Safety products and bio-crop protection win Export Lion awards


Flanders’ awards to the most impressive exporters in the region when to safety barrier manufacturer BoPlan and to Biobest, which sells predatory bugs to fight crop infestations

Pioneers in their fields

Export is crucial to many Flemish industries, but the path from start-up to international exporter is strewn with barriers and doubts. Flanders Investment & Trade has programmes to help entrepreneurs and established companies to make the leap into export, and it rewards the most successful at the annual Leeuw van de Export (Export Lion) award ceremony.

Only two businesses win every year – one with more than 50 employees and one with fewer. Consideration is given to how much the company has grown in export over the years.

Yesterday evening at the Kinepolis Event Centre in Antwerp security systems manufacturer BoPlan and crop management firm Biobest Group won the prestigious awards.

BoPlan, with fewer than 50 employees, designs and manufactures all manner of safety products such as impact-resistant safety barriers and gates, guardrails and handrails. Their products can be found in warehouses, airports, factories and other spaces in nearly 60 countries worldwide.

Unique material

While most producers of such equipment use steel, BoPlan, based in Wevelgem, West Flanders, has developed its own plastic-based material for its products (pictured above). This makes them less vulnerable to damage should an impact occur as well as extremely chemical-resistant. The products, always in a distinctive bright yellow, have a long life and are 100% recyclable.

BoPlan has 33 full-time employees in Flanders and an annual turnover of €14.2 million, 85% from exports. It has representatives in six European countries and in the US.

For a company with more than 50 employees, the Leeuw van de Export went to Biobest, which develops biological pesticides for crops. The company started in 1987 when Roland De Jonghe, a veterinarian from Westerlo, Antwerp province, began using bumblebees to pollinate the tomatoes in his greenhouse.

I hope that these awards inspire other entrepreneurs to spread their wings internationally

- Geert Bourgeois

Now with more than 1,000 employees on five continents, the company raises and sells some 30 different kinds of predatory insects to control pests on crops around the world. It also develops biological fungicides, pesticides and vaccines that contain no dangerous toxins.

Biobest is active in 65 markets with an annual turnover of €77.2 million. Some 97% of it comes from export operations, with more than half of that outside the EU.

“BoPlan pushes the boundaries in the highly specialised field of industrial protection,” said Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois, awarding the Leeuw van de Export, “while Biobest Group is a true pioneer in the area of sustainable and biological control and pollination. I hope that these awards inspire other entrepreneurs to spread their wings internationally.”