter Experts from Brussels Invest & Export large network in Silicon Valley.
Our delegation was invited to the Executive Briefing Center of DocuSign, an eSignature solution, to learn about how DocuSign’s technology empowers businesses around the world with managing and executing contracts, from employment agreements to sales and partnership agreements. At right, Boris Pavlovic shares an interactive display illustrating the documents signed every day around the world with DocuSign’s technology.
A meeting with TriNet was a great opportunity to meet with another one of the key ingredients of Silicon Valley success with an extensive network of service providers. The added value provided by TriNet was well explained in a presentation from female founder Ute Ruther of Q-Sensei a real-time, multi-Dimensional search, discovery, analytics and data visualization company. Ute came to Silicon Valley from Europe to grow her business, and with TriNet’s services, she could focus on her business’s core value proposition while externalizing its HR administration. This is particularly important for foreign born entrepreneurs who are not familiar with HR matters and particularities in the US.
At our mission’s marquee event, The 5th Annual Belgian Startup Pitch Competition at The Vault SF, WooClap, Apptweak, LuckyCycle, Springsyple, QuickLyric, and Sportyverse pitched their startups in maximum 4 minutes to an audience and panel of four Silicon Valley veterans , Max Shapiro of PeopleConnect, Radhika Iyengar-Emens of DoubleNova Group, Jorden Woods of Silicon Valley Fundraising, and Jeff Wallace of HubSV. Our companies were particularly impressed by the feedback provided by our panelists.
Right before the start of the competition, each panelist gave a last piece of advice to the presenters, insisting on the importance to articulate their value proposition to their audience and to keep in mind that potential investors always want to hear a response to their most pressing question: “What’s in it for me?”.
AppTweak won the pitch competition prize of a 3-month membership at the Vault SF. Apptweak CEO and co-founder Olivier Verdin noted, “this will be useful as we come back to the area to continue our development with partners in Silicon Valley” Indeed, Apptweak had promising contact with a well-known online dining reservation service. Jens Verhiest received honorary mention for best presentation.
The final day of the mission members attended a signing ceremony between digtal Kevin Carbone, CEO of digital advertising agency PRN LLC, and iDKlic, a Belgian startup in pharmacy digital advertising at San Francisco’s iconic TransAmerica Pyramid Tower with its amazing view of SanFrancisco Bay. Kevin Carbone of PRN LLC provided a warm welcome to our delegation, as well as to iDKlic’s co-founders Jean-Charles Figoni and Miriam Taub who had participated in last year’s Connecting Brussels with Silicon Valley mission, and upon this year’s return focused their time to solidify its relationship with Mr. Carbone and PRN.
To wrap up the week, delegation participants provided their feedback. Yassine Chahid of Springsyple said, “TechCrunch Disrupt and B2B Meetings had provided Springsyple with a dozen high-quality introductions”. Miguel Van Keirsbilck of the Belgian Foundation for Food Sciences felt “inspired and made 20 quality contacts”. Guillaume Hachez of QuickLyric enthusiastically noted, “At TechCrunch Disrupt, I had several interesting contacts, notably a representative from Samsung’s TV Division. Silicon Valley is great.” Ibrahim Ouassari of MolenGeek noted, “this trip has already changed our coders; it’s comforting to see that they don’t have to run from responsibilities, they have to grab them by their hands, propel themselves, and undertake the work”.[v]
Connecting Brussels with Silicon Valley - ICT Mission 2016
Connecting Brussels with Silicon Valley, October 24-28, 2016
Almost each year, Brussels Invest & Export Office in San Francisco organizes an ICT Mission to introduce Brussels-based companies to the Silicon Valley ecosystem of founders, subject matter experts, and investors. For its 3rd edition, BIE in San Francisco welcomed eight amazing startups - iDklic, Urbantz, Upcall, Facility Lockers, Emixis, Lansrode Capital Management, Pyco Group, and Himeta. – to participate in its ICT Mission Connecting Brussels with Silicon Valley. For startup companies the world over, Silicon Valley conjures up hockey-stick startup growth, vast networking and funding opportunity, and cutting-edge technical innovation. Indeed Silicon Valley is a new territory for Belgian Startups, and an important one: The US has witnessed a tenth-consecutive quarter [since 2014Q1] of more than $10 billion in venture capital invested in a single quarter according to the Q22016 Money Tree Report, and the Silicon Valley region has claimed the top regional spot in dollar amount invested since 1995 according to Regional Aggregate data provided by PwC’s Money Tree Report. The evening before events began, delegation participants met at the historic Tonga Room, established in 1945, in the Fairmont Hotel, to become acquainted and prepare for the start of an intense week-long program in Silicon Valley.
