One billion euros for a Wallonia Institute of Technology - Companies

One billion euros for a Wallonia Institute of Technology – Companies

This is one of the ideas envisaged by the Union wallonne des entreprises and its partners within the framework of the Odyssey 2068 prospective reflection. This outlines trajectories and bifurcations leading to an ambitious Wallonia on a horizon of year.

Business leaders of course. But also academics, creators of start-ups, civil servants, heads of associations and even union representatives. In total, more than 800 people took part in the vast reflection project initiated in 2018 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Union wallonne des entreprises. The idea was to plan together for the next fifty years and to clear the most promising paths for Wallonia. “At each election, we release our memorandum with our suggestions for the next five years, explains Olivier De Wasseige, CEO of UWE. ideal trajectories for Wallonia.”

Business leaders of course. But also academics, creators of start-ups, civil servants, heads of associations and even union representatives. In total, more than 800 people took part in the vast reflection project initiated in 2018 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Union wallonne des entreprises. The idea was to plan together for the next fifty years and to clear the most promising paths for Wallonia. “At each election, we release our memorandum with our suggestions for the next five years, explains Olivier De Wasseige, CEO of UWE. ideal trajectories for Wallonia.” From the fifty workshops and the very many hours of meetings emerged four ultimately quite classic strategic axes (employment-training, governance, environment-climate, innovation), twenty impulses to give and seventy actions to undertake. It is among these that we find the idea of ​​setting up a Wallonia Institute of Technology, bringing together universities, colleges, research centers and businesses. The objective is to arrive at “a real pooling of interests, resources and means available to meet the challenges of Wallonia”. This WIT would be endowed with a budget of one billion euros, coming from envelopes for business aid, employment and research. Where Wallonia has often been scattered in a sprinkling of means, we plead here for a geographical regrouping of forces, at least in a territory called Wallonia Innovation Valley (we suggest the Mons-Wavre-Liège triangle). “If a component is missing, an ecosystem does not work, we read in the report. We must geographically group everything that should make it possible to generate innovation: banks, schools, incubators, departments of the SPW Economie and AWEX.”Could Wallonia go beyond its political, denominational or other chapels? This is clearly the bet of this Odyssey 2068, whose protagonists have agreed to aim for the long term and thus allow themselves a more daring dynamic. “That does not mean that everyone approves of everything, specifies Pierre Mottet, president of the UWE. But we thought together and we were able to see that we all wanted a harmonious Wallonia.” “Senior civil servants, heads of environmental organizations and bosses were able to see that they were in agreement at 90% not only on the observation of the problems to come but also on the solutions to be brought to them, explains Samuel Saelens, director of the UWE Skills cluster and one of the linchpins of Odyssey 2068. It’s very encouraging for the future. “Because there will be a sequel. We are only at the very beginning of the process and the clashes will perhaps occur during the implementation of the actions, when one will have to accept this and the other that. “However, we can capitalize on the big progress of these three years of discussion: the decompartmentalization, insists Pascale Van Doren, director of the Jules Destrée Institute, specialist in prospective analysis and guide of this Odyssey 2068. Partnerships would not have probably never been able to express himself so naturally without all this work.” She cites the example of discussions with representatives of the administration around the scope of the civil service and the services that could be outsourced. “Discussions have evolved over three years of odyssey, she continues. People have appropriated a more collaborative process, it’s an achievement that goes beyond the impulses and actions retained. The products of Odyssey will be co -piloted, it will be partnerships.” “We have established bridges, they will be used”, sums up Pierre Mottet. Prospective work includes reflection on a series of events likely to shake up, sometimes very dangerously, regional strategies. In jargon, these are called Wildcards and we cite a Walloon budget crash in 2030 as well as an energy blackout in 2025 or the bankruptcy of the first pillar of pensions in 2035. The effect of these wildcards can be mitigated through intelligent bifurcations, for example in training for emerging professions, CO² capture solutions or, further, in-vitro food. “All this work raises the question of the role that the company can play in the structuring of society, comments Olivier de Wasseige. Our action must not be guided solely by growth or GDP. We must affirm the societal role of company. We are not at all in a logic of confrontation but of co-construction. And we will continue to act in this way.”By placing ourselves in the long term, beyond one or two electoral deadlines , we sometimes manage to observe the themes in a more rational and open way. At the UWE, for example, we are convinced that by placing the limitation of ministerial cabinets to five people in the more general framework of an overhaul of the role of the administration and its interactions with politics and by repeating it in a memorandum in memorandum, the situation will eventually change. “Today, we are told that it is impossible, concedes Samuel Saelens. But we will continue to recall our proposal and its context. I think that having a long-term course makes it possible to overcome the force of inertia, that having a vision to cling to helps get things done. Odyssey 2068 is that.”

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