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As a leading European research university and co-founder of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), KU Leuven pursues curiosity-driven and strategic frontier research as well as targeted and demand-driven research. With a research budget of over 650 million euro and an academic staff of more than 8000 researchers from 120 countries, KU Leuven strives to build on its strong international reputation for research excellence. The university consistently secures funding from the most select competitive research funds, among them the prestigious ERC Grants awarded by the European Research Council.
Excellence in education is built on and cultivated through excellence in research. KU Leuven offers a comprehensive catalogue of 235 academic degree programmes supported by its research activities, including 75 degree programmes taught in English. The university caters to more than 60,000 students, of which 22% are international students from more than 140 countries. KU Leuven’s three doctoral schools provide internationally oriented PhD tracks for more than 7,000 doctoral students.
KU Leuven Research & Development
KU Leuven Research & Development (LRD) was established in 1972 as one of the first technology transfer offices in Europe. Over the last 40 years, LRD has developed a tradition of collaborating with industry, securing and licensing intellectual property rights, and creating spin-off companies. LRD is dedicated to building bridges between science and industry, and to transferring knowledge and technologies to the marketplace. Key figures for LRD in 2011 are: a total turnover of €164 million; about 1,300 new collaborative research contracts managed; 154 invention disclosures resulting in the filing of 75 new patent families; and an increase of the number of spin-offs to a cumulative total of 98.
LRD’s multidisciplinary team of over 70 experts includes legal counsellors, IPR officers, business development managers and a specialised financial and administrative staff incorporating EU Framework Programme advisors. The team guides both researchers and companies through all aspects of the technology transfer process.
Through the establishment of LRD a unique decision and incentive mechanism has been implemented within the university structure. It enables researchers to manage their technology transfer activities in an autonomous but supported way, and to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in combination with high-level research and education.
The Leuven region has a long tradition of high-tech business development and plays a leading role in the European knowledge economy. It provides the key ingredients for innovation and high-tech entrepreneurship:
The role of the KU Leuven Association, including the Leuven University Hospitals, in the Leuven knowledge economy region is closely linked to the achievements of the nanoelectronics research institute imec. Imec conducts world-leading research on nanoelectronics and has global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Furthermore, many departments of the Flemish Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) are also located in Leuven. The KU Leuven Association, the Leuven-based VIB departments and imec have a combined R&D budget of € 664 million and employ about 20,500 people, 8,000 of whom are researchers.
These knowledge institutes provide a very conducive environment for innovation and high-tech entrepreneurship. They also generate an impressive inflow of state-of-the-art knowledge that brings with it a myriad of innovative ideas for new and existing companies. This makes the Leuven region an attractive location for many high-tech companies.
A large amount of investment capital is available to support and stimulate innovative entrepreneurship, either via venture capital groups or via university funds such as the Gemma Frisius Fund, a seed capital fund established by KU Leuven and two private equity groups, BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity and KBC Private Equity.
Several incubators, science parks and business centres in the Leuven region provide state-of-the-art lab and office space for innovative spin-off companies as well as international research-intensive companies.