New milestone for the realization of Science Park Leuven Noord

The city of Leuven, KU Leuven and NMBS are joining forces to realize a sustainable urban science park on the Leuven Noord site, with space for neighborhood facilities and greenery. On Thursday, December 10, the partners baptized the project company that will carry out the entire project. For the realization of the master plan, a selection for a multidisciplinary design team is currently underway.

“It is important that every Leuven resident has the opportunity to find a meaningful job close to home,” says Mayor Mohamed Ridouani. “Leuven is doing well: knowledge institutions, entrepreneurs and companies like to settle in our city. The demand for space for both our knowledge institutions and for research and development continues to grow. By developing Leuven Noord, we can create additional employment for everyone, from top researchers to logistics staff to administrative and technical staff. I am very pleased that we are doing this together with KU Leuven and NMBS. It is by working together that we can innovate and move forward. For this we have also been awarded the European Capital of Innovation. ”

Leuven North – © city of Leuven
A high-performance Leuven economy is important for everyone, to continue to guarantee employment and prosperity and well-being for everyone. Leuven, with institutions such as UZ Leuven, imec, KU Leuven and many startups and companies, is already an internationally leading city for innovation, knowledge development and employment. Since September Leuven can also call itself European Capital of Innovation. This prestigious award from the European Commission rewards the city that best uses innovation to improve the quality of life of its residents. As partners, the City of Leuven, KU Leuven and NMBS want to further strengthen their position and ambitions with the realization of the science park. The proximity to sustainable forms of passenger transport should also promote train use.

“For KU Leuven, for many years the most innovative university in Europe, interaction with the business community is important for the industrial and social valorisation of scientific research. This has now led to 135 spin-offs that employ many thousands of people, ”says Stefaan Saeys, Director of Technical Services at KU Leuven. “The park will provide international research companies and young, promising companies that work closely with KU Leuven and other knowledge institutions in Leuven with the appropriate environment and infrastructure to further develop ideas and research results and convert them into concrete business projects and employment.”

“Over the past 20 years, Leuven has devoted itself fully to the knowledge economy, in which we are a global player,” says alderman of spatial policy Carl Devlies. “In order to permanently anchor the knowledge economy in our city, an active spatial policy is required that also facilitates sustainable mobility. In this way, the railway platform, together with the business sites along the Vaart, will become the northern pillar of our economic and logistics space. ”

“In recent years, Leuven station has grown into one of the largest stations in the country. This popularity is partly due to the attractiveness of Leuven as a scientific and innovative growth area, ”says Sophie Dutordoir, CEO of NMBS:“ NMBS is therefore happy to join an ambitious development partnership that aims to transform an extensive section of railway area – a stone’s throw from the station. in a sustainable science park. The development will stimulate the use of the train and fits perfectly in the strategy of NMBS to embed its stations in the spatial and economic fabric of a city ”.

Collaboration anchored in a project company
A project company has been set up to document the cooperation between the partners. The city of Leuven, KU Leuven and NMBS are shareholders on an equal basis. The six-member board of directors consists of two representatives of the three partners. The company’s deed of incorporation was signed today, December 10. A meeting of the board of directors took place immediately.

Master plan: also space for neighborhood facilities and greenery
The project company is realizing the science park on the basis of a master plan and climate-neutral development strategy. The site is a two kilometer long banana-shaped strip of 22 hectares between the railway line, the Kesseldallaan and the Eenmeilaan. Due to its proximity to bicycle highways, public transport and the E314 motorway, this area is ideally located to realize a sustainable urban and multifunctional science park. In addition to the space for science and business, Leuven Noord also provides space for additional and urban functions, such as neighborhood facilities for Kessel-Lo, logistics activities, green public space and bicycle and pedestrian connections.

A multidisciplinary design team will develop the master plan. The selection of that team was started at the beginning of 2020. Five candidates have currently been selected. The final choice will be made on the basis of the offers submitted at the end of January. Local residents will also be involved in the concrete elaboration of the master plan in the second half of 2021.