Brussels loves AI

Why Brussels is the best place to open a European HQ for tech companies.

A recent report from EY shows that 2018 was an absolute record year for attracting foreign direct investments (FDI). A total of 278 foreign investment projects were initiated, representing a 29% increase on the previous year and creating an all-time high number of jobs (7,363). With this increase, Belgium is going against the European trend. More than 1500 international companies’ HQ are now already established in Brussels. The capital of Europe has everything a company needs: an open economy, business incentives and services, a strong infrastructure, and a talent pool of multilingual, highly skilled professionals in all sectors. Being the world’s 2nd most cosmopolitan city and located at the crossroads of Western European cultures, this is actually not very surprising.

Belgium has also essential assets regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI). 
It has a tradition of world-class AI researchers, some of whom were at the cradle of artificial intelligence. Additionally, Belgium ranks 9th in the “Digital Economy and Society Index” within the EU with a society that largely embraces AI as a novel and promising technology rather than a threat.

The Brussels Region had a pioneering role in AI since long before it became a buzzword, hosting, for instance, the first academic laboratory dedicated to AI in Europe at the University of Brussels. The most active research groups are The IRIDIA laboratoryThe AI Experience Centre  and The Machine learning Group

Hugues Bersini

Prof Dr Hugues Bersini, founder of the AI lab of the ULB


Ingrid Daubechies

Prof Dr Ingrid Daubechies, The most cited Belgian mathematician, recognized for her study of the mathematical methods that enhance image-compression technology


Belgian employees are among the leaders in the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace. 54% of employees are already confronted with artificial intelligence at work or expect this to happen in the next two years. The Belgians are also predominantly positive about the use of AI at work. More than six in ten say that AI has a positive effect on their productivity. 

The Brussels Region also supports companies in their AI endeavours, both from innovation, technical, finance and a business point of view.

  1. Innoviris, the Brussels Region funding body, has been providing significant support to AI-related research and innovation, steadily ramping up its support programs in this field, with a dedicated budget of € 20M over the past 2 years. In particular, an AI call (“Team Up”) aimed at fostering collaboration between academia and industry was launched in 2017. This program reflects the Brussels Region approach to AI development, which emphasises collaborative research and open innovation.
  2. For the technical aspects, one can mention the leading role of Sirris Brussels, through its Elucidata laboratory, and of the Icity.Brussels technology hub, both co-funded by the Brussels Region and ERDF
  3. The group SRIB/GIMB aims at providing financial support for the creation, reorganisation or expansion of private companies located in the region. In addition to investment, they support entrepreneurs in all phases of their company’s development. BRUSTART provides financial solutions to young innovative companies that are in the launching or starting-up phase. It supports technological innovation through the seed-capital fund, which is directed towards spin-offs.
  4. As for the business aspects, the Region Brussels Capital launched in 2017 the plan coordinated by and gathers main entities involved in AI in the Region. Moreover, and its cluster provide tailor-made support and advice.


One other important aspect of the Brussels is their support for the Tech communities. The Region expects to continue building on the success of the Data Science Community, made of AI experts and practitioners. This community counts several thousand members and organizes more than a hundred events per year and one European Data Innovation Summit.
The region has co-financed a dedicated tech and starter Hub called DigitYser where communities can gather to boost their digital skills and raise awareness on AI and data literacy. 

DigitYser also is the regional driver of AI4Belgium the community-led approach to enable Belgian people and organisations to capture the opportunities of AI while facilitating the ongoing transition responsibly. AI 4 Belgium has the ambition to position Belgium in the European AI landscape. We are currently assisting the newly elected government to define their AI strategy based on the European recommendations.

The Brussels’ AI strategy is based on 6 pillars

  • Data literacy and AI training for all
  • Support R&D and promote innovation
  • Setting up a responsible data strategy and promote open data
  • Promote the use of AI in the private industries & SME’s
  • Promote the use of AI in the public sector
  • Position Brussels as the driving AI city of Europe 

More skills development is made possible with the development of new training programs, namely with the Microsoft AI School, the Big Data Bxl and AI Black Belt initiative.

