Smart Cities Vlaanderen: More powerful than ever

Smart Cities Vlaanderen logo

In July, Citylab fully integrated its work for the Innovative Business Network (IBN) Smart Cities Vlaanderen with partner DSP Valley. “After more than a year and a half of successful collaboration with DSP Valley, it is time for this step,” says Citylab director Marc Schepers. “By bringing our business cluster fully under one roof, we will become more effective and create room for further development of Smart Cities Vlaanderen!”   

DSP Valley and Citylab are the driving forces behind the IBN Smart Cities Vlaanderen, which was started more than a year and a half ago with the support of various big names in the tech world. Although still at an early stage as an organization, the cluster has had a promising start, successfully bridging the gap between business and government. Their strength has been converting Smart Cities issues into concrete business cases for companies.

Dieter Therssen (left), CEO of DSP Valley, and Marc Schepers (right), director of Citylab, signing the merger official agreement regarding Smart Cities Vlaanderen.
Dieter Therssen (left), CEO of DSP Valley, and Marc Schepers (right), director of Citylab, signing the official merger agreement.

The two organizations are convinced that they are coming together at the right moment. Schepers declared, “It is now time to connect even more and to continue our cooperation with DSP Valley. That is why we decided to fully shift our co- promotorship to DSP Valley.” 

From his perspective as CEO of DSP Valley, Dieter Therssen emphasizes the need for an encompassing structure. “In Flanders, several initiatives have emerged in the field of smart cities in recent years , but there is not yet an overarching approach across the region. At the same time, the demand from local governments for smart city solutions is increasing exponentially,” he states. 

CEO of Living Tomorrow and president of Smart Cities Vlaanderen, Joachim De Vos agrees that the time for joining forces is ripe as the movement for smart cities gains momentum. This merger between DSP Valley and City Labs is the first step toward an even stronger Smart Cities Vlaanderen consortium.

Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), which financially supports the consortium through its subsidies for IBNs, is also on board. Asked for comment, a spokesperson confirmed, “This evolution makes the position of Smart Cities Vlaanderen more powerful and stable and allows them to support companies even better in the smart cities domain. It will enable the cluster to actively contribute to developing Flanders into a smart region.”

 The integration between Citylab and DSP Valley “enables us to accelerate our role as a matchmaker between companies and local authorities, building business consortia and creating a digital platform in the quadruple helix,” says Peter Vandeurzen, Cluster Manager for Smart Cities Vlaanderen. DSP Valley will further expand and strengthen the cluster from its office at the Corda Campus in Hasselt.

A bundled structure can also be the starting point for jumping from Flanders to Europe in the context of digitization. By coordinating smart cities initiatives, the desired critical mass and strength can be achieved to make Flanders a leading smart region in Europe.

All information about the Smart Cities Vlaanderen community and how to participate can be found on their website.


Smart Cities Vlaanderen Cluster
The cluster was founded by a number of steering group members and co-financed by VLAIO. The founding steering committee members are: Living Tomorrow with Joachim De Vos, chairman of the steering group, Nokia, Cronos Group, MyCsN, Tractebel Engie, Mediahuis, Hydroscan, Niko, and AllThingsTalk.

Together for strong, ambitious innovation
More starters, more stayers, more growers: that’s what we aim for! The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Agency and the Innovative Business Networks want to facilitate cooperation between companies, knowledge institutions and governments. Smart Cities Vlaanderen is one of these innovative business networks. Discover the others at the website. #growingstrong #sterkgroeien   

Breathing with Confidence Thanks to Collaboration

By Jane Judge, DSP Valley
Breathe with Confidence

A small, partly cobble-stoned street in Antwerp’s Berchem neighborhood seems unremarkable enough. On one side, low garages, probably for the apartment buildings on the busier parallel street. On the other side, a newbuild of pleasing dark brick and street-level windows starting at your shoulder. This is the new Yust space (part hotel, part apartments, part co-working event space – but we’ll get to the specifics of what they do a little later).

