Starting point


The Flanders region inhabits 6.6 million people.


The Flemish industry employs 500.000 people – amounting to 50 billion euros added value.


23.000 farms exploit nearly half of the total Flemish ground surface. 

Water ways

1000 kilometers of water ways cover our landscape, of which 650 are installed by man.


We are occupying space at a rate of 6 hectares a day, causing solidification.


1 in 5 employees is active in water intensive industries.

We extract water from soil and water ways. We catch rain water and discharge waste water. There is infrastructure to manage and check those processes (water treatment plants, water pipelines, sewers, channels…)

Some human interferences in the water system have led to many welfare gains. We use lots of ground water in agriculture and the food and beverage industry. In chemistry, refineries and food industry lots of drinking water is used. The shipping industry also has large water needs.

There is tension between the societal needs and the resilience of the water system, which leads to problems (water scarcity, flooding, water quality)

This tension field will continue to expand as a result of forecasted demographic evolutions and their impact on space and natural resources. Other contributing factors are increasing traffic, urbanization and societal tendencies to be more self-reliant.

Solutions however are not clear-cut

  • Should all of us engage in water reuse?
  • Do we need a centralized or decentralized system?
  • Which actors do we need: the current big players, local co-operations or innovative entrepreneurs?


  • What regulation adaptations are needed?
  • How does water scarcity impact the energy, mobility and nutrition transition?
  • Are we still missing actors to shape tomorrow’s value chains?

Vlakwa works action-oriented to battle these challenges

  1. Systemic focus

    Vlakwa works on developing an integrated systemic view on water challenges. We map the complexity of the water system and its interaction with other systems (energy, mobility, nutrition, health…) and explore solutions.

  2. Water innovation focus
    With an intergrated approach in mind Vlakwa looks for funding opportunities for innovating solutions. We facilitate, initiate and participate in innovation projects. We focus our efforts on these domains in the first place:

    Opportunities for water ways, coastal areas and harbours
    Opportunities for smart water (and energy) networks
    Opportunities for agriculture and food
  3. Business focus

    It is also important to scale up valuable innovations and this is where businesses come in. First of all, they need to be aware of the available solutions. That is why Vlakwa commits to widely communicating to the different stakeholders and takes up a pivotal role in internationalizing the Flemish knowhow. Apart from that these valuable innovations also need to hold viable business models and innovative value chains. The insights from the systemic and innovation focus allow us to focus the legal, economic, technical, spatial and social conditions to achieve those outputs. Vlakwa then also supports businesses to implement these water solutions.

Our ambition

Collaborating with industry, research and government to support them in their search for sustainable and innovative water solutions and their implementation

This ambition contributes to realizing a “Robust water system 2050” as included in the Flemish Government’s Vision 2050.

We want to put this ambition into practice by:

  • Keeping the risks and costs for the inhabitants and businesses in check
  • Internationally valorising the accumulated knowledge and expertise


Contact us for more information