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Watt Factory: Belgium’s Newest Startup Accelerator

Watt Factory is only four months old, but it’s already making entrepreneurial waves in Ghent, Belgium. Watt Factory’s startup accelerator supports thirteen startups in the European “smart cities” sector who are using sustainable technology to improve urban life in industries like construction, transportation, and education.

A few weeks after Challenge Cup Ghent, we asked Watt Factory’s Managing Director Yonca Braeckman to discuss how the accelerator was born and how it hopes to shape Ghent’s startup ecosystem.

How did your program get started? Tell us your origin story.

Watt Factory is an initiative of five experienced entrepreneurs, motivated by sustainability and innovation. They bought an old textile factory on the edge of the city centre of Ghent and decided to build a smart city hub in the renovated space.

I previously built a program revolving around network activation and mentorship at Startups.be, an organization for Belgian tech entrepreneurs with global ambition, before I came to Watt Factory to work on our startup accelerator.

“The key factor in making this initiative successful is the creation of a smart city ecosystem together with Ghent’s city government, industry, academia, and startups.”

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What has been the biggest challenge about starting or running your startup program, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge is keeping up active engagement by all the involved partners in Ghent’s startup ecosystem. The solution will be working to ensure there are benefits to participating and sharing in this ecosystem for all of them.

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Where does most VC funding come from in your startup ecosystem? What do you think would help local startups gain increased access to capital?

Not all of the startups are looking into VC funding, and we support the idea of getting sales before funding in most cases. But for those who are looking into VC funding, we help them connect and advise them on important know-how in dealing with venture capital.

Watt Factory’s Challenge Cup Ghent took place on September 20. Fluves won the competition and will be representing Ghent on the global stage this November.