Continue reading “Breathing with Confidence Thanks to Collaboration”

LACROIX Group positions itself as European leader in Smart City technology with the acquisition of Belgian company Smartnodes

By Lacroix Group

LACROIX Group has just concluded a strategic deal by acquiring the Belgian start-up Smartnodes, a small company founded on inter-university research which has won numerous international awards for its innovations in Smart Lighting systems.

This start-up, with around fifteen employees, strengthens the European position of LACROIX Group in the Smart Cities market, complementing its offer related to the intelligent management of street lighting infrastructure.

With Smartnodes, the group is expanding its offer thanks to dynamic products at the cutting edge of technology, while also strengthening its highly skilled engineering teams. In doing so, it aims to accelerate its ability to implement new road-management use cases by harnessing street lighting infrastructure with dynamic technology. Smart Lighting regulates the zones, times and intensity of lighting for environmentally friendly cities, while retaining visual attractiveness and safety. Available in all public places, the street lighting network, fitted with new sensors, thus becomes the support base for the development of Smart City networks.

LACROIX Group strengthens its European position as a Smart City technology provider.

Already established in Spain, Germany and Italy, LACROIX Group is expanding its European footprint with the acquisition of Smartnodes.  After covering Belgium and the Netherlands, the priority targets for Smartnodes are France, the DACH countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and Northern Europe, drawing on an extensive and highly dynamic offer.

 “With a keen high-tech focus, the company Smartnodes, a spin-off of the University of Liège and the University of Louvain, is a pure start-up which, in a very short space of time, has successfully developed and marketed outside Belgium a range of detection and communication (IoT) products based on the implementation of a low-bandwidth mesh network and edge-computing systems. Smartnodes can rely on a very fine team of engineers and sales representatives committed to meeting the challenges of tomorrow’s cities,” emphasises Jean Beka, CEO of Smartnodes.

An acquisition in line with LACROIX Group’s Smart Cities growth strategy.

“The arrival of Smartnodes, following on from the group’s acquisition of Sogexi in 2016, strengthens our European leadership in the field of smart street lighting management. This is in line with the takeover of SAE IT-systems at the beginning of 2019 in support of our goal to become the technological equipment leader in the Smart Cities market,” says Vincent Bedouin, LACROIX Group’s Chairman and CEO.


LACROIX Group is an international technological equipment manufacturer, aiming to serve a connected and responsible world with its technical and industrial excellence. Registered as a family business, the Group is able to combine the agility necessary to innovate in a constantly changing technological world with the longterm vision to invest in and build the future.

LACROIX Group provides connected, secure equipment for the management of smart road infrastructure (street lighting, traffic management and regulation, signage, V2X) through LACROIX City and for the management of water and energy infrastructure through LACROIX Environment.

LACROIX Group also develops and produces electronic equipment for its automobile, home automation, aeronautics, industry and healthcare customers through LACROIX Electronics.

Far from having big futuristic plans which are totally unrealistic, the Group works with its customers and partners to link today’s world and tomorrow’s world. By helping them to build the industry of the future and to benefit from the innovation opportunities all around us, LACROIX Group provides the equipment for a smarter world.

The Group has its head office in Saint Herblain, and operates in France, Germany, Poland, Tunisia, Spain, Italy and Singapore. It has a turnover of €468 M. It is managed by Vincent Bedouin. 70% of its capital is family-owned and 30% is listed in Compartment C of Euronext. Further information:


Smartnodes is a company specialising in the development and marketing of communication modules fitted with sensors and edge-computing technology for Smart City solutions.  Smartnodes distributes its IOT products to public authorities, as well as to the private sector.

The company is based in Liège, Belgium.  Further information:

PRESS CONTACT: Giotto – Laure Desalins – +33 (0)6 66 27 21 62 –

Digital exams can contribute to a better quality of education

By Televic

Televic Education researched trends in and willingness to conducting digital exams in Flemish education.

