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The world’s biggest startup festival comes to Belgium with Leuven Slush'D

Leuven Slush'D aims to internationalise the Belgian tech ecosystem. The event will feature 50 startups, 300 entrepreneurs, and 200 national and international investors.
The world’s biggest startup festival comes to Belgium with Leuven Slush'D

In 2023, the Belgian startup ecosystem sees it big. The startup event Slush, the world’s biggest startup festival, is coming to Belgium in the form of Leuven Slush'D. Backed by the Helsinki-based organisation, Leuven Slush'D aims to immediately position itself as the "leading startup event" in Belgium. 

Roald Parmentier

“One of the driving forces behind the Leuven edition of Slush’D is to provide a platform for Belgian tech startups to address markets well beyond our national borders,” explained Leuven Slush’D co-organiser Roald Parmentier. "We still too often build great products and tools for ourselves in our country, while the international potential remains untapped (for too long)." 

As part of the Investments Team at Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley-based VC investor, Parmentier notes, "Our Belgian modesty contrasts sharply with the mature U.S. market. There, you still see stories of students with a great idea immediately knocking on the door of big VCs. Here that only comes up in a "Series A" round. It's mainly the idea of not being afraid to talk to experienced investors and seek feedback and validation that we want to fuel." 

The first edition of Leuven Slush'D, taking place on Oct. 12, has room for 50 startups, 300 entrepreneurs and 200 investors, both national and international.

Recognied as the innovation capital of Europe in 2020 and home to Imec and KU Leuven, the city is ideal for facilitating this gathering of great minds. Thanks to its internationally known brand, the organization found enough support to bring together even the three regional ecosystems - Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.  

Besides establishing links between entrepreneurs and investors through startup booths and pitch sessions, the organizers are also drawing some big brand names to the event such as Antler and Einride.

Einride. For example, Ellen Kugelberg, Chief Product Officer for Einride will give a keynote. Einride is a scaleup focused on developing an autonomous all-electric fleet of trucks. As recently as December 2022, they managed to raise half a billion USD in funding. Earlier, Einride also announced a partnership with Leuven-based beer giant AB InBev. 

Einride vehicles.
Einride vehicles. Photo provided by Einride

Of course, Belgian inspirations will also be present. For example, Jan Hollez, co-founder of Deliverect, a recent Belgian unicorn, will make his wake-up call. And as a tech veteran, Pieterjan Bouten, co-founder of Showpad, will also make his appearance.

It promises to be a busy program with topics such as internationalization, talent recruitment and the hype of the moment: Artificial Intelligence. The organizers are hopeful, "Who knows, maybe we'll bring Sam Altman (CEO OpenAI) to Leuven." 

The format lends itself to introducing our ecosystem and entrepreneurs to foreign investors & startups, thus building a bridge to the European scene. Parmentier elaborates, "During Leuven Slush'D, we offer a unique opportunity for startups to connect with investors. We bring together national and international investors so entrepreneurs can share their vision and receive valuable feedback. It's an opportunity to generate early interest and possibly even secure funding for their innovative ideas."

Lead image: Jussi Hellsten

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