SmartSprout: sensor-integrated resource efficiency and quality control

SmartSprout is a validation project in the S3Food project applying smart vision technology to the trimming of brussels sprouts, using sensor-integrated visual inspection and sorting. That way SmartSprout intends to optimize the key priorities for food processors: resource efficiency and quality control. The project aims to reduce waste and manual labour and to generate reliable data to secure consistent food quality and traceability.

Using a solution based on a ‘sproutcam’, sorting carrousel and trimming machine, the objective is to minimize food waste, ensure uniform quality and increase processing capacity with less labour requirements. The system will also provide detailed data on food safety and process performance.

TechNature – a producer of high-tech solutions for the agri-food market and the lead SME- anticipates the system will benefit processing companies, retailers and consumers. TechNature is collaborating with Bac Investments, which processes agricultural products at facilities in Poland. Both partners are based in The Netherlands.

Verhaert acquires Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship to help customers boost their capacity to innovate

Verhaert Masters In Innovation is pleased to announce it has acquired the German-based, but globally operating company ‘Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship’ (AfCE). The acquisition will increase Verhaert’s comprehensive capabilities to help clients boost their capacity to innovate.

Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship

AfCE helps corporate organizations to innovate and increase their entrepreneurial capacity by building innovation teams, e-courses, kick box, incubation and acceleration programs. The company operates globally and consists of a team of more than 40 senior innovation mentors. Its curriculum is based on over 200 online tutorials, courses, tools and tests, boosting the capacity to innovate of their customers and bringing their groundbreaking ideas forward.

Jan Kennedy, founder of AfCE says: “The last 7 years have been an incredible journey for AfCE, developing and testing rigorous intrapreneurship programs and courses across more than 35 corporate clients with teams in over 24 countries. None of this would have been possible without our core team members and partners, our dedicated mentors and our early adopter clients looking to improve and formalize innovation from within. Thank you to our customers for their continued support!”

In 2014 AfCE was founded with the idea that the high failure rate of corporate innovation initiatives could be turned upside down. By combining purpose-built online education, structured expert mentoring processes and rapid pretotyping resources the company created rigorous and compelling corporate accelerator and incubation programs. Through the programs and customizable e-learning courses, AfCE has made intrapreneurship accessible for all employees and more result-driven for any organization. 

Acquisition by Verhaert Masters in Innovation

AfCE and Verhaert Masters in Innovation are highly complementary. The acquisition will allow the group to expand its capacity to help customers with innovation management. Kennedy continues: “I want to assure our customers that the AfCE services and brand are not going anywhere. Our entire core team and mentors will be transitioning to Verhaert over the following months. I will still oversee our key accounts for some significant time to come and I will be relinquishing the CEO role to Stijn Smet. He has over 10 years of experience in innovation management and has been leading Verhaert’s business innovation consulting team. He is also the author of ‘Building Tomorrow‘, a pragmatic and systematic approach to tackling innovation challenges in the public sector.”

Koen Verhaert, CEO of the Verhaert Masters in Innovation group further elaborates: “The corporate innovation space is rapidly expanding as more and more companies recognize the potential threat of rising start-ups and the changing digital landscape. They seek a more entrepreneurial mindset and skillset, to create and manage portfolios of innovation projects across business units by leveraging their own employees. With 90% of corporate innovation projects typically failing, AfCE has mastered a strategy combining mentoring with educational content. This drastically increases the success rate of innovation projects with employees, delivering millions in value to clients and positively impacting employee career paths. Due to the restrictions of the pandemic, AfCE also offers a fully digital approach with online training and mentoring. This provides a great opportunity to Verhaert to further internationalize and help overseas teams to boost their capacity to innovate.”

Stijn Smet, director of Verhaert Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship adds: “Together with Verhaert we will be able to offer even more complete end-to-end innovation solutions, including product development and pilot production, R&D operations and innovation labs, key technology expertise, start-up ecosystem outreach as well as go-to-market services. Both AfCE and Verhaert share a vision to improve the state of innovation so that key critical problems get solved, value and growth are created and employees feel more engaged and fulfilled.”

– – – – – –

About Verhaert Masters in Innovation
Since 1969 Verhaert Masters in Innovation is a pioneer in the field of product innovation. As a leading innovation group in integral product development, Verhaert helps companies and entrepreneurs to develop and execute successful innovation projects. The group now has more than 200 employees with offices in Kruibeke, Gentbrugge, Kortrijk, Nivelles, Noordwijk, Utrecht and Aveiro.