Since a couple of years, digitalisation has been having a strong impact on our everyday lives. Not only can our children no longer be distracted from their loved screen, but digital tools and platforms are also omnipresent in the professional work context. Education cannot be left behind in this respect. This school and academic year, too, new digital steps are being taken to help improve the lives of teachers and pupils. In recent years, digital exams or e-assessments have become more and more important in education. In recent years, digital exams or eassessment have become more and more important in education.

Is it true that digital exams are on the rise? And what is the status of pen and paper exams in the Flemish classroom at the moment? Which issues can digital exams solve for schools and universities? And why is it that that e-assessment has only taken baby steps at various educational institutions? Software company Televic Education* searched for an answer to these questions. They published the results of their survey in a report.

Paper is still omnipresent

This survey shows that digital examination has already made its appearance in most educational institutions, but is rather limited in use. In general, digital exams remain subsidiary to ‘traditional’ paper exams. It is remarkable that no less than 20% of all surveyed educational institutions still exclusively conducts their exams on paper, and therefore has not yet taken any steps towards digital examinations.

In the remaining 80%, a limited form of digital examination has already been introduced, but not a single school entrusts its examinations to a digital platform to maximum extent. Paper therefore remains omnipresent.

E-assessment and digital exams contribute to a better quality of education

Yet there is some movement in the educational landscape when it comes to exams. At no less than 76% of the surveyed educational institutions, digital exams are one of the topics included in the strategic policy. These schools and universities mainly stress the advantage of saving time while creating and marking exams, and assume that the time freed up can then be invested in the quality of education. Joris Vanholme, Business Development Manager at Televic Education, confirms that this assumption is correct: “The time and insights that digital exams provide can be put to good use in the search for solutions to the challenges in education. After all, teachers, lecturers or professors cannot use the time they spend improving their course or their teaching approach, or enter entering into a dialogue with their students, … . I therefore strongly believe that, with the introduction of digital examination, the teacher will not have to work longer or more, but will be able to fill in their time more efficiently.”

“A unique opportunity to benchmark educational institutions”

Through numerous conversations in the context of, but also outside of this research, Televic Education gained more insight into the needs, wishes, practices and perceptions concerning digital exams in Flemish education. General Manager Stijn De Vleesschouwer: “Televic Educations can only make the right decisions in the further development of its e-assessment platform if it knows the needs and wishes of educational institutions. Our experience shows that the co-creation process, in which we involve our customers as much as possible in design decisions before we develop a feature, always leads to great added value for our customers. This research fits in perfectly with that process and offers educational institutions a unique opportunity to benchmark themselves.” For example, the study shows that as many as 70.4% of the surveyed educational institutions wants to invest in (new) e-assessment software in the future. One third of these schools and universities will already do so in 2019-2020.

The full report can be found in Dutch on the Televic Education website.

More information:
Stijn De Vleeschhouwer – General Manager, Televic Education – +32 495 58 48 54
Joris Vanholme – Business Development Manager, Televic Education – +32 476 86 47 35

More information about our digital exam solution at VIVES University of Applied Sciences (EN):

*Televic Education
Televic Education, owned by Lieven Danneels and Thomas Verstraeten and headquartered in Izegem, was founded in 1956 as part of the Televic Group. Televic Education is a world leader in the development and implementation of science-based educational solutions. More information on

Research Project Delivers New UQ Software

The numerical analysis and applied mathematics research group NUMA at KU Leuven has successfully developed a new Uncertainty Quantification (UQ) software package allowing for an efficient treatment of problems that depend on many uncertain parameters.

The research group had been part of the EUFORIA research project, an SBO project (Strategisch BasisOnderzoek or Strategic Basic Research) that ran from February 2015 through April 2019. Funded by IWT (now VLAIO), SBO projects support “high-quality level basic research with a pronounced focus on high-risk, inventive and original research and with a high and strategic valorization potential of the results in Flanders.” In this case, the project brought together academics from five institutions and worked with a “Users Committee” of Flanders-based companies to assess the project’s outcomes. The Users Committee members’ activities include domains as diverse as heat exchangers, computational physics (CFD), and software and energy engineering, ensuring that the project output would be widely applicable. One of the more extreme uses for the software, and one that eloquently illustrates how it works, involves designing earthquake-resistant structures. While certainly not the only application, it is an exciting advancement in civil engineering.

