This is an important step in the progress of the project, which aims to get young people interested in science and technology, to make the "scientific method" better known to citizens and to lower the threshold between societal challenges and innovative solutions.
At the proposal of Barbara Trachte, Secretary of State for Scientific Research, and following a comparative analysis of several possible sites, the Brussels Government has chosen the West Station site for the location of a future Science and Innovation Village in the Brussels-Capital Region.
What are the objectives ?
The Science Village aims to allow visitors to better understand, through scientific reasoning, the major societal challenges facing the Brussels Region and the world, such as climate change, epidemics or the emergence of inequalities. This specific orientation will help to firmly anchor the Science and Innovation Village in the reality of the Brussels territory and will make the project stand out de facto from other Belgian initiatives, such as Sparkoh in Frameries or Technopolis in Mechelen. Moreover, the project aims to attract more young people to scientific and technological studies and professions, and particular attention will be paid to the under-representation of girls and women in these fields.
Following an initial feasibility study carried out by the Explore consortium in 2018 and an updated analysis by citydev.brussels, the Brussels Government has therefore considered the West Station site to be the most suitable for the Science and Innovation Village project. This area is easily accessible by public transport, is close to several schools, has a low average age and is in need of public investment to restructure the neighbourhood. Moreover, it perfectly matches the objectives set for the 'West Station' master plan.
The site is owned by the Regional Land Agency and is currently being used temporarily for the MolenWest project. This project already involves various association actors from the neighbourhood.
Innoviris will be the contractor for the project, while citydev.brussels will be the construction manager. The start of the works is scheduled to begin in 2026 and be completed by 2029. It involves a space of about 5000 m2. The construction cost of the building is estimated at €25 million and will be the subject of an application for ERDF co-financing.
Project call presenting Science Roadshow 2023
Between now and the inauguration of the future Science Village, Innoviris is also launching a call for projects for a roving Science Village, the "Science Roadshow". All Brussels actors active in the field of science awareness and promotion are invited to join forces and submit proposals for the organisation of a free itinerant awareness event bringing science and technology closer to the Brussels public.
The "Science Roadshow" will offer a series of awareness-raising activities in at least five Brussels neighbourhoods to meet the inhabitants in their own area and to get them interested in science, with a special focus on groups that are traditionally hard to reach. The total budget for the project is €800,000 and it will run for a total of 20 months, from March 2023 to the end of October 2024.
Barbara Trachte, State Secretary for Scientific Research:
By choosing the location for this future Science Village, namely West Station, a first important step has been taken within this project. It is a dynamic, young district that is easily accessible by public transport and in need of public investment. The promotion of science, especially to the target groups furthest away from it, is essential to arouse the interest of young people, especially young girls. I am also pleased that this future Science Village will have its own identity and will be well anchored in the Region and in our times by choosing the major climate and social challenges as its specific feature.
Suzana Koelet, Science Promotion Advisor Innoviris
Young people have grown up with innovation and can hardly imagine their lives without GSM or WIFI. Yet comparatively few 'digital natives' opt for a scientific or technological education or job. With the Science Roadshow, we want young people in Brussels and their entourage to discover what science and technology have in store for them and how they themselves can help shape solutions for the future.
Cabinet: Nicolas Roelens 0485/89.83.95
Innoviris: Sophie Messens