3 tech hubs are promoting AI actively:

  • Becentral – The digital campus of Brussels
  • Betacowork – Coworking and Community for freelancers & entrepreneurs.
  • DigitYser – The home of the AI & datascience community in Brussels

Brussels and Antwerp are in the top 15 hubs of artificial intelligence talent in Europe, according to a new report from the international venture capital firm Atomico. That is one of the conclusions in ‘The State of European Tech‘, a new report from venture firm Atomico and the Finnish tech conference Slush published in 2016. Atomico and Slush use LinkedIn data as a source for their conclusions. To be more precise: cities with the highest amount of LinkedIn members with AI skills.

Our main argument is that Brussels is also a very pleasant place to live and a family-friendly environment blessed with a welcoming heart. A business city teeming with opportunities, but also a relaxing home, ideal for enjoying life’s sweeter side. Lying at the crossroads of Western Europe’s cultures while being home to so many citizens from all over the world definitely makes Brussels a human-sized global city where local culture and cosmopolitanism get along perfectly.

So in summary here are the top 7 reasons to put Brussels in your shortlist:

  1. Located in the centre of Europe, 
  2. Low cost of living and high quality of life,
  3. Available AI talent at an acceptable price 
  4. Top universities and innovation programs, 
  5. Practical Regional & Federal support, 
  6. Very active AI communities and expert groups
  7. Tech & starters’ hubs to host and support your new venture  

Looking at this it is not surprising that Brussels has become the best place to open a European HQ for a tech company.


About the author: 

Philippe Van Impe is the driver of the AI & data science community of Belgium, the founder of DigitYser – the tech & starters’ hub of Brussels and a business coach for companies who wants to start their European HQ in Brussels.


Evoliris Conference – DEC 7 – Big Data in Brussels.



À vos agendas ! Le mercredi 7 décembre se déroulera la conférence organisée par Evoliris – « Le Big Data à Bruxelles aujourd’hui ! Et demain ? »


 Mot de bienvenue et Introduction – Jean-Pierre Rucci, directeur Evoliris ; Floriane de Kerchove, Directrice Agoria et Présidente d’Evoliris

Présentation du rapport « Le Big Data à Bruxelles aujourd’hui. Et demain ? » Christina Galouzis Evoliris

Intervention en français

La conférence est l’occasion de présenter officiellement le premier numéro du cahier d’Evoliris. Notre premier sujet concerne une tendance technologique qui fait beaucoup parler d’elle : le Big Data. La présentation aborde les différents points développés dans le rapport en termes de politique sociale, d’emploi et de formations. Nous ferons ensemble le point sur les constats mais aussi sur les recommandations et conclusions afin d’initier une réflexion sur l’avenir du Big Data à Bruxelles.

« Big data, mais encore… une approche pragmatique s’impose ! » – Ferdinand Casier – Agoria

Intervention en français

Lors de cette présentation, plusieurs projets seront passés en revue afin de dégager les grandes tendances dans les projets « data » innovants. Nous verrons ensuite comment la région de Bruxelles-Capitale peut contribuer aux développements de son tissu socio-économique en utilisant toutes les ressources disponibles en matière d’analyse de données.

” Comment devenir un expert en science de la donnée en Belgique ?” – Philippe Van Impe – DIHub

Intervention en néerlandais

Cette présentation donne un aperçu de la manière dont un expert peut évoluer en un Data Scientist à part entière. Elle met également en évidence des communautés existantes de la Science des données et du Big Data ainsi que leurs activités pour aider les professionnels de la science des données à avoir l’expérience nécessaire pour occuper rapidement ce type de fonction.