– – – – – – –

Nicky Sterck
Communications at Verhaert Masters in Innovation
+32 491 24 98 64

Stijn Smet
Director Verhaert Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship at Verhaert Masters in Innovation
+32 473 98 98 41

DSP Valley is one of FIT’s strategic partners again

Dieter Therssen at the Flemish Government Errerahuis alongside Jan Jambon and Claire Tillekaerts

We’re thrilled! In November, we officially renewed our structural partnership with Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT)

#FlandersAccelerates: with this strategy FIT brings Flanders’ economy to new international heights. To make it happen, the government agency is uniting a new team of 21 structural partners. And we’re proud to be part of it!

As a structural partner of FIT for the next 5 years (2022-2026), we’ll help drive Flanders’ economy forward. On November 25th, our CEO Dieter Therssen signed the partnership agreement in the presence of Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon and FIT CEO Claire Tillekaerts.

Proud and excited to partner up with FIT and the rest of the motivated partners on the team!

Discover how these partnerships contribute to more internationalization, growth, jobs and prosperity:
Check it out in Dutch here:

We’re in good company alongside:
AgoriaBelgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce – BCECCBelgian Vietnamese Alliance – Chamber of Commerce & Industry BE-LU-VN, BICCI, Blauwe Cluster (Blue Cluster) vzwessensciaFedustriaFevia Vlaanderenflanders.healthTechflanders.bioFlemish Games Associationflux50MedTech FlandersStrategic Initiative Materials (SIM)The Beacon | Innovation Community UNIZO-INTERNATIONAAL – UNIZO-INTERNATIONALVKW LimburgFlanders-China Chamber of Commerce (FCCC)VIL, & Voka-Vlaams netwerk van ondernemingen

ICsense expands IC design activities & opens office in Ghent, Belgium

ICsense, the Leuven-based IC design house and TDK Group Company, expands its activities to meet the sustained surge in IC demand, among others from European car manufacturers and medical equipment suppliers. Therefore, it now also opens an office in Ghent, a location at the heart of a premier knowledge region that will also enable to recruit additional talent. ICsense is a European market leader in the design of application-specific chips – ASICs – for smart, sustainable electronics. An experienced team, an inclusive startup mentality, and the backing of the Japanese TDK Corporation ensure growth and a bright future for many years to come.

ICsense designs chips and sensors that are at the heart of electric and self-driving vehicles, medical equipment and implants, and other smart electronics. They are essential in the transition to a smarter and more sustainable environment. With demand for chips picking up sharply and geopolitics challenging the electronics world, this is the perfect opportunity for a European market leader such as ICsense to take the challenge and expand. 

Bram De Muer, CEO of ICsense: “With this expansion we demonstrate both our leadership and ambition. And with the new office, we also gain access to the expertise and talent pool of the Ghent region. A region which alongside Leuven is an important education and knowledge cluster for new technologies. Newly graduated engineers and experienced designers can come and work with us on projects with real impact, and at the same time bolster their careers.”  

Keywords for everyone working at ICsense are Innovation, Excellence, and Trust. These have enabled the group of 90 highly-skilled engineers to grow into Europe’s leading fab-independent IC designer.

Marijke Tuerlinckx, HR Manager at ICsense: “We welcome anyone with the right skills and an eagerness to learn. For us, it is a key concern to offer new employees an interesting growth path and to make them feel welcome in our group. Therefore, we have a system of personal mentors and we organize continued deep training. We do that for all new employees, whether they have just graduated, have had their first work experience, or have already been working for a longer period. The result is that ICsense has become a really close-knit group of colleagues. With the new office in the Zuiderpoort complex, we provide our people with a second pleasant workplace, a place that is easily accessible to everyone, whether they come by bus, train, car or bicycle.”

About ICsense

ICsense, headquartered in Leuven (Belgium), is an independent subsidiary of the TDK Group and Europe’s premier IC design company. ICsense’s core business is ASIC development and supply and custom IC design services. ICsense has the largest fab-independent European design group with world-class expertise in analog, digital, mixed-signal and high-voltage IC design. The company develops and supplies customer exclusive ASIC solutions for the automotive, medical, industrial and consumer market compliant with ISO9001, ISO13485, IEC61508-ISO26262.