Connecting Brussels with Silicon Valley, Stanford University Tour, October 26, 2016
From left to right, front row: Juan Bossicard of Impulse Brussels, Galen Reichbaum of Brussels Invest & Export, Eric Gabrys of Brussels Invest & Export, Marc Daugherty of Brussels Invest & Export, Miriam Taub of iDklic, and Maxime de Caritat of Facility Lockers
From left to right, back row: Michaeal Darchambeau of Urbantz, Olivier Costa of Brussels Invest & Export, Alain Decorte of Lansrode Capital Management, Youri Balcers of Himeta, Philippe Druez of Emixis, Jean-Charles Figoni of iDklic
The next morning, with Henri Vantieghem the Consulate General in Los Angeles and Oliver Costa the Trade and Economic Counsellor to the European Union in attendance, Connecting Brussels with Silicon Valley kicked off. Rick Rasmussen, an expert in entrepreneurship and technology, provided insight into the “secret sauce” that potential investors are looking for when evaluating a business pitch, while Nathan Gold, “the demo coach”, shared effective strategies for story-telling. A team of entrepreneurs-turned-investors - Rick Rasmussen, Jeff Wallace of Global Kinetics, and Naeem Zafar of Concordia Ventures - provided an afternoon of business mentoring on validating each company’s product or service as a fit for the US market, and working with the startup co-founders to fine-tune their business position. Ronald Star, our host for the first two days of our program at the law firm Arnold & Porter, spoke to Belgian Startups about incorporating in the US as it relates to considerations of equity, financing, intellectual property, and compensation incentives. Hopsy, an innovative craft-beer distributor, co-founded by a Belgian Sebastien Tron, presented on how Hopsy has gained tremendous traction within the investor community due to its innovative approach to the traditional supplier-to-consumer distribution model. Having been around for a little over a year and a half, Hopsy boasts an impressive board of advisors and investor list that has bode it well in developing a HomeTap machine in partnership with Nespresso and KRUPS (Link).
Later on, practicalities on immigration, banking, and international taxation were covered by Alcorn Immigration Law, Julien Christiaens of Bank of the West, and Rowbotham Partners, respectively. Sophie Alcorn, of Alcorn Immigration Law, highlighted the E-2 Investor Visa among various Visa Pathways to the US. The E-2 Visa is available to treaty countries, of which Belgium is one, and affords a minimum of $100 investment to develop and direct a US company, allows a permit-holder to stay 2 years at a time with indefinite renewal, and spouses may get work permits. Sophie, as well, guided us on a tour of Stanford University her alma mater. During this tour, she spoke of the importance of the rich ecosystem of universities, large corporations, investors, and founders. We also had the opportunity to take in a view of the campus from the Hoover Tower, which consists of an historic library, cast iron church bells manufactured in Belgium, and the emblematic Belgian Gates.
The next day our group visited The Batchery, a global incubator for seed stage entrepreneurs located in Oakland, where we learned the distinctions between incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces, as well as had the opportunity to hear from US entrepreneurs Ucella and Shipbird, startup companies similar in many ways to Facility Lockers and Urbantz, respectively, within the fast-growing delivery and logistics sector.
As well, a breakfast reception at the collaborative workspace and innovation hub, The Vault SF, introduced us to Paul Kallmes a specialist in the global venture capital and intellectual property domain, who provided advice on how to further grow your company while keeping your IP protected. As well, a breakfast reception at the collaborative workspace and innovation hub, The Vault SF, introduced us to Paul Kallmes a specialist in the global venture capital and intellectual property domain, who provided advice on how to further grow your company while keeping your IP protected.