Uncertainty Quantification in earthquake-resistant structures

Inside Taiwan’s Taipei 101 building, one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, is a large metal sphere weighing 660 tons, mounted between the 88th and 92nd floor. This sphere is not an architectural frivolity but is one of the buildings’ key features. As earthquakes are common in east Taiwan, tall earthbound structures must be designed so that they can withstand the additional stresses produced inside their structural components. If those stresses become too large, the building might experience permanent damage or even collapse. The large sphere on top of the Taipei 101 is designed precisely to prevent such catastrophic events from happening. To that end, structural engineers who design such buildings must take into account the inherently uncertain nature of earthquakes, since no two earthquakes are ever identical and all differ in strength, vibration pattern and duration. To do so, engineers can resort to UQ, the study of the impact of imperfect information on the design of products or processes.

Earthquake modeling

To perform uncertainty quantification, one must have a mathematical model describing the impact of an earthquake on the horizontal motion of the building. In civil engineering, this motion is typically simulated using rigid body models for the building. Seismologists then describe the ground acceleration caused by earthquakes as a combination of many high-frequency components. Subsequently, the ground acceleration is used as input to the rigid body model. Together, the ground acceleration and building model form a mathematical model for the effect that an earthquake has on the building’s motion. In this mathematical model, the high-frequency components form the set of input parameters, whereas the model output – also termed the quantity of interest – is given by the maximum stress inside the building.

However, as every earthquake is unique, the maximum stress should be computed for a wide variety of possible model inputs. Consequently, these inputs now become uncertain parameters, and, as a result, the predicted output quantity (the maximum stress) also becomes uncertain. Instead of a single output value, the result is now specified as a distribution of potential output values. Determining the effect the uncertain parameters have on the distribution of the output quantity of interest is the main task of UQ.

It is an exciting advancement in civil engineering.

UQ – Monte Carlo methods to the rescue

Once the mathematical model is set up, the uncertainty quantification task can start. A very popular UQ technique is the brute-force Monte Carlo method, which repeatedly chooses a random value for each of the uncertain parameters. For each set of random input parameters, one computes the quantity of interest using the mathematical model. The obtained set of output values – sometimes called the ensemble – is then used to approximate the distribution of the quantity of interest. Unfortunately, it is well known that the Monte Carlo method suffers from a low efficiency: to get an additional digit of accuracy, the number of model evaluations must increase a hundredfold!

To remedy the inefficiency of the Monte Carlo method, about 10 years ago, multilevel methods were invented. Instead of only computing with the high accuracy model as in Monte Carlo, multilevel methods use many cheap-to-compute model evaluations with low accuracy, and subsequently add corrections from a hierarchy of models with increasing levels of accuracy – but also increasing computational cost. Each model in the hierarchy is referred to as a level, and, when combined with Monte Carlo, the method is called Multilevel Monte Carlo. In the context of earthquake-resistant buildings, a hierarchy of cheaper models can be obtained by varying, for example, the time increment used in the simulation of the earthquake-building model. Simulations with finer time steps yield more accurate results, but are also more expensive to compute.

It is important to stress that a multilevel method yields the same accuracy as the Monte Carlo method, but its computational cost is heavily reduced. For a simple one-story building model, for example, the distribution of the maximum stress inside the building subject to an earthquake-input with 1000 high-frequency components is computed almost 10 times faster with a 6-level method than with the original Monte Carlo method.

Open-source UQ software – MultilevelEstimators.jl

The multilevel Monte Carlo methodology for uncertainty quantification is implemented in an all-purpose Julia software library MultilevelEstimators.jl, created by NUMA. This freely available generic library focuses on the efficient computation of the distribution of a quantity of interest using multilevel methods.