Et conclusion par M. le Ministre Didier Gosuin, Ministre de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale Emploi, Economie, Formation Professionnelle



 Où ? Au Diamant Building, Salle Baekeland, Bd A. Reyers 80 – 1030 Bruxelles

Quand ? Le mercredi 07 décembre 2016 de 9h à 14h30

Merci de nous faire parvenir votre réponse pour  au plus tard le 28 novembre 2016

+32 (0)2 475 20



Conferentie Evoliris :  “Big Data in Brussels vandaag. En morgen?

Met de medewerking van de heer Minister Didier Gosuin – 7 december 2016

Diamant Building, Zaal Baekeland, A. Reyerslaan 80 – 1030 Brussel

Mis dat niet! Op woensdag 7 december organiseert Evoliris de conferentie “Big Data in Brussel vandaag. En morgen?


Welkom en inleiding door Jean-Pierre, Directeur Evoliris;  Floriane de Kerchove, Directeur Agoria en Voorzitter van Evoliris 

Voorstelling van het rapport “Big Data in Brussel vandaag. En morgen?” door Christina Galouzis, Evoliris 

Voorstelling in het Frans

Ter gelegenheid van deze conferentie stellen we u “Evoliris zoomt in…” voor. In dit eerste rapport uit de reeks, willen we het hebben over een technologische ontwikkeling waar heel veel over wordt gesproken: Big Data. We benaderen het gegeven vanuit verschillende oogpunten; sociaal, tewerkstelling, en opleidingen. En ten slotte formuleren we ook een aantal conclusies en aanbevelingen over de toekomst van Big Data in Brussel.


 “Big Data… zei u? Een pragmatische aanpak, graag! – Ferdinand Casier, Agoria

Voorstelling in het Frans

Gedurende de presentatie zullen verschillende projecten besproken worden om van daaruit grote lijnen te identificeren die kunnen leiden tot innoverende “data” projecten. We bespreken dan ook hoe het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest haar steentje kan bijdragen tot socio-economische ontwikkelingen door alle middelen te gebruiken om aan data-analyse te doen.

“Hoe wordt men een Data Science expert in België” – Philippe Van Impe – DIHub

Voorstelling in het Nederlands

In deze presentatie geven we een overzicht van hoe een expert kan evolueren tot een volwaardige data scientist. Er wordt vooral ingegaan op de state of the art van data science en de Big Data community. Verder komen ook activiteiten aan bod waardoor data science professionals de nodige ervaring kunnen opdoen om direct inzetbaar te zijn op de arbeidsmarkt.

Het slotwoord komt van de heer Didier Gosuin, Minister van het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest inzake Tewerkstelling, Economie, en Professionele Opleiding.


Waar? Diamant Building, Zaal Baekeland, A. Reyerslaan 80 – 1030 Brussel

Wanneer ? woensdag, 7 december 2016 van 9 tot 14.30 uur

Uw antwoord zien wij graag tegemoet voor maandag 28 november

+32 (0)2 475 20 00 –

OCT20 – FREE Meetup about Process Mining @VUBrussel

process mining.png

18:30 Update on the activities of the Data Science Community

Confirmed speakers:

19:00 Jochen De Weerdt (KU Leuven) : Process mining – Making data science actionable

19:30 Mieke Jans (UHasselt): The art of building valuable event logs out of relational databases

20:00 Pieter Dyserinck (ING) & Pieter Van Bouwel (Python Predictions): Process mining, the road to a superior customer experience

20:30 Open discussion and flash presentations. Startups welcome.

20:40 Networking and drinks @ ‘t Complex situated above the swimming pool

Reserve your seat here

Summer Data Science activities in Belgium.

summer edition

We wish you happy holidays, in case you get bored check out our educational channel on youtube.

The European Data Innovation Hub is active during the summer.
Here is a short update from what to expect in the coming weeks:

Thank you for supporting the European Data Innovation Hub, we had a great academic year.

Philippe Van Impe

Please forward the information about the data science bootcamp to your peers and friends.

How to innovate in the Age of Big Data presented by Stephen Brobst


Executive Summer Session

Stephen Brobst will be at the European Data Innovation Hub. We asked him to share his views on the importance of open data, open source, analytics in the cloud and data science. Stephen is on the forefront of the technology and we can’t wait to hear what is happening in the Silicon Valley. Count on it that you will leave the workshop inspired and weaponed with some actionable ideas that will help us to define a profitable strategy for the data science teams.

