VIB is a life sciences research institute in Flanders, Belgium. With more than 1300 scientists from over 60 countries, we perform basic research into the molecular foundations of life.
VIB is an excellence-based entrepreneurial institute that focuses ontranslating basic scientific results into pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial applications.
VIB works in close partnership with four universities − UGent, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp and Vrije Universiteit Brussel and is funded by the Flemish government.
VIB develops and disseminates a wide range of science-based informationabout all aspects of biotechnology.
Mission and objective
Created in Belgium in 1995 at the initiative of the Flemish government, VIB (Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie) is a unique example of a non-profit support structure for a particular scientific domain working towards both excellence in research and transformation of the results of such research into economic growth. Our mission is to conduct frontline biomolecular research in life sciences for the benefit of scientific progress and the benefit of society.
Decentralized center of excellence
VIB is a decentralised institution, uniting the very best researchers in teams and research departments that maintain physical ties with the Flemish universities.
Precise objectives, rigorous evaluation
VIB, which arose out of the government's desire to support the life sciences sector in the Flemish region, receives extensive government funding: yearly 38.1 m euro for the period 2007-2011, marking a 20% increase over the preceding five-year period.
However, this financial support comes with obligations: every five years, the government and the VIB sign a contract concerning precise aims in order to ensure a return on investment for the Flemish authorities.
The evaluation criteria are:
- the number of publications
- income from industrial collaboration
- creation of startups
- authoring of PhD theses
- and capacity to attract industrial and international funding
Investing in technology
Entering into new scientific challenges and aiming for breakthroughs require adapted technologies and a research strategy. VIB therefore pays extra attention to developing and attracting advanced technologies. Their adoption must not only be integrated in VIB’s research laboratories, they must also be advantageous to the whole of Flanders. This is why VIB concentrates on diffusing the institutional knowledge and advance technology in the entire Flemish academic and industrial community.
Attracting young, high potential scientists
VIB increasingly puts efforts into attracting the world's leading scientists. Calls for international projects are made among young scientists seeking to create independent research groups within VIB. In 2008, the institute received 77 projects from researchers in 21 countries.
The international nature of research teams is one of the major characteristics of the research institute: at the end of 2009 45% of post-doctoral students and 42% of doctoral students hailed from a total of 56 different countries.
Commercial exploitation of scientific results
In direct relation with our research, VIB's other major area of activity is commercial exploitation of the results of this research through submission of patents, collaboration with industry and the creation of innovative companies. A dedicated team is concerned exclusively with technology transfer. Income from these activities exceeds 10% of the VIB budget and all profits are immediately ploughed back into research.
In 2008, for every euro invested by the Flemish government in the VIB, one euro was invested by private financiers in startups emanating from the Institute.
The five-year contract signed with the government includes the creation of at least one startup each year. Since 1996, 11 companies or organisations have been founded or cofounded by VIB, including four companies specialising in healthcare biotechnologies.
Research facilities for industry
Apart from starting up new companies, VIB offers fully licensed laboratory and office facilities for life sciences companies in its bio-incubators in Leuven and Ghent. However, these incubators are not designed exclusively for use by companies emanating from the VIB but are in fact open to all young companies active in biotech R&D, including foreign companies.
Informing the public at large about life sciences is VIB’s third objective. Even though biotechnology is a main driver of scientific and economic progress in Flanders, the public debate about its application is not yet resolved. Since the information available to the public sometimes is of dubious quality and origin, disseminating science-based educational material about biotechnology is one of the major focuses of VIB’s communications team. We feel it is our social responsibility to provide the public with up to date information about biotech basics, its applications and its economical importance.
Being a non-profit academic research institute working at the frontiers of science, VIB is exceptionally well positioned to provide unbiased information to different target groups – politicians, journalists, teachers, young people and the interested citizens.
Alongside the dissemination of educational material, VIB’s communication team focuses on exhibiting the dynamic drive of biotech researchers and entrepreneurs.
Through media campaigns, books, brochures, school projects, class materials, lectures and exhibitions, VIB keeps the Flemish population updated on the advances and the importance of biotechnological research.
A third focus is to convince young people to take up a career in science and biotechnology. VIB has a dedicated communication team that works in close contact with VIB’s scientists.