About TDK Corporation

TDK Corporation is a world leader in electronic solutions for the smart society based in Tokyo, Japan. Built on a foundation of material sciences mastery, TDK welcomes societal transformation by resolutely remaining at the forefront of technological evolution and deliberately “Attracting Tomorrow.” It was established in 1935 to commercialize ferrite, a key material in electronic and magnetic products. TDK’s comprehensive, innovation-driven portfolio features passive components such as ceramic, aluminum electrolytic and film capacitors, as well as magnetics, high-frequency, and piezo and protection devices. The product spectrum also includes sensors and sensor systems such as temperature and pressure, magnetic, and MEMS sensors. In addition, TDK provides power supplies and energy devices, magnetic heads and more. These products are marketed under the product brands TDK, EPCOS, InvenSense, Micronas, Tronics and TDK-Lambda. TDK focuses on demanding markets in automotive, industrial and consumer electronics, and information and communication technology. The company has a network of design and manufacturing locations and sales offices in Asia, Europe, and in North and South America. In fiscal 2021, TDK posted total sales of USD 13.3 billion and employed about 129,000 people worldwide.

Press contact
Jeroen Van Ham
ICsense NV
Gaston Geenslaan 14
3001 Leuven, Belgium
T. +32 16 58 97 00

Silicon Europe Alliance Statement Regarding European Chips Act

EU Chips Act and Silicon Europe Alliance Member logos

Today, 8 Feb 2022, the European Commission unveiled EU Chips Act, a package of proposals, initiatives, and regulations for the semiconductor industry across the member states. As President von der Leyen pointed out when she announced the ambition to craft a European “chips” strategy, “There is no digital without chips. … [W]e need to radically raise Europe’s game on the development, production and use of this key technology.”

The Silicon Europe Alliance strongly supports this initiative. It is vital that Europe support its semiconductor industry and strengthens its resilience. The entire value chain, from chip design and manufacture to end-users must be fostered within Europe. As an alliance that represents clusters whose focus is Europe’s active small and medium enterprise (SME) community, Silicon Europe hopes to see further development of mechanisms, strategies, and (reworked) regulations specifically helpful to these companies. Connecting these energetic and agile businesses – an integral part of the European economy – with the semiconductor business value chain at the ground level is indispensable.

Equally, we find it vital to any European chips actions to create durable and healthy relationships between manufacturers and end-users. Cultivating strong ties between those who manufacture chips and those who use them is the only way to ensure a more efficient semiconductor industry in Europe.

As a member of the Silicon Europe Alliance, we at DSP Valley are happy to share this message, and to continue to build a strong ecosystem among Europe’s leading digital technology clusters. The time is now to build on our foundation to help create a future-proof Europe!

You can click here to read the EU Commission’s press release and the accompanying texts.

Dessert production performance based on cloud-assessment

Over the last few years the production of dessert company Dulcegrado has been growing steadily. Now it will analyze the current production system and evaluate the effects of possible modifications in the production process, such as the employment of a HTST pasteurizer.

This is a cross-sectoral collaboration initiative, between companies of Clusaga and ASINCAR, including Dulcegrado, AOTECH and the Galician SME Glaucor.

The project, which has been awarded an S3Food application voucher of up to 180,000 euros, consists of the development of a system to automate the collection of data in the process of dairy production, energy supply and quality control, which will be analyzed on an Internet of Things (IoT) cloud platform.

Through this system and with the introduction of Near Infrared (NIR) technology, a characterization of the production can be obtained, in terms of energy costs and performance, to optimize the use of ingredients and achieve savings in the use of these.

Detecting production problems with AI

In the food production industry it’s key to detect production issues and bad products. The longer detection takes, the more production time is lost and the higher the cost of production.

Within the S3Food project NDUX -a company in Haaltert, Belgium- will create a framework using a data-driven process monitoring tool. With this tool they will allow food production companies to have more control of their own production processes.

With this framework a company gets insights in how production monitoring can be done and which parameters are relevant. This way a company can take the needed steps to go from reactive production monitoring towards data-driven production monitoring.

By using the framework for their own production processes, this project allows each production company to improve resource efficiency, quality control, food safety and traceability challenges.

Safety through packing line automation system

Doroti Pack, a Hungarian packaging machine specialist wants to improve the working conditions for operators of packing line automation systems of chicken wings significantly. ImProWings is the name of this S3Food funded project. Doroti Pack aims to achieve several goals in one by developing a new packing line automation system. In addition to improving the working conditions for the operators, Doroti Pack wants to reduce energy consumption by 30% and cut 20% off packing costs.