Format of the session :

  • 15:00 – Keynote:How to innovate in the Age of Big Data
  • 15:50 – Open Discussion on “Sustainable Strategies for Data Science, tackling following topics:
  • Data Science is the Key to Business Success
  • Three Critical Technologies Necessary for Big Data Exploitation
  • How to Innovate in the Age of Big Data
  • 16:45 – Networking Session

Stephen Brobst is the Chief Technology Officer for Teradata Corporation.  Stephen performed his graduate work in Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where his Masters and PhD research focused on high-performance parallel processing. He also completed an MBA with joint course and thesis work at the Harvard Business School and the MIT Sloan School of Management.  Stephen is a TDWI Fellow and has been on the faculty of The Data Warehousing Institute since 1996.  During Barack Obama’s first term he was also appointed to the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) in the working group on Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD).  He was recently ranked by ExecRank as the #4 CTO in the United States (behind the CTOs from, Tesla Motors, and Intel) out of a pool of 10,000+ CTOs.

Launching the first Data Science Bootcamp in Europe

We are so happy to launch the first European  data science bootcamp

It is so nice to write this page on the launch of the first European data science bootcamp that will start this summer in Brussels. This initiative will boost the digital transformation effort of each company by allowing them to improve their data skills either by recruiting trainees and young graduates or transforming existing BI teams to become experienced business data scientists.

Intense 5+12 weeks approach to focus on practical directly applicable business cases.

The content of this bootcamp originated from the Data Science Community. Following the advice of our academic,  innovation and training partners we have decided to offer a unique hands-on 5 + 12 weeks approach.

  1. We call the first 5 weeks the Summer Camp (starts Aug 16th).  The participants work onsite or remote on e-learning MOOCs from DataCamp to demonstrate their ability to code in Python, R, SAS, SQL and to master statistical principles. During this period experts put all their energy into coaching the candidates in keeping up the pace and finishing the exercises. All the activities take place in our training centre located in the European Data Innovation Hub.
    -> If you are a young graduate you can expect to be contacted by tier one companies who will offer you a job or traineeship that will start with the participation to the datascience bootcamp.
  2. The European Data Science Bootcamp starts September 19thDuring a 12 week period – every Monday and Tuesday – participants will work on 15 different business cases presented by business experts from different industries and covering diverse business areas. Each Friday, the future data scientists will gather to work on their own business case, with coaching by our data experts to achieve an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) at the conclusion of the bootcamp.

Delivering strong experienced business data science professionals after an intense semester of hands-on business cases.

Companies are invited to reserve seats for their own existing staff or for the young graduates who have expressed interest in following the bootcamp.

 Please reserve your seat(s) now as, this bootcamp is limited to 15 participants.

Please contact Nele Coghe on or click on di-Academy to learn more information about this first European Data Science Bootcamp.

  • Here  is the powerpoint presentation explaining the Bootcamp.
  • Here is the presentation done by Nele during the Data Innovation Summit.

Hope to see you soon at the Hub,

Philippe Van Impe

Data Science Meetup about the Panama Papers with Mar Cabra


There was a big crowd attending inspiring talk by Mar Cabra from ICIJ last Thursday at the Data Science Meetup at the VUBrussels.

mar cabraMar gave a whole new meaning to Messi data. This data was originally obtained from an anonymous source by reporters at the German newspaper Süeddeustche Zeitung, who asked ICIJ to organize a global reporting collaboration to analyze the files.

More than 370 reporters in nearly 80 countries probed the files for a year. Their investigations uncovered the secret offshore holdings of 12 world leaders, more than 128 other politicians and scores of fraudsters, drug traffickers and other criminals whose companies had been blacklisted in the US and elsewhere.

Here is the link to her presentation.

