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How cities cooperate

21 April 2016

How cities cooperate

Will smart Indian cities turn to Belgium’s finest technology?

Ever heard of motion sensors detecting dangerous situations like robberies, or dynamic traffic management based on sound sensors? What about windows functioning as solar panels or smart T-shirts monitoring your heart rate and blood pressure?  Leuven, a vibrant university city near Belgium’s capital Brussels, has a cluster of  high-tech companies and research institutes that are turning these ideas into reality. “Our knowledge can contribute to India’s healthcare and help the Indian cities develop into the smart cities they want to be”, says Deputy Mayor Mohamed Ridouani.

Connection Leuven - India

Leuven and India are no strangers to each other. “We are the home to the second biggest population of Indians living in Belgium”, says Ridouani. “A lot of Indian youngsters study at the KU Leuven, our city’s much renowned university, and a lot of bright Indians work for companies like imec, the world-leading research center in nano-electronics.”

To cultivate the bound between India and Leuven, Ridouani launched India House Leuven. “It’s a centre for cultural, economic and academic exchanges. We organize color festivals, exhibitions, or instigated the Indian Council for Cultural Relations Chair at KU Leuven which facilitates the visiting Indian Scholars in Leuven.”

Enhancement of ties

This week, a delegation of Leuven Mindgate, an integrated cluster of knowledge institutes, health centers and high tech companies from Leuven, hits the ground to visit India on an economic visit. “Leuven is home to imec,  the most advanced independent nanoelectronics R&D Center in the world, next to some 300 other high tech companies”, explains Peter Van Biesbroeck, Director of the regional Chamber of Commerce. “Those companies have developed very advanced technology for smart cities like the water- and waste treatment solutions from Waterleau or Materialise’s titanium or plastic 3D –printed skulls and bones. The proximity of UZ Leuven, the second biggest university hospital campus in Europe, makes that we flourish on e-health applications and medical technology.”

Smart cities mission

Such technologies are becoming increasingly important, as Prime Minister Modi’s Smart Cities Mission (SCM) is gaining momentum. “An ideal time to introduce the Leuven high-tech and health cluster, to establish useful contacts and tell the beautiful story of Leuven”, says Ridouani. “Our companies and organizations can make a significant contribution to e-health care in India, as Leuven profiles as an innovative health metropolis.”

Next to seminars on the Smart Cities project, lots of time and visits are planned for e-health. Hence, visits to the highly regarded All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences and the renowned Apollo Hospitals are scheduled.

Much local interest is also expected for imec, the nanoelectronics R&D center that integrates solar panels into building materials like windows. This research institute with its new 1 billion euro cleanroom facility is working on the development of smart watches and smart sensor clothing. As Indian cities look to leapfrog into the digital age they will pay a close look to the recent implementation of a LORA (LongRange)-network for sensors, enabling an internet of things (IoT)  in the city of Leuven.

While some of Leuven Mindgate technologies seem distant, they are closer to reality than expected, and both Leuven and Indian cities are expected to gain through these encounters.

More info: Geert Robberechts –Coordinator India House Leuven – mobile (India) : 9910-756.733  (until 23rd of April)