Since begin 2012, we’ve been transferring our life back to Belgium. Over the last 5 years, I’ve been fortunate to live in Amsterdam, Munich, SF and Los Angeles. 4 fascinating and yet completely different cities.
I can say I lost my heart somewhat to LA. Tough city to get in at first, but great to realize your ambitions. When I arrived in LA, ‘something’ was happening, especially in and around the Santa Monica area. I’ve witnessed from nearby the evolution from having some startups, to a movement that wants to become a tech startup hub. LA now wants be a global capital for entertainment, but also for tech, and especially in the intersection of both. Initiatives will continue to grow in the near future, like creating a tech corridor which would create more inflow via universities, more ambitious funding, and hence more ambitious companies.
For some years, I’ve been alternating between LA and Belgium, but that has come to an end. Both on a professional and personal level, it just wasn’t combinable anymore. My little boy will become 5 years old in a couple of weeks, and we wanted 1 school for him. Professionally, most initiatives I’m involved in didn’t generate the traction needed to stay in the US at this moment. We’ve also been testing the waters in Singapore. It looks promising, but all has to be done. I’m a keynote speaker at the global crowdsourcing week in 2013, and this is immediately our target date if we want to achieve and launch something there. More about that later.
So I’m Back in Brussels now. Actually in the very heart of it. It’s a weird place that you sometimes love to hate, but mostly love. Brussels is an intriguing cloud of a city. Brussels center is underestimated as a creative and entrepreneurial center. Mainly because it is unorganized, but that can be arranged. It feels a bit like Santa Monica 5 years back. I don’t know yet if the local government will have the same ambition, so let’s draw a plan and start the talks. Berlin, London, Paris, Barcelona amongst others are all going focussing on talent, ambition and growth, and Brussels could be amongst that list. After all, Brussels is the capital of Europe, and everything is a short flight away.
But I’ll be also spending a lot of time in Limburg. For my foreign friends who are less familiar, Ford is about to close down the factory in this area, where I’m originally born and raised. This means a massive loss of jobs and welfare, so Limburg needs to be re-invented. Every individual has right to a meaningful job, and we need more willpower, work and imagination to create that. There will be initiatives in education, logistics, cleantech, healthcare and probably some other. The goal of the upcoming strategy will probably be double: solve the problems of the closing factory and all impacted people, and create a sustainable socio-economic climate for the future. With some perspective, Limburg is kind of a Silicon Triangle, perfectly placed between the French, German and Dutch speaking community. A mini-Europe as it may. In 2013, I’ll be launching, building and supporting new initiatives over here. Until now it have been mainly week-end work and contributions, but time to step it up. Although it’s not clearly defined yet, this feels like a mission, something that I ‘need to do’.
Besides Brussels and Limburg, fascinating things are happening in Gent and Liège as well. And probably in other centers that I’m just discovering.
Anyway, that’s what it looks like today. It’s a tough climate. It’s a new start. Tomorrow, today is just history. So the future will tell.
But let’s dare to be ambitious. Let’s dare to be proud. Let’s just do it.