The data is available and can be downloaded ! users are now able to search through the data and visualize the networks around thousands of offshore entities, including, when available, Mossack Fonseca’s internal records of the company’s true owners. The interactive database  also includes information about more than 100,000 additional companies that were part of the 2013 ICIJ Offshore Leaks investigation.

Try it yourself and download the database:

Some interesting links:

We were very happy that she could come to do this for our community. Although we did not record the presentation, here are two videos for info:

How the ICIJ Used Neo4j to Unravel the Panama Papers – Mar Cabra
(very similar to last night, from GraphConnect Europe in London on 26th April);

The Making of a Scoop – The Panama Papers (W.Krach,
Süddeutsche Zeitung & K.Auletta) | DLDnyc 16




The Panama Papers is a global investigation into the sprawling, secretive industry of offshore that the world’s rich and powerful use to hide assets and skirt rules by setting up front companies in far-flung jurisdictions.
Based on a trove of more than 11 million leaked files, the investigation exposes a cast of characters who use offshore companies to facilitate bribery, arms deals, tax evasion, financial fraud and drug trafficking.
Behind the email chains, invoices and documents that make up the Panama Papers are often unseen victims of wrongdoing enabled by this shadowy industry.

#DIS2016 – Le rendez-vous annuel des acteurs du monde de la Data Science

logo_v5La Transformation Digitale, c’est le thème principal du Data Innovation Summit 2016: l’événement qui réunit l’écosystème belge du domaine du traitement des données.

Rendez-vous le mardi 10 mai 2016 au 25 Boulevard du Souverain – 1170 Watermael Boisfort pour une journée rythmée par plus de 40 présentations d’expertes, 20 stands d’entreprises, et de nombreuses opportunités de networking.

Le rendez-vous annuel des acteurs du monde de la Data Science

Le succès de la première édition du Data Innovation Summit a motivé les organisateurs à pérenniser le Data Innovation Summit.

« L’écosystème de la Data Science belge avait besoin d’un rassemblement qui permette à ses différents membres de se connaître et d’échanger. C’est ainsi qu’est né le Data Innovation Summit » explique Philippe Van Impe – Fondateur du European Data Innovation Hub, qui organise l’événement.

Rassembler, apprendre et s’amuser sont les maîtres mots qui ont réunit l’année dernière, tous les acteurs du monde de la Data Science: Startups et grandes entreprises ainsi qu’universitaires et membres du gouvernement. Cette année encore, ces trois mots attirent et plus de 300 personnes sont attendues au Summit.

Une édition sous le signe de la Transformation Digitale et de l’inspiration au féminin

L’économie d’aujourd’hui évolue très rapidement. L’innovation est un pilier essentiel de ce changement et il est impératif pour les acteurs économiques de ne pas rater le train de la Transformation Digitale en marche. Ce constat s’applique évidemment au domaine du traitement des données.

Défi supplémentaire, cette année, la majorité des experts présentant leurs histoires au Summit seront des expertes. « L’année dernière, sur 68 speakers nous avions 3 femmes. Cette année, nous avons décidé d’inverser la donne pour montrer que les femmes sont aussi impliquées dans ce monde qui parait essentiellement masculin » affirme Philippe Van Impe.

Une programmation riche et inspirante

L’événement est articulé en plusieurs temps forts :

  • Des expertes du Data et de la Transformation digitale viendront parler de leur expérience: découvrez l’histoire de Saskia Van Uffelen – CEO d’Ericsson, d’Ursula Dongmo – ICT women of the year 2016 ou encore d’Annemie Depuydt – CIO de l’université de Louve-la-Neuve.
  • Un hall d’exposition : où vous pourrez discuter avec des entreprises mais aussi tester un casque de réalité virtuelle ou encore découvrir des œuvres d’art connectées.
  • Des networking breaks : grâce à Conversation Starter, une startup Bruxelloise, les visiteurs du #DIS2016 pourront programmer leur venue et organiser des rendez-vous sur la journée.

