Looking back on 2020 is like the disentanglement of many intertwined colours on a painter's palette. In a complex society, the economy was already under severe pressure and at the beginning of 2020 we were confronted with COVID-19, a crisis of global proportions. In the search for the delicate balance between man, economy and planet, the government imposed measures on us that impaired us throughout the year. Corona exposed our weaknesses and put us to the test both as individuals and as a society. But there is hope. Large-scale vaccination is a sustainable solution that can be sustained and that can allow us to lead society rather than a virus.
Yet we must not be negative and look back on what a year of decline could be. After all, in spite of everything, 2020 has been positive on some fronts. The publication of the Cleantech report 2020 was a highlight. Because - all the more so in uncertain times - the international dimension of entrepreneurship needs to be given extra attention, Cleantech Flanders has clearly brought together the support measures for SMEs with international ambitions. Not only European and Flemish support - including the Green Deals - but also provincial support for innovation and entrepreneurship are an absolute necessity if we are to survive in the longer term. We also feel strengthened by the support measures that Flanders Investment &Trade has just announced.
In times of crisis, everything that is superfluous is eliminated first. Cleantech is not one of them! On the contrary. After all, this crisis has taught us a great deal. Cleantech is paving the way for the future. It is precisely for this reason that innovative cleantech has a bright future. That is not unconditional. Business as usual is no longer an issue. Moreover, we must now take great care that nothing stands in the way of the growth of our vulnerable start-ups and scale-ups. After all, they offer the solutions of the future and they are the employers of tomorrow. Cleantech Flanders is not only there for them, but makes its services available to all innovative partners, including those with international ambitions.
So much for 2020. Like you, Cleantech Flanders is eager to say goodbye to the year 2020 and start the new year with a white sheet. Over the past few months, we have had the opportunity not only to evaluate where we are today with Cleantech Flanders, but also what direction we want to take in the coming years.
Internationalisation, hand in hand with our structural partner Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT), will become even more important. The development of Science & Technology Offices at FIT is an excellent opportunity to put Flemish cleantech even more on the world map together.
Community building is crucial in this respect and we want to be a solid platform where all your know-how is given a place, both at home and abroad. Our pillars are the various stakeholders. Cleantech Flanders wants to connect, get to know and promote you. In doing so, we want to collaborate with the spearhead clusters, government agencies, cleantech companies, research centres, knowledge centres, etc. This long list of organisations has a similar goal in mind. Together we can work towards a sustainable future.
By bringing together the cleantech community, we want to create a place where you can network, stay informed about what is going on in the sector, exchange ideas, ask questions... If we cannot help you directly, we will be happy to put you in contact with the right partners in the field.
As a result of COVID-19, trade missions and trade fairs will almost all be cancelled in 2020. However, they remain essential. In our action programme you will not only find our own actions, but also the partner actions we support or in which we are represented. Cleantech Flanders participates in these events and will thus also promote the partners and supporting partners as much as possible.
We are very much looking forward to seeing you again in 2021. Stay healthy, keep it safe and remain confident in a sustainable future!
Warm greetings from the entire Cleantech Flanders team!