Source: Catalisti

As a structural partner of BlueChem, Catalisti aims to bring start-ups into contact with each other, with the government and with large chemical giants intending to create a sustainable chemical sector that can maintain its global position within Flanders. With the Hexagon project, initialised more than ten years ago, Catalisti contributed in building the foundations for the first chemical incubator in Flanders.

Catalisti acts as a spider in the web of companies and governments, collectively innovating with the aim of a sustainable economy and industry, in particular in the chemical sector. The web contains more than 130 companies, large and small, which develop joint projects and -in doing so- can strengthen each other.

The core business of Catalisti is that of chemistry & plastics, a field in which Flanders belongs at the top worldwide. “We need to ensure that we not only maintain that position, but also strengthen it,” Managing Director of Catalisti, Ann Verlinden says. More than ten years ago – then FISCH, now Catalisti – started the thought exercise: how can we anchor chemistry in Flanders in a sustainable way. Needless to say, the challenges to the sector were manifold.


“After years of research, the Hexagon project (inspired by the Flemish SME EcoSynth) emerged. A kind of Technopolis, but for chemistry. But we soon realized that it would not be enough, so we needed to launch a pilot project where startups in the chemical sector that focus on sustainability and circularity could find and strengthen each other. And that is exactly what BlueChem is today”, Ann continues. This makes Catalisti one of the initiators of BlueChem, the first incubator for sustainable chemistry in Flanders.

As a structural partner of BlueChem, Catalisti wants to be a soundboard for the industry and for the startups associated with the incubator to contribute to the further expansion of the BlueChem community. “We are located in BlueChem ourselves and that allows us to be in constant contact with the various companies. We join them up so that an interaction can arise that leads to projects that aim to make the industry more sustainable. We are backed by the government to focus on these projects. But we also familiarize them with the set of supporting instruments VLAIO provides and guide them to the most suitable financing channels.”


This interaction between the incubator, the startups and Catalisti is also the most important added value for Catalisti. “BlueChem wants to bridge the gap between the startups themselves, but also between them and the established players in the sector. This is very interesting for us too, because we have the same target group in mind. From this cross-fertilization between startups, projects emerge which can be very interesting for us. Moreover, if you want to make a speedy evolution towards sustainable chemistry, you need the kind of knowledge that is not available in just one company. Thanks to our network, we can introduce start-ups to established names in the chemical sector. All projects facilitated by Catalisti and submitted for financing by the Flemish government, are analyzed by an international jury and hence receive a quality label. That presents prospects and can open doors,” Ann continues.

Meanwhile, BlueChem’s occupancy rate continues to rise and that gives hope for the future. “BlueChem is just starting up but we can see the project growing slowly but surely. Pioneering work is being done here. Together with BlueChem, Catalisti will continue to facilitate startups, with knowledge, experience and a location that meets all their needs”, Ann concludes.