In the second part of the mission, our participants had the opportunity to engage in the American and very-much-silicon-valley-tradition of pitching a business idea to a panel of potential investors. They began with a pitch rehearsal at Foreign Startups Mixer and Pitch Night founded by Pawan Mehra in 2013 with the goal of integrating technology with diversity and cross-cultural connection. Pawan noted, “it was fun hosting your group and meeting the promising entrepreneurs from Brussels”.
Using the feedback from this event, our Belgian startups polished their pitches for the Belgian Entrepreneurs Pitch Night hosted by Brussels Invest & Export at BelCham | The Belgian American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco’s historic Jackson Square neighborhood. The panel of potential investors during the formal pitch night included Valley stalwarts - Dr. Ronald Weissman of the Band of Angels, David Smith with FirstCapital-US, Radhika Iyengar-Emens CEO of DoubleNova, Jorden Woods president of Silicon Valley Fundraising, and Philippe Jansen a General Manager in nano-technology labs formerly with IMEC and currently with Texas Instruments Kilby Research lab. These panelists asked tough questions and gave honest feedback, ultimately encouraging each company to reflect on how their current business model would have them achieve their business goals within the US Silicon Valley business environment. Michael Darchambeau of Urbantz was selected the winner of the Pitch Event by the investor panelists, and awarded a 2-week office space to l’Atelier at BelCham. The winner of the best presentation was Youri Balcers with Himeta Technologies.
On the final day of the mission, Belgian startups attended the 500 Startups Pitch Day of David McClure’s 500 Startups, a leading global venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator that manages $200 million in assets, to experience a high-stakes entrepreneurial-investor forum.
Throughout the mission, each company met with potential businesses and partners, for example: A pharmacy sales manager with CVS one of the top 4 largest pharmacy retail chains throughout the US; a manager at InstaCart as well as at Good Eggs, both are popular internet-based grocery delivery services in the Bay Area; and, a specialist in the intersection of intellectual property management, venture investment, and foreign start-ups entering the US. The co-founder of Urbantz secured three pilots with US partners, and provided Brussels Invest & Export the following feedback: “I would like to thank you so much for the amazing week we spent together and that you have organized so well. I really would like to keep in touch to connect Urbantz to Silicon Valley. You did a very good job for us. In addition, you are a great time and this is very important”. Indeed, A US business partner in the logistics tech domain, who had met earlier in the week with Urbantz and Facility Lockers, commented that, “[Facility Lockers] and [Urbantz] were strong meetings with bright entrepreneurs”.
On the final evening of the Mission, the delegation met at the downtown Hilton for a Bon Voyage meeting to recap the week’s events before their return to Brussels. The Co-founders of iDklic felt they received important guidance on how to better target their services so as to increase revenues more exponentially, and had the following to share: “thank to both of you for this mission. We learned a lot from this experience in Silicon Valley”; moreover, iDklic co-founders shared that they saw the opportunity that perhaps in the future they will find themselves pitching in front of a large audience such as at 500 Startups. Additionally, Facility Lockers Co-Founder shared his thoughts, “Thanks a lot for the great job and opportunities you created for us”.
Brussels Days in New York in May 2018
Brussels Days in New York in May 2018
Brussels Days, a yearly promotion event to show the world what Brussels has to offer, took place in Washington, DC and New York in May 2018 (May 21-24, 2018).
The event promoted a wide range of aspects of the Brussels-Capital Region: its touristic location, its history, its economy and its relationships with the world.
This year Brussels Days highlighted the following sectors: architecture, fashion and technology.
The Ice Box Challenge, an outdoor installation in Garment District of Manhattan, educated public of benefits of using hyper efficient Passive House standards of construction, by showcasing two pavilions built using different standards and containing a ton of ice each. The Challenge began on April 21, the Car Free Earth Day, and ended on May 23, during Brussels Days.
Zipcar is coming to Brussels
NEWTREE OPENS ITS SECOND GOURMET & ORGANIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO
Nozon presents at Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Meetup
Olivier Dachkin opens first hair salon in the U.S.
Brussels Best Exporters 2013
Founded by Professor Charles Hirsch in 1992, Numeca develops fluid mechanics simulation and design software, at the cutting edge of technological innovation.
Telelingua is a multilingual technical translation company, founded in Brussels in 1985. It has subsidiaries in France, the United States, Germany and China. 70% of its turnover comes from export