Reshaping the future of entrepreneurship in Belgium

Mon. April 22, 2:00PM

Reshaping the future of entrepreneurship in Belgium

With Alexia Bertrand, Thomas Dermine, Yvan Verougstraete, Barbara Trachte and other leading innovators and experts 

Join us on April 22nd at The Merode for an unprecedented gathering that promises to redefine the landscape of Belgian entrepreneurship.

This pivotal event, organized by the Itinera Institute vzw, Belgium's 40 under 40, and the PULSE Foundation, marks the culmination of a year-long effort to craft a new paradigm for entrepreneurial success across the nation. 

The symposium promises a deep dive into the critical priorities for fostering a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Belgium. From panel discussions with leading practitioners to interactive breakout rooms and debates with decision-makers, the event aims to arm stakeholders with actionable, data-driven solutions to catalyze innovation and change, bridging the divide between the northern and southern regions of Belgium and paving the way for a united entrepreneurial future.  

Don't miss this unparalleled opportunity to be part of the transformative journey towards a more innovative and entrepreneurial Belgium.  


Alexia Bertrand

Born into a renowned entrepreneurial family, Alexia Bertrand has carved a significant path in both the legal and political realms. After obtaining her law degree from the Université catholique de Louvain and a Master’s from Harvard Law School, Alexia worked in international law focusing on corporate matters. Her transition into politics was marked by significant roles such as the Chief of Staff for General Policy under Vice Premier Didier Reynders, advising on critical areas including justice, asylum, and economic affairs. Currently serving as the Staatssecretaris for Budget and Consumer Affairs, her acute insights into fiscal responsibilities and budgetary control are invaluable for understanding the subtleties of public debt management.


Thomas Dermine

Thomas Dermine is the State Secretary for Science Policy, Recovery Program, and Strategic Investments at the Belgian Federal Government. Dermine, an advocate for innovation and scientific research, oversees the country's ambitious recovery plan and strategic investments. His work focuses on leveraging science and technology to drive sustainable economic growth and enhance Belgium's position as a leader in innovation.


Yvan Verougstraete

Yvan Verougstraete is a serial entrepreneur turned lead candidate for Les Engagés (Belgium; EPP) in the upcoming European elections. He won the "Manager of the year" award in 2019 as founder and CEO of Medi-Market, the main chain of retail parapharmacies in Belgium. He also founded several catering companies, was director at Delitraiteur and consultant at McKinsey. Before entering the business world, he served as the youngest Belgian local councillor at the age of 18. He studied law at UCL and earned an MBA from Vlerick.


Barbara Trachte is the Secretary of State for Economic Transition in the Brussels Government and serves as the Minister-President of CoCoF. Trachte's portfolio includes spearheading initiatives that support sustainable development and the economic transition towards greener, more resilient industries. Her leadership is marked by a focus on social entrepreneurship and innovation as drivers of economic change.


Reed Stevens

Professor Reed Stevens, affiliated with Fuse Studio, is a distinguished academic and innovator in the field of educational technology. Stevens' research and development work aim to enhance learning experiences through technology, making education more engaging and accessible. His contributions to the field are marked by a commitment to leveraging technology for educational equity and lifelong learning.


Hans Constandt, a digital health entrepreneur and the founder of the Fakir Foundation, is at the forefront of integrating technology with healthcare to improve patient outcomes. His work in digital health innovations has garnered international recognition, emphasizing the importance of data in transforming healthcare delivery. Constandt's entrepreneurial spirit and his dedication to health technology are pivotal in advancing digital health solutions.


Max Levandowski

Max Levandowski is known for his innovative contributions to the technology sector, particularly in developing cutting-edge solutions for global challenges. As a founder of Ush, Levandowski's expertise lies in harnessing technology to create impact, focusing on sustainability and accessibility. His work exemplifies the potential of technology to drive societal progress and economic development.


