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Bike Valley receives 500.000 euro as ‘Factory of the Future’

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Today the Flanders regional government set aside 500,000 Euros to help fund the Bike Valley initiative founded by 5 of Belgium’s most forward thinking corporations; Ridley Bikes, Lazer (helmets), BioRacer (clothing), EnergyLab (athletic performance center) and Flanders Drive (mobility knowledge center). As part of the “Flanders in Action” program, created to establish factories of the future in the region, the funding will be used to establish the most advanced R&D facility focused on the aerodynamics and technologies of human power. It will mainly be used for the construction of a bicycle-specific wind tunnel”, says Marc Hufkens of Bike Valley. “Such a wind tunnel, which doesn’t exist in Europe, clearly indicates our ambition of making Bike Valley the first worldwide, cross border, open innovation competence hub of everything related to bicycles.”

The idea of a bicycle-specific wind tunnel was conceived a number of years ago by Ridley. “Because Ridley and the other Bike Valley partners are Small and Medium Enterprises (with no more than 100 employees) we can only realize such an ambitious project if we can count on the support of the different governments in Belgium and by working together”, says Marc Hufkens. “It is the only way we can compete on an investment level with the large global multinationals in the bicycling industry.”

Hufkens: “On an individual basis these SME’s have already shown their ability to compete on the technological level with comparatively little resources. The Noah FAST of Ridley, the speedwear of BioRacer, and the Helium Fast of Lazer are widely recognized as the current pinnacle of technology. By combining forces in a concept of community formation and open innovation, and by teaming up with other partners within Bike Valley, it is their goal to set industrial standards by continuous innovation.”

Reinforcing the heartland of cycling

Ridley Bikes, Lazer, BioRacer, Energylab and Flanders’ Drive are all based in the Flanders region of Belgium. “This region has always been the heartland of cycling. Bike Valley is a way of reinforcing this status and aims at stimulating start-ups, and at attracting organizations and companies from over the world. Bike Valley will function as a center of incubation and as an ecosystem for all things related to the cycling industry.”

Marc Hufkens: “In realizing this ambition, the funding of 500.000 euro is a milestone not to be underestimated. One can say this is the actual ‘go’ in establishing Flanders as a worldwide knowledge hub when it comes to cycling in six different domains: sports, industrial activities, tourism and recreation, health, science and technology, mobility.”

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