Rightly so, the research group is proud of their achievement. They hope more applications for it will come to light as more audiences begin to use it. The software is both lightweight and flexible, with the major advantage that it wraps around an existing user code that is considered as a black box; no modifications to the user code are required! The software has proven to be significantly more efficient in several industrial cases and is now ready to be used in your application! If you want to try out the software in your own domain, have questions, or just want more information, feel free to get in touch with

Results from imec Smart City Meter 2019

by imec City of Things

The most important conclusion from the imec Smart City Meter 2019: the government can and must take the lead.

For the past three years, imec has been surveying the attitudes of people in Flanders and Brussels in relation to smart cities and the latest developments surrounding the topic. In doing so, we not only gauge people’s knowledge about the technology and the opportunities that the Smart City has to offer, but also its aims and shortcomings, such as people’s willingness to take part in research into the smart city or to provide data for smart city solutions. The most important conclusion from the imec Smart City Meter 2019: the government can and must take the lead. We listened to a conversation between Jan Adriaenssens, director City of Things at imec, and Pieter Ballon, director imec-SMIT and professor at VUB.

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Public space as a basic concept

Pieter: “Imec-SMIT has conducted the Smart City Meter for the past 3 years. This year, we surveyed some 2000 people from Flanders and Brussels. When I compare the results with three years ago, I am struck by the fact that many people’s knowledge of the subject has increased significantly. For example, they have become well aware that with a smart city, there is often a certain trade-off in terms of privacy. And they rightly view that with some suspicion. Many citizens are simply unable to come to terms with sharing details of their location, or having facial recognition cameras around the place. Yet they don’t totally slam the door closed against them. On the contrary, despite certain reservations or fears, more than 85% of the population believe that the smart city is a ‘positive to very positive’ development.”

Jan: “That’s right. What’s more, our report indicates that people are definitely prepared to make their personal data available in return for relevant functionalities, such as smart routes and a more livable city. By contrast, though, they are increasingly less willing to share their data for things as mundane as a discount voucher – and that can only be good news.”

Pieter: “The concept of ‘public space’ is also crucial here. Many people think it is all right for their actions in the public space to be picked up by smart technologies, such as having a street light to come on to illuminate the way for them when they pass by. A clear majority of those we surveyed are also okay about noise sensors in public areas, or with smart rubbish containers. But as soon as this intrudes into private space, their acceptance level diminishes. This also explains their reluctance to adopt technology such as smart assistants in the home, or smart meters.”

Jan: “So we also need to make sure that we keep an eye on maintaining privacy as much as possible in the public space. Which is where I see technology playing a major role. For instance, there are smart cameras that never actually pass on the images they film. These pictures are only processed and interpreted in the camera itself, which only sends messages such as ‘object deleted’ or ‘person fallen over’. That way, privacy is safeguarded to the maximum.”

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Invisible smart city

Pieter: “There’s another striking trend: the people in Flanders and Brussels believe far and away that mobility and livability are the most important areas in which smart cities should and must invest. These topics score much higher than areas such as safety and security, which is something the public debate about smart cities often involves.”

Jan: “This tends to confirm that we have made the right strategic choices by investing in research and solutions relating to air quality, traffic jams, smart routes and so on. People want cleaner public squares, healthier streets, districts where there is no noise pollution, etc. These are all virtually invisible solutions where the technology is not in the foreground, but still remains crucial for achieving our objectives. So, smart cities will not necessarily be ‘visibly smart’.”

Pieter: “Once again, the concept of ‘public space’ comes to the fore here. We expect more from our smart city than just getting smoothly from A to B. We also want it to address the whole context, because we have far less control over it.”

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Government as director, citizen as active participant

Jan: “This may also explain why the people we surveyed emphatically want the government to give direction to the whole thing. In s  mart cities it’s about capturing various types of behavior and solutions in the public space. And we’d rather have these issues managed by the government than by private organizations.”

Pieter: “The word ‘direction’ sums it up perfectly. That is the role that cities and local authorities – and by extension even whole regions – have to play. They are able to set the direction and the pace, depending on what their citizens want. But a film is not made by a director on his or her own: you also need actors and a large technical team behind you. And for us, this team is the companies and researchers, who can be driving forces with their input and insights.”

