Media clusters have one characteristic: they are supposed to bring companies closer to each other, not only on a geographical scale but also in their business practices leading to a flourishing environment for companies to grow in. This describes one of the success factors identified within the MCB project, the communities of practice. Communities of practice are the phenomenon of people exchanging their knowledge through interaction. Initiatives like incubators and co-working spaces are presenting examples of typical environments where communities of practice can emerge and grow in and represent ICT cluster.
ICAB, an incubator in Brussels, has celebrated its fifth birthday in mid of May. The Flemish university Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB) with the Regional Development Agency for the Brussels Capital Region (citydev.brussels) and the Brussels-Capital Region in collaboration founded ICAB, a business and technology incubator, in 2010. Today, ICAB offers office space to companies and can hold more than 200 employees located just a stone-throw away from the VUB campus in Etterbeek in Brussels.
At the celebration of its fifth birthday, Julien Meganck, President of ICAB, highlighted the impressive results the incubator has achieved in its five years of existence. Hundreds of companies have been launched under the umbrella of ICAB (like WooRank, Soft Kinetic, TagTagCity and Edebex), five hundred jobs have been created and retrieved investments worth a total of thirteen million. Currently ICAB houses 44 companies. ICAB established strong ties to the industry locally and internationally. ICAB also houses the initiative BetaCowork, a shared workspace and community, which has as many as 180 members today. This makes BetaCowork a pioneer and still by far the most successful co-working initiative in Belgium.
The incubator facilitates success of the integrated young ICT companies by offering three essential services: a fully equipped work environment, networking opportunities and personal advice. ICAB highlights the benefits coming from the links they can offer to the university and professionals. Founded by the VUB, ICAB links to the university especially through the close proximity to the campus in Etterbeek but also through hosting especially VUB spin-offs. Also, the “thriving environment” of an entrepreneurial community including start-ups, future partners, opinion makers and financiers has been highlighted.
The ICAB incubator can be seen as a new media cluster within Brussels itself. The area of Arsenal within Brussels has been completely renewed and hosts today many companies including the incubator ICAB. With 40 companies of one sector (ICT) within even one building, which shows their geographical proximity, ICAB tried during the last five years to facilitate this proximity and managed the knowledge spill-overs between the companies. This is a very interesting case for Brussels’ media clusters and worth taking their experience to learn from to create the future media clusters of Brussels, like the planned Media Park at Reyers.
For more information on the incubator, you can go to the website of ICAB.