The Walloon WSL incubator is increasingly eyeing foreign countries

After a good year in 2022, managers at Wallonia’s tech incubator WSL are expecting headwinds this year. In particular, they will have to play the internationalization card more.

Despite a small air pocket in recent years, Walloon tech incubator WSL expects an increase of around 20% in turnover Accumulated technology companies supported in 2022, managers of the Walloon public tool said Thursday in Namur.

Last year, the WSL completed 73 long-term and 75 short-term partnerships. About 13 new projects joined the community member structures, 50% of these projects offering developments in the health technology segment – MedTech –said Didier Leboutte and Agnès Flémal, president and general manager of the WSL respectively, referring to “a year of consolidation and growth”.

According to the latest available data, which date from 2021, the cumulative turnover represented by WSL achieves €171 million for 1,475 full-time equivalents created and 92% deal survival rate. About seventy young technologists benefited from the incubator’s services last year, some of them opting for an extended stay – paid – within the structure, which continues to diversify its offer.

171

million

The accumulated turnover represented by WSL reached 171 million euros.

Agnès Flémal particularly praised the dynamism of the Startech competition, a training program for engineering students. Around 500 young people participated in the tenth edition of this program that allows aspiring entrepreneurs to share their ideas during missions led by Awex at Texas A&M University. Three winners from a previous edition who created a start-up developing assisted reality glasses (Do it your way) they are now housed in the incubator, proof that the program is working.

soft landing

Agnès Flémal also mentioned the program called Soft Landing carried out with Awex, which aims to foreign technology start-ups, with the aim of luring them to Wallonia and making it their backbone for Europe. So far, only two foreign companies have decided to settle in the south of the country, but the head of WSL announces that two Canadian startups will take the risk.



“Mutual funds have raised their standards.”

Agnes Flemal

WSL Director

These positive notes do not prevent those responsible for the Walloon technology incubator from pointing out a series of risks that will not make your job easier. Among them is access to finance. “Mutual funds have raised their standards,” said Agnès Flémal. “Funds, including public funds, prefer to wait for the second round, when the project is more risky,” she said.

To face these headwinds, the WSL intends to increase its specializations in certain sectors of activity, namely in the area of ​​medical technologies and connected medicine, where collaborations will be established with clusters in France, Switzerland, UK and Germany. Another example of greater internationalization is the Diana project, in which the WSL participates and which aims to accelerate innovation defense in NATO countries, creating disruptive start-ups.

The summary

  • Despite the crisis, WSL, the technology incubator for Walloon entrepreneurs, ended 2022 on a positive note.
  • This good bulletin, however, does not immunize the WSL economic, financial and competitive risks related to the global economy.
  • The internationalization of structures and programs will be developed, as well as collaborative experience on behalf of third parties including NATO as part of the Diana project.

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