Jan: “So it is very important that we involve citizens as much as possible. Not only by surveying them, but also by telling them about what we are doing. For example, look at the way we all drive more slowly when the word SMOG is displayed underneath speed signs, simply because we understand why that particular warning is being shown. All of this becomes a little more difficult with AI and we have to stay vigilant for this.”

Pieter: “One final point worth noting is people’s high level of willingness to take part actively in experiments. 70 to 80% of respondents are prepared to participate in ‘citizen science’ initiatives, for example by installing a measuring station on the façade to take readings of air quality or other parameters. Half of them even say that they would like to tinker with a sensor themselves – which is an interesting thought!”

Read more about the results of the imec Smart City Meter 2019

Sigasi Presents a new Educational Program: everybody can be an XPRT now!

by Sigasi

Sigasi believes that students should get the best start in digital design and use the best tools during their education. Therefore, we decided to upgrade our Educational Program. As from September 2019, Sigasi provides Sigasi Studio XPRT to all students and teachers who join our Educational Program, free of charge. We are confident this will help students aim higher and become our next generation of technological inventors.

Why shouldn’t students and teachers have the best tools?

Sigasi Studio is the best tool for teaching and learning VHDL, Verilog and SystemVerilog. Students and teachers have been telling us this for years now.

Sigasi Studio shortens the feedback cycle, students learn faster, trivial errors are avoided and educators can focus on teaching the concepts of hardware design while Sigasi Studio assists to write correct syntax and code.

We too, at Sigasi, have been students not that longtime ago. That is why, since our start in 2008, we have always offered our educational licenses free of charge. We helped 1200+ educational institutions and sent out 5000+ educational licenses. Sigasi Studio is a must-have tool for all modern-day digital designers.

All that functionality at your fingertips

Individual students, professors and classrooms will now have all the features of Sigasi Studio XPRT available to them on PC, Mac or Linux. All you have to do is apply for your educational license.

Everybody knows the basic functions such as error checking, autocomplete and fast navigation, and will now also be able to work with:

  • Mixed language projects
  • Advanced linting
  • Net search
  • Integration with external tools Powerful visual feedback tools
  • Visualisation of your HDL code

 Let us learn from you

For educational licenses, talkback will be enabled. This is a Sigasi Studio service that automatically collects metadata about how Sigasi Studio is used. This metadata is sent to Sigasi through a secure connection. This will let us determine which features are heavily used and helps in planning which kind of features are valuable for you as Sigasi Studio user, so that we can adjust our product roadmap. We collect performance statistics, that we can relate to the project sizes. Together with our in-house performance tests, this helps us keep the Sigasi Studio compiler and user interface fast. We reduce software errors by collecting incident reports from a wide range of use cases.

Sigasi uses the information transmitted by Talkback for product planning and development. We use it for deciding which features to focus on and improve, for finding and fixing bugs and for finding and fixing performance issues. The end result is that you can use an ever-improving Sigasi Studio.

Request your educational license

You can visit this​ page to directly access the request form. Students will receive a 6 month node-locked license, teachers will receive a 1 year node-locked license. For classrooms, you will receive a floating license for 1 year. After your license expires and if you’re still learning or teaching, you’re welcome to request a new license.

Please complete all fields and use an email that is linked to an educational institution. One of our colleagues will be happy to approve your request.

Our educational program is for learning and teaching only. For academic research, we have a special pricing, contact us​ for more information.​

US city stakeholders open to collaborate with EU tech companies

US city

As well as in Europe, US cities are struggling with the challenges of urbanization and sustainability. A preparatory mission to the east coast of the US learned us that US city stakeholders are open to collaborate with EU tech companies to solve city challenges.

by DSP  Valley

For the moment, DSP Valley is preparing a mission to the east coast of the USA. This mission is taking place from September 15 to September 20, 2019. The exploratory talks DSP Valley, together with partners from SmartCityTech, had in New York and Boston last October are part of this preparation. Key conclusion of these talks is that US city stakeholders are open to collaborate with EU tech companies to build and implement solutions to city challenges. However, as in Europe, selling technology solutions requires time to build a trust relationship with potential customers. Therefore overseas business takes time, needs preparation and a structured approach. As cluster organization, DSP Valley sees it as its duty to support its members in these overseas activities.

