Hexagon Shares Proud History with Leuven, the “European Capital of Innovation”

The European Commission awarded the city of Leuven in Belgium with the title of European Capital of Innovation 2020.

A broad range of the European Union’s innovation ecosystem stakeholders come together in Leuven with the purpose of innovating around complex challenges. These range from climate change and the shift to a circular economy to ensuring high-quality education and care.

The ecosystem includes institutions like KU Leuven and imec and numerous spin-offs, start-ups and corporations that attract bright minds from all over the world for research and innovation.

Hexagon’s Geospatial division is part of the ecosystem with its offices in Leuven where all R&D efforts for the Luciad Portfolio are concentrated. Lode Missiaen, who co-founded Luciad (now part of Hexagon) in 1999, explains that the decision to establish the company in Leuven was not a coincidence.

“From the start, we decided to settle close to KU Leuven because we obviously needed good software engineers and advanced technology,” he said. “By 2001, Luciad counted 14 employees, from which nine had graduated from KU Leuven.”

A Continued Connection Between Hexagon and Education

Over the years, the close cooperation with KU Leuven and especially its faculty of engineering has remained. Several so-called ICON projects for interdisciplinary cooperative research were funded by the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) to foster such collaboration between universities and industry. We worked together on topics such as cloud computing, visual analytics, and aspect-oriented programming.

An example of one project that we did in collaboration with the university is analyzing hepatitis C (hcv) migration in space and time with LuciadRIA. We developed a tool for the Department of Microbiology and Immunology to visualize, analyze and filter phylogenetic trees on a geographic map and time filter.

Hexagon’s Geospatial division also has a seat on the advisory board of the Computer Science curriculum at the university, helping to ensure the next generation of graduates have the right skills for innovation.

The connection between the Luciad Portfolio and education extends even further through the Luciad Educational Program. Primarily suited for graduate-level study, the program supports rapid application development in areas such as big data and visualization, visual analytics research, unmanned vehicles and systems, operations research, smart cities research, and smart farming capabilities.

We’re proud to be part of the innovative companies in Leuven and to be surrounded by bright minds that mingle and spark new ideas.