In Belgium, 14 promising, innovative export ideas from Flemish agrifood companies have received financial backing. That's via the Flemish Center for Agro- and Fisheries Marketing's (VLAM) 'incubator'.
They'll grant a total of €300,000. These are funds that VLAM got from Hilde Crevits. Crevits is the Flemish Minister of Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy, and Agriculture. It's part of an attempt to revive exports during and after the corona crisis.
COVID-19 is pummelling the Flemish export sector. The various agricultural sectors aren't escaping punishment either. VLAM wants to help Flemish companies recover quickly.
The VLAM incubator was created thanks to the Minister's financial support. This initiative supports Flemish agrifood export companies' creative plans. Interested parties could submit proposals between 15 August and 15 September.
Filip Fontaine, VLAM's managing director, is delighted with the companies' enthusiasm. "The VLAM-incubator is an enormous success. We got no fewer than 46 proposals. That was all sectors of agriculture."
A jury reviewed all the proposals and decided to support 14 of the highest-scoring projects financially. "The heavily affected floriculture sector is remarkably strongly represented in the approved proposals. The various sectors are, however, all represented in the approved projects. There were also many proposals with a strong digital bias," says Fontaine.
Many of the approved plans focus on tapping into markets that are new to the companies in question. These are both closer to home in, for example, Western Europe. But, they're in other parts of the world too. The companies can carry out their approved projects immediately.
The VLAM incubator seems to be a successful way to support businesses' export policies. "It's nice to see that both the government and companies trust VLAM. That's for export support in this difficult period. I hope this is the beginning of a process. We must continue to help build our export position in the coming years. We can do so with this or a similar formula," Filip says.
In a nutshell
Forty-six projects were submitted. Fourteen got financial backing from a €300,000 total subsidy:
- Fruit and vegetables: three proposals
- Flowers: five proposals
- Diary: two proposals
- Meat: two proposals
- Meat products: one proposal
- Poultry: one proposal