Following the success of the first essenscia Innovation Award, jury chair François Cornelis, former Vice President of the Total Executive Committee, created the Innovation Circle in 2013. This is a permanent organisation offering free assistance and mentoring to startups and SMEs in the sector to help them develop their projects and take them to market.
The Innovation Circle gathers together 13 chemicals sector ex-CEOs and academics. essenscia, Deloitte, KUL and UCL are the main sponsors of this initiative, and its ultimate goal is to create employment and added value in the Belgian chemicals sector.
Project owners seeking support need to demonstrate a clear link with chemistry, life sciences and/or plastics; their projects must be highly innovative; and the academic R&D must be proven and protected. Eligible projects must also be sustainable and offer a clear prospect of added value for Belgium.
Candidates are required to present their project at an Innovation Circle meeting and the Circle then decides if and what type of assistance it will receive. One of the members of the Circle follows the project closely for at least one year.
In a next step, mature projects requiring capital can apply for funding to the Innovation fund.