The scattered Belgian presence at international fairs raises questions.
Finding a stand stamped “Belgium” or any other acronym of national representation at an international technology fair is impossible. However, this time, we believed it. After searching for a few minutes, what was our surprise when we discovered at the European VivaTech meeting a stand displaying a thunderous “Belgium” accompanied by the three national colors. Would the turf and community wars have ended? Have the different regional digital and foreign trade strategies finally aligned? Nay.
The “Belgium” stand is in reality an illusion, a trompe-l’oeil, certainly clever, of the Walloon delegation which ignored geographical and linguistic borders, the time of an event. A few meters further, between the Luxembourg and Dutch stands, hidden behind a conference room, the hub.brussels stand presents its own delegation of start-ups.
It seems futile, but in a show where there are more than 100,000 visitors and 2,000 exhibitors, location and visibility play a big role.
Belgium is therefore doing as well as usual, that is to say as if it did not exist. As if she were onlya collection of territories unable to fit together to be at least one next to the other, just to give a unity of facade. Since the dimensions of the Brussels stand were not compatible with those of the Walloon stand, they could not be placed side by side. It seems futile, but in a show where there are more than 100,000 visitors and 2,000 exhibitors, location and visibility play a major role in the success of a participation that costs several tens of thousands of euros to each Region. To top it off, Flanders decided not to come to the show.
Companies, they are far from community controversies. They are there to do business. even if some Belgian entrepreneurs deplore behind the scenes the repeated hiccups that tarnish the Belgian image abroad. It is sometimes the reign of resourcefulness, but the young and less young French-speaking shoots present on the spot are doing quite well. The example of Naki is there to prove it.
Having a Belgian brand like the “French Tech” for our country seems to have become illusory. As the competence for foreign trade is regionalised, Flanders will never accept a common banner which uses a designation such as “Belgium” or “Be”. Luckily, this doesn’t seem to be holding back the ambitions of our start-ups, but one can’t help but wonder what results they could achieve if they were supported by a strong national delegation and representation when they have to convince beyond their bases.