Valentina Schippers

Valentina Schippers-Opejko is Coordinator of the Urban Agenda Partnership on Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement, Chair of the Eurocities Working Group on Public Procurement and expert on public procurement. In 2021 she has been Coordinator of the Circular Procurement working group of Metropolis Region of Amsterdam. She has 23 years of experience and still working for a public authority. She is motivated to share her experience and to push forward public procurement as a strategic tool to accelerate innovation, circular economy, sustainability, economic recovery, energy transition and other challenges public authorities are dealing with.


An Schrijvers

An Schrijvers holds a doctorate (PhD) in political science, European politics. After ten years of research/education at Ghent University, she made the switch to Flemish science and innovation policy in 2011, first as a senior policy advisor at the Flemish Council for Science and Innovation (VRWI), then at the Flemish Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VARIO). In September 2017 she joined the Programme for Innovation Procurement (PIO or PIP), one year after the Programme was officially launched. With the Programme, the Government of Flanders has the mission to stimulate all public sector organisations in Flanders to use their substantial purchasing power (> 30 billion a year) strategically as a catalyst for innovation. In 7 years, PIP established a portfolio of more than 100 innovation procurement projects, in various policy fields and sectors.


Vincent Bretschneider



Peter Van Rompuy

Group chairman CD&V Flemish parliament


Matthias Diependaele

Flemish minister of Finance and Budget, Housing and Immovable Heritage


Laurent Coulie

Laurent Coulie is a social entrepreneur dedicated to fostering the growth of societal leaders and amplifying their impact. As the co-founder and CEO of Belgium's 40 under 40, he leads a pioneering platform that identifies, selects, and nurtures outstanding talents with the potential to create positive change in their communities and beyond. Laurent also facilitates curated forums with CEOs and senior leaders, providing a space for reflection and meaningful conversations around purpose and legacy. An engineer by training, Laurent previously worked with a global philanthropic organization, contributing to the development and implementation of innovative models for social and economic development in emerging countries.


Luigi Sementilli

Luigi Sementilli believes in the power of communication to change the world. As an event host, moderator, and public speaking coach he is committed to fostering authentic and inspiring conversations that have impact. He is also a communication and language professor at University College EPHEC, the founder of the French-speaking podcast “Positive Changemakers” and a Belgium’s 40under40 Fellow.


Emmanuelle Ghislain

Emmanuelle Ghislain is a social entrepreneur who has dedicated her career to making a positive impact in the world. She is currently the CEO of Pulse Foundation and a Fellow of Belgium’s 40under40, recognizing her as one of the country’s top young professionals. In addition, Emmanuelle is a board member of several prominent organizations, including Bras dessus Bras dessous and Médecins Sans Frontières. With a background in communication and marketing in social enterprises, including SOS Faim and Duo for a job, Emmanuelle brings a wealth of experience and a passion for social impact to her role as CEO.


Stijn Ronsse

Stijn Ronsse is CEO of CAPTURE, a research organization working on the upscaling of technology for the recovery of CO2, water and plastics. He gained experience in industry, academia and consultancy. With a background in economics (PhD), his main interests are on the intersection of economics, innovation, strategy, sustainability and industrial development. These are also the topics that he focusses on as a visiting fellow at Itinera Institute.
Mon. April 22, 2:00PM
Mon. April 22, 8:00PM
TheMerode Talks
Guest allowed?
Yes, 1 per member


Place Poelaert, 6
1000 Brussels
Parking Poelaert, Place Poelaert 1000 Brussels

Detailed program

Welcome & Introduction
Mon. April 22, 2:00PM
Ecosystem Key Recommendations
Mon. April 22, 2:30PM
Panel Discussion
Mon. April 22, 3:00PM
Break-out Rooms
Mon. April 22, 4:00PM
Debate with decision makers
Mon. April 22, 5:30PM
Mon. April 22, 6:30PM
Mon. April 22, 8:00PM