Programme complet de l’événement :

Contact & organisation

  • Brussels Data Science Community
  • Philippe Van Impe
  • 0477 23 78 42
  • Website :
  • Twitter: @DataEu
  • Facebook group: European Data Innovation Hub

DiS16_Poster_v02 (1) (1)

Seizing Europe’s Data Innovation Opportunity

 center for data innovation

You are invited to


Seizing Europe’s Data Innovation Opportunity

Monday, February 29, 2016 from 14:00 – 18:00 (CET)


International Press Center, Polak Room, Résidence Palace, 155 Rue de la Loi, Blok C 1040 Brussels

The rapidly growing data economy presents an enormous opportunity for Europe to increase productivity and competitiveness. Public sector institutions alone could save more than €100 billion annually from increased use of data. Moreover, data-driven innovation will likely play a key role in addressing a wide array of the most important challenges facing Europe, from supporting an ageing population to improving domestic security to combating human trafficking.

While the data revolution is poised to unlock enormous economic value, create new opportunities for scientific discovery, and improve quality of life for hundreds of millions of Europeans, these advancements will only be possible if Europe embraces policies to support innovation in the data economy. In some areas, such as public commitments to building smart cities and adoption of open data policies, European nations are in the vanguard. However, other areas need more work.

Join the Center for Data Innovation at the inaugural event for its Brussels office where it will host a thoughtful discussion about the future of data policy in Europe, including opportunities to build and expand on successes to increase the use of data throughout the public and private sector. The event will be followed by a reception.


  • Liam Benham, Vice President of Government Affairs, IBM
  • Michał Boni, Member of the European Parliament
  • Beatrice Covassi, Deputy Head for the Data Value Chain Unit, European Commission
  • Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and Minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom, and Postal Services
  • John Higgins, Director General, DIGITALEUROPE
  • Kaja Kallas, Member of the European Parliament
  • Lenard Koschwitz, Director of European Affairs, Allied for Startups
  • Paul MacDonnell, Head of European Policy, Center for Data Innovation
  • Catriona Meehan, Director of EU Policy and Government Relations, Application Developers Alliance
  • Victor Negrescu, Member of the European Parliament
  • Damir Tomicic, Chief Executive Officer, Axinom Group
  • Philippe Van Impe, Founder, European Data Innovation Hub
Résidence Palace International Press Center, Polak Room
155, rue de la Loi – Blok C
1040 Brussels
Attend Event

Join us at our Data Innovation Symmit – #DIS2016 – 

Event – IABE – Big Data – December 3rd


Dear Mr. Van Impe,

On behalf of the IABE (institute of actuaries from Belgium), we are pleased to inform you that an exciting and relevant seminar on “Big Data” is to be held on December 3rd , 2015. Eminent speakers coming from both the academic world and the business side are gathered. The seminar is set to bring insight on Big Data and how it could impact the insurance sector. The seminar will cover theoretical and practical aspects. We are sure it will provide an enriching experience for all our participants.

Would you mind sharing the invitation with whom it would be of interest?

Kind regards,
Yasmine Nouri
(member of IABE and co-organizer of the event),

Here is the agenda:

  • 13h30 : Welcome by Jean-François Hannosset, President of the IA|BE
  • 13h35 : Introduction to Big Data by Mateusz Maj.
  • 14h00 : Data science : “State of the art” Professor dr. Bart Baesens an associate professor at KU Leuven, and a guest lecturer at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom). 
  • 14h40 : Overview of (a) practical application by Jo Coutuer 
  • ——————– 15h20 : Coffee break———–
  • 15h40 : Overview of (a) practical application by Jean-Philippe Schepens  
  • 16h20 : Legal framework around Big Data by Laurens Naudts is a legal researcher at the KU Leuven 
  • 17h00 : Panel discussion : experts insurance companies
    Jean-Claude Debussche –  Pierre Ars –  Dries De Dauw –  Marieke Geeraert – Yasmine Nouri
  • 17h55 : Conclusion
  • ——————– 18h00 : cocktail ————
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