GENK - At Thor Park in Genk, a unique cross-over takes place between technological research, talent development and industrial activity. The site houses the start-up hub IncubaThor, research institution EnergyVille, training center T2 campus and the renovated main building Thor Central. LRM, Genk and KU Leuven are now adding NV Thor to that list. Joris Merckx, the new general manager of this company, will further develop the campus as a magnet for innovative energy companies with an important focus on the energy and smart manufacturing sector.
The efforts to date have resulted in both the most important Flemish knowledge partners and the most important training partners within technological innovation and industry being already active at Thor Park. There is of course IncubaThor, where young companies that focus on Smart Energy, Innovation and Technology are guided. At the research institute EnergyVille, researchers from KU Leuven, VITO, imec and Uhasselt are joining forces. On T2-Campus, more than 300 engineering and technology courses are offered. Finally, the imposing main building Thor Central has been transformed into a successful business and activity center. Moreover, Thor Park is the very first zone in Flanders with little regulation and thus offers excellent opportunities for companies and researchers.
The announced smart manufacturing building will also be ready by the end of 2022. This project by the city of Genk, LRM, POM-Limburg, KU Leuven, Flanders Make and SIRRIS will, in addition to office and production spaces for manufacturing companies, also offer labs where processes for digitization and robotization are developed and tested.
With the most important foundations and building blocks in place, the project partners LRM, the city of Genk and KU Leuven decided to gear up in the development of Thor Park. The new development company NV Thor is being baptized as an umbrella company for the general development of the site. It will have two subsidiaries: NV IncubaThor and NV Mothor. This structure will work closely with the other projects and companies on the site: SON Energyville, NV T2 Campus and NV Meet (Thor Central).
Tom Vanham, general manager of LRM, will also become chairman of the new NV Thor: “The intention is to bring Genk's Thor Park to the next development stage. This former mining site is already undergoing an impressive transformation thanks to all the partners active on the site. The existing projects on the site were mainly realized by public partners. It has produced a unique mix of knowledge partners, researchers and training partners, which we want to use as leverage to bring more private companies to the site. Especially companies in the manufacturing industry and energy sector will feel at home here. ”
Wim Dries, mayor of the city of Genk: “The Genk city council bought the site of the former Waterschei mine in 2017 from LRM with the clear intention of turning it into a high-quality technology park. We thus laid solid foundations for the further development of a bright future for Thor Park. In the meantime, we gathered the necessary partners to further develop this beautiful site together with us. The time is now ripe to restart the restructuring of the company.
Koen Debackere and Michael De Blauwe, KU Leuven: “KU Leuven has been enthusiastically committed to the development of Thor Park for 15 years, together with the city of Genk, with LRM and with our partners (imec, UHasselt and VITO). With the spearheads of energy (via EnergyVille) and smart manufacturing industry, we are actively developing the Genk Triple Helix in which science, innovation and the economy find each other, strengthen and accelerate. In this way Thor Park will be at the forefront of the great social and economic transitions that we all, not least our companies, are facing. With the appointment of Joris Merckx and his team, we are fully drawing the map of renewal and sustainability of the economic fabric in and around Genk. ”
Joris Merckx, general manager of NV Thor: “I am very pleased to be able and to put my shoulders to the wheel behind a socially very relevant project that looks straight into some of the most challenging issues of the 21st century. The Thor Park has a solid foundation with all the elements for a perfect symbiosis of innovative technology and social transition. It is my ambition, together with the partners and the new team, to put Thor on the map, also beyond the national borders. In doing so, we will continue to focus on the energy transition, but we also want to bring the manufacturing industry back to our country. As a strong brand, Thor will become synonymous with sustainable and innovative economic valorisation. ”
At the outset, Mr. Merckx will work with a management team of three people: Gabrial Buglione (Business Development Manager - NV Mothor), Erwin Junius (Project Manager Industry 4.0 - NV Mothor) and Kathleen Sterckx (Manager NV IncubaThor).