Working with applied research partner Bay Zoltán Nonprofit Ltd, Doroti will draw on computer vision software and AI to determine the position and orientation of chicken wings on the line. This data will then be applied to coordinate a robotic gripper arm, which will place the wings in trays. The smart solution will enable fast, hygienic and high-quality packing with minimal health risk for operators. Industrial trials will ensure the solution’s stability.

Characterisation technology turns waste streams virtually inside out

Today many recycling companies struggle with the value assessment of complex material streams. The main issues are the costly and labour-intensive sampling procedures and subsequent chemical analysis, leading to long waiting times (often several weeks) and the associated financial uncertainty. 

To counter this, VITO initiated the development of an in-line characterisation technology. This way, heterogenous and complex material streams can be assessed completely – eliminating the need for subsampling – and mass-balances can be produced ‘on-the-fly’. In fact, for each material particle a ‘digital twin’ is created which can be further assessed in a virtual way. In this technology, the heterogenous waste particles are dispersed on a conveyor belt as a mono-layer and scanned using X-rays, a 3D laser scanner and a colour camera. Using artificial intelligence, the device recognizes the individual particles and assigns several important physical parameters: size, mass, shape, material, texture, etc.

The technology has been successfully scaled up from ‘scan-the-bucket’ to ‘scan-the-truck’ as was recently demonstrated during 2 large-scale demo events. For different metal-rich material streams, VITO was able to showcase the industrial relevance of the new characterisation technology. To take on this challenge, VITO partnered with Ghent University and two industrial partners, Suez and Umicore, in the CHARAMBA project. This project has been supported by the European funds from the EIT Raw Materials, which aims to support good ideas and innovations and bring them to the market.

After project completion, VITO wishes to introduce the innovative technology as a service to the market and subsequently launch a spin-off company selling tailor-made in-line characterisation devices to several players in the metal recycling market.

Interested in learning more about the technology?
Contact Kris Broos ( ) or visit the VITO website

Early Detection of Omicron facilitated with Emweb’s Genome Detective

During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, genomic epidemiological surveillance around the world is crucial to monitor the emergence of new variants of interest or concern. Emweb’s Genome Detective is contributing to SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance around the globe with its intuitive bioinformatics platform and genomic database. Genome Detective accurately and quickly assembles viruses to characterize the mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Professor Tulio de Oliveira, the director of the Centre for Epidemic Response & Innovation (CERI) (Stellenbosch, South Africa), started sampling SARS-CoV-2 genomes early in the pandemic for this purpose, and used Genome Detective to discover the Beta and Omicron variants.

Emweb is a Leuven (Belgium) based bioinformatics company offering Genome Detective, founded by two KULeuven alumni Koen Deforche and Wim Dumon. Emweb’s Genome Detective bioinformatics software can be used to analyze and identify viruses in sequenced samples. The utility of sequencing became even more evident in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, as sequencing enabled the unbiased discovery, identification and surveillance of the pathogen causing COVID-19, the creation of SARS-CoV-2 detection tools (PCR tests), and even the start for the development of vaccines.

During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Professor Tulio de Oliveira analyzed tens of thousands of SARS-CoV-2 samples leading to the detection of the Beta variant of concern (December 2020), and more recently the discovery of the new Omicron variant in South Africa. Professor Tulio de Oliveira recognizes the quality of Genome Detective: “As one looks back on the last 20 months of genomics work on the COVID-19 pandemic, one realizes the crucial need for quick and accurate bioinformatics software. We could not really have done what we did without the support of Genome Detective.”. In addition to the groundbreaking work of professor Tulio de Oliveira in South Africa, many other laboratories throughout the world were enabled in this pandemic to analyze their genomic SARS-CoV-2 data using Genome Detective, by virtue of its ease of use.

Before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the analysis of viral samples with Genome Detective was already regularly used in South Africa and South America, mainly in the context of HIV, Zika, and Dengue related epidemiological research. The experience in this field and collaborations with many universities over the world shaped Genome Detective into a reliable and well-known bioinformatics pipeline.

Genome Detective will continue to support the genomic surveillance of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and contribute to the creation of bioinformatics applications and databases for infectious diseases in research and diagnostic settings.