Six Flemish companies vie for Export Lion awards


Six diverse companies have been nominated for the Export Lion, which rewards companies based in Flanders for outstanding achievements in export growth

Hear me roar

Flanders Investment & Trade (Fit) has announced the shortlist for its annual Export Lion awards. They include tech pioneers, a food processing specialist and a producer of organic fertiliser.

Fit awards the Export Lion to Flemish companies making waves overseas. The 19th edition of its ceremony will be held in Ghent in September, with a jury crowning winners in two categories.

The first is for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. They include Basalte, from Merelbeke, just outside of Ghent. Basalte works with architects and interior designers to make stylish home technology such as switches and controls (pictured above). It was previously nominated for an Export Lion in 2015.

‘Wonderful appreciation’

“This nomination is a wonderful appreciation for the hard work of the entire Basalte team and for Basaltians all over the world,” a spokesperson said. “We are more motivated than ever to grow further and to see our design products for the intelligent home being used all over the world.”

Mechelen-based Caeleste, meanwhile, designs specialist image sensors for use in the medical sector, aerospace and industrial processes. Founded in 2006, 97% of the company’s €6.3 million turnover now comes from exports.

The final contender is Fertikal, a port-based company on the left bank of the Scheldt, which sells organic fertilisers to 55 countries. Every year it recycles 300,000 tons of waste material from intensive farming. With just six employees, it has recently scaled up its capacity and invested in extensive automation.

Brent Bucks, R&D Director for industrial cutting machines producer FAM

The category for businesses with 50 or more employees includes FAM, based in Kontich, Antwerp province, which has more than 60 years of experience producing industrial food slicing technology.

Lansweeper, from Dendermonde in East Flanders, has developed a platform that scans all software, devices and users within an IT network. It collects detailed information for its clients, which include Formula 1 teams, football clubs, financial institutions and governments.

Finally, Sports and Leisure Group from Sint-Niklaas creates artificial surfaces for sports pitches and employs 120 people.

Because of the coronavirus, Flemish exports fell by 7.5% in March compared with the same period in 2019. This was similar to falls in the Netherlands (-5%) and Germany (-8%) but much less than those seen in Italy (-13.5%) and France (-19%).

In response, the government of Flanders approved Fit’s Corona Exit plan this month and gave the green light for extra support measures for exporters. “The message is clear,” said Fit CEO Claire Tillekaerts. “Flanders is also accelerating in times of corona, and Fit and our partner are ready to offer tailor-made support.”