Merger between Flemish research centers imec and iMinds creates high-tech research institute driving the digital economy

World-leading research center with maximum regional impact

The nanoelectronics research center, imec, and digital research and incubation center, iMinds, today announced that its respective board of directors have approved the intention to merge the research centers. As they join forces, a world-class, high-tech research center for the digital economy will be created. As a result, the new research center will fuse the technology and systems expertise of more than 2,500 imec researchers worldwide with the sophisticated digital competencies of some 1,000 iMinds researchers from over 50 nationalities. This high-tech research center will further strengthen Flanders’ authority as technology epicenter and region focused on creating a sustainable digital future, whilst targeting maximum regional impact.

Imec has been a global leader in the domain of nanoelectronics for more than 30 years, and has innovated applications in smart systems for the Internet of Things, Internet of Health, and Internet of Power. It has built an extensive and worldwide partner network, as well as in Flanders, and has generated successful spin-offs.

iMinds’ activities span research domains such as the Internet of Things, digital privacy and security, and the conversion of raw data into knowledge. Its software expertise is widely renowned and its entrepreneurship activities in Flanders are first-rate.

“The proliferation of the Internet Everything has created a need for solutions that integrate both hardware and software. Such innovative products that optimally serve tomorrow’s digital economy can only be developed through intense interaction between both worlds. There are infinite opportunities in domains such as sustainable healthcare, smart cities, smart manufacturing, smart finances, smart mobility, smart grids, or in short: smart everything. Research centers such as imec –with its widely acclaimed hardware expertise– and iMinds –an expert in software and ICT applications– are uniquely positioned to bring these concepts to life,” stated Luc Van den hove, President and CEO of imec. “Furthermore, iMinds is widely recognized for its business incubation programs as well as for making its expertise easily accessible. As such, this merger provides us with a unique opportunity to jointly reach out to the Flemish industry and to further elevate Smart Flanders on the global map.”

“Flanders faces the enormous challenge of realizing a successful transition towards tomorrow’s digital society; a transition that must happen quickly, considering the urgency to reinforce Flanders’ industrial position,” commented Danny Goderis, CEO of iMinds. “The merger between imec and iMinds is Flanders’ answer to this rapidly accelerating digitization trend. We have a clear ambition to pair more than 3,500 top researchers across 70 countries with an ecosystem of Flemish companies and start-ups, thereby significantly increasing our economic and societal impact. Together, we can help Flanders boost its competitiveness and claim a strong international position.”

The boards of directors of both organizations have approved the intention to merge. As a next step, this intention needs to be translated into a merger protocol.

The merger will safeguard the unique strengths and assets of the two research centers. iMinds flagships such as the ICON research model (in which academic researchers and industry partners jointly develop solutions for specific market needs), the iStart entrepreneurship program (supporting start-up businesses) and iMinds’ user research (Living Labs) will be reinforced. Imec’s authority as a global player in high-tech research will further strengthen both Flanders and the international industry.

The ambition is to operate as one organization by the end of 2016.

Flemish Minister of Innovation Philippe Muyters welcomes the fact that iMinds and imec join forces: "Thanks to their pioneering work in their respective fields, they have put themselves on the world map. When they were founded, the line between hardware and software was still very clear. Today, and especially in the future, this line is increasingly blurring – with technology, systems and applications being developed in close conjunction. The merger anticipates this trend and creates a high-tech research center for the digital economy that keeps Flanders on the world map. The gradual integration of both research centers, and the agreement to preserve their respective strengths and uniqueness, will make for a bright future."