Sirris carried a study out about the key figures in the Belgian ecosystem of startups. Our country has also a thriving start-up scene and a diverse landscape of incubators and accelerators.

To expose that ecosystem, they made connections between people (blue), institutes (green), funds (red) and business (yellow). The larger the sphere, the more connections, the person or organization has within the network.

The result is surprising: even the Belgian start-up network appears concentrated around some strong figures.


The best connected persons in the startup ecosystem are:

  1. Michel Akkermans (investeringsbedrijf Pamida, ex-topman van Clear2Pay)
  2. Luc De Vos (Finactum, Oxynade, CarsOnTheWeb …)
  3. Jurgen Ingels (SmartFin Capital, The Glue, ex-Clear2Pay …)
  4. Jan Vorstermans (Qunova, ex-COO van Telenet)
  5. Bart Becks (

In the vast majority of cases, the type of connection is a seat on the board, followed by investments. Remarkably also newcomer Marc Coucke settles immediately in the heart of the network.

Separate ecosystems

The most connected institute is iMinds. After Volta, Hummingbird Ventures is the most connected investment fund, even though Duval Union has had a spectacular rise the last two years.

Also notable: the networks of imec and iMinds show little overlap, although these two Belgian technological research institutions are the best par excellence. Imec does have a trump card: with Michel Akkermans they have the best connected person of the entire ecosystem in its board of directors.

The breeding ponds

Telecom companies like Telenet and the former Skynet appear to form a fine layer of humus for technology entrepreneurs. But the biggest hotbeds for entrepreneurial talent turns out to be old social network Netlog and IT player Porthus.
Start-ups Spark Central and Scanadu succeed again to mobilize Belgian capital toward Silicon Valley, not coincidentally overlapped with a strong network.

Separation Flanders-Wallonia

Brussels and Flanders are mainly connected through entrepreneurs Jean and José Zurstrassen. Although the brothers also have connections with the Walloon start upscene such as the Liege incubator Lean Square, are there fewer connections between the Flemish and Walloon ecosystem than the Belgians in Silicon Valley.


Although our Belgian ecosystem (provisional) represents little in comparison to the US, there are striking similarities. The connections between entrepreneurs, investors and researchers, a typical Slilicon Valley phenomenon, are also with us.

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By Mike Michaux