Logistics in Wallonia (LIW) has been created in the course of 2004 as a simple cluster. The Walloon region implemented in that period a cluster policy providing financial means to network organisation. The Walloon Cluster for Transport and Logistics (previous name of LIW) was created on that occasion and initiated activities to foster networks in the Walloon logistic sector. In 2006, the Walloon authorities designed an ambitious plan (the Marshall Plan) to revamp the Walloon economy. The main measure in this plan was the creation of 5 competitiveness clusters in sectors where Wallonia has a strong potential. Transport and logistics was selected, the Walloon cluster got an official recognition and was