‘I would have never made it on my own’

October 22nd 2018

After 18 years at the Biopark, including 8 years as director, Dominique Demonté is seeking new professional opportunities. This is the perfect time to take a look at the past, and, more importantly, the future!

Can you tell us about when you first came to the Biopark in 2000?
Dominique Demonté: ‘After completing my PhD thesis, I started a postdoctoral programme at the Institute for Molecular Biology and Medicine. At the time, what would eventually become the Biopark was nothing more than this large research centre in the middle of nowhere! From 2006 to 2008, I then worked at ULB's Knowledge Transfer Office (ULB-TTO), where I created a unit dedicated to life sciences. I loved working on patents and acting as an intermediary between researchers and industrial developers, and this prepared me for what I did next.

What was your role as director of the Biopark?
In 2010, the incubator had just been reactivated, we had the funds necessary to open a new training centre, R&D projects were starting left and right… Someone was needed to coordinate all this activity and integrate it into an ecosystemic approach, i.e. ensure the development of both research and companies by leveraging training and business incubation. I did my best to help energies converge and build the Biopark into what it has become today. This would not have been possible without a strong commitment from ULB, our partners (IGRETEC, SAMBRINVEST and THEODORUS), and our teams (incubator, training centre, TTO, etc.). I would have never made it without their support!’

What are your proudest achievements?
The Biopark project itself! In just ten years, we have managed to put Gosselies on the regional, national, and international maps, and we are now able to attract talents as well as projects, as evidenced by a doubling of the number of people working at the Biopark from 2010 to 2018. As a native of the Charleroi region, I am very proud to have contributed to creating qualified jobs in the area.’

How do you envision the future of the Biopark?
I am very optimistic! The Biopark is developing faster than expected: more and more companies and organisations wish to join, and hiring is at an all-time high. Meeting this demand will be challenging, especially in terms of infrastructure and training capacity. Still, my move to Agoria(1) must not be a cause for concern, quite the opposite: it will provide a fantastic opportunity to define new strategies and make the Biopark even more effective!'

(1) Agoria is Belgium's federation of tech companies.