Screening collaboration opportunities

The preparatory mission of October was setup to gather information on smart city opportunities on the US East Coast and lead to some specific first results which will flavor the September 2019 mission at which you are able to participate. In both New York city and Boston key US stakeholders will be involved to prepare for matchmaking activities, workshops and visits. The New York City Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology officer is screening collaboration opportunities in NYc. Besides that NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) is prepared to connect EU companies with stakeholders from New York, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester. The Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC) will host the EU delegation during the Horizon 19 conference in Boston, a global solutions platform for the clean economy. EU representations in New York city such as Flanders Investment & Trade, Belcham and the Swedish Chambre of Commerce will also be involved. Together with native service providers they will support the EU stakeholders who will further elaborate on business opportunities.

For technology companies with urbanization and sustainability solutions, our September 2019 mission is a unique opportunity.

Are you a technology company involved in solutions for renewable energy and smart grid, water treatment, cleantech, manufacturing, mobility and buildings? Then joining our September mission to the US might be a unique opportunity.

Are you interested or would you like to know more? Contact Mark De Colvenaer.

Smart Systems Summit 2018 – Compass on a smart planet

Smart System Summit 2018

Thursday, October 11, 8h45, a smooth drive to Eindhoven is the prelude to a rich and informative day at the Smart Systems Summit. To offer broad opportunities to matchmake, DSP Valley and Bits & Chips organize the event together. A report of a fruitful day.

by DSP Valley

The Van der Valk hotel, with its stately lounge with woodfire next to the entrance, is a marked change of the scenery for many DSP Valley attendants. Purpose of their day is an update on the latest evolutions in the smart systems market.

Arm sets the ball rolling

“To the day exact, 50 years ago, the first manned Apollo flight was launched. On board were 3 man and 1 flight computer with sensors and actuators. Quite literally an ‘edge’ computer with a mere 12 300 transistors, it needed sustained connectivity to earth to really be able to navigate the skies; the IBM computing system in Houston crunched sensor data, augmented with context, and uploaded indispensable additional guidance. A tiered, intelligent system – long before IoT. When 12 300 transistors can take you to the moon and back, think about today’s possibilities…”

After this short welcome by Dieter Therssen, CEO of DSP Valley, it is the Chairman of this Summit, Aad Vredenbregt, owner of ValOli and VP Bizdev at coMakeIT, who introduces the keynote speakers.

Jürgen Jagst outlines the opportunities for the smart industry of tomorrow

First on is Jürgen Jagst, senior manager automotive at arm. During his talk, Jürgen Jagst outlines the opportunities he sees for the smart industry in the society of tomorrow. Several macro-observations are discussed and documented, such as the escalating costs of designing solutions for volume markets, and the stalled cost-benefit of finer technology nodes since 28nm – cost per gate became essentially flat. There is a strong likelihood that after 10 years of customization wave (SoC and SiP for mobile market), we have embarked on 10 years of a ‘standardization’ trend with highly flexible devices for IoT applications. The silicon pendulum always seems to swing back.

We might have embarked on 10 years of a ‘standardization’ trend with highly flexible devices for IoT applications.

“We are living in interesting times”, Jürgen Jagst concludes ”, with innovation speed accelerating, China investing heavily in silicon technology, software more than ever becoming a key enabler, and – after the silicon industry consolidation wave – a consolidation ahead amongst platform and services players.” As if he was able to predict the very recent acquisition of the largest, independent Open Source company by IBM.

Microfsoft takes an open stance

After the 10 ‘o clock break Katrien De Graeve, IoT tech solutions architect at the Global Black Belt team of Microsoft brings the second keynote. She openly shares lessons learned from many actual implementations of IoT solutions. What are the challenges with digital transformation, what are the values realized when done properly? With Microsoft’s “Ignite” annual innovation showcase just 2 weeks earlier, a lot of new things and updates are introduced. Not in the least the investment commitment and strong emphasis Microsoft is putting on IoT solution enablers; cloud, security, AI, edge computing. Digital Twins are introduced as a concept to allow modeling the physical environment before connecting devices to that model. This facilitates factoring in ‘context’, ‘people’ and ‘spaces’ into the solution.

With Microsoft’s “Ignite” annual innovation showcase just 2 weeks earlier, a lot of new things and updates are introduced.

Katrien De Graeve also presents Azure IoT Central, a fully managed SaaS offering, which abstracts cloud intricacies from novel or novice users and helps them build compelling IoT scenarios. IoT Edge and Azure Sphere are introduced as platforms on the edge of the system, embracing – or at least supporting – Linux, and Docker containers. As perhaps best illustrated by its acquisition of GitHub, Microsoft seems to gradually take a more open stance and, on this summit too, Katrien De Graeve invites companies present to enter in discussion and join the ecosystem.

Katrien De Graeve of Microsoft invites companies present to enter in discussion and join the ecosystem.

Indeed, Microsoft as well as arm are looking for new ideas and companies to work with, and after the keynotes and during lunch both Katrien De Graeve and Jürgen Jagst take their time to visit the exhibition and interact with the attendants.

“Rock-solid” presentations

After the keynotes are delivered, the participants split up and choose a presentation of their interest. The selection to choose from is quite diverse. There is Georgi Gayadadjiev from Maxeler. He kicks off in the Technologies for the IoT-track and demonstrates the advantages and the importance of cumulonimbus cloud systems and how that interface only captures the information you really need. After lunch, Robbert Lohmann from 2getthere explains how his company will integrate autonomous systems operating on public roads without safety driver or steward and uses his project at Brussels Airport as an example. In Smart Health, Nico Zeeders and Olesya Bliznyuk from Unitron tell the listeners what to pay attention to when bringing medical solutions to the European market. DSP Valley-members are also well represented in the pack of speakers. Peter Schepers from Itility takes IoT into the sky, Ramses Valvekens (easics) and Daan Gheysens (Robovision) tell us more on deep learning on FPGA in the case automated optical inspection (AOI) . And much more. The overall impression: a strong program with a high level of speeches. Or as one of the participants expresses it: “The quality of the speakers and their presentations is rock-solid”.

Overall impression of the different tracks: A strong program with a high level of speeches.

Members and start-ups take the floor

In between the different presentations, there is time for visiting the different booths and for networking. Next to members as Thaumatec, Itility and Achilles Design, there is also room for start-ups. Crodeon presents its hardware for IoT in the farming industry, Ivex shows how it programs the behavior of autonomous vehicles, Pozyx demonstrates its capabilities to track people and objects all over the world. And Epihunter exihibits the tool with which it monitors invisible epileptic seizures. Because the company has been in the news lately with this new technology, Ephihunter also gets the chance to give a presentation on the technology in the Smart Health-track.

In between the presentations, there is time for visiting the different booths and for networking.

Young blood showcases smart cars

To top off the conference, a display of the innovative power of young teams is presented in the form of 2 advanced vehicles from KU Leuven and the Eindhoven university of technology.

The solar vehicles presented by KU Leuven and the Eindhoven university both won first prizes.

The “Stella” from TU/E is the prototype solar car that led to the ’Lightyear‘ vehicle presented by Arjo van der Ham in the mobility track. The team has been multiple winner of the Solare Challenge, and the car demonstrated raced 3 000 kilometers across the Australian outback to win the World Solar Challenge in October of 2017.

The “Pulse” from KU Leuven is this year’s contender in the Formula Electric for students. It is equipped with novel, artificial intelligence-based cooling technology and comprehensive telemetry, and won the 2018 First Prize for the design at the Formula Student Competition in the Czech Republic.

A great way to end the day, over a bite and a drink, having some concluding discussions, before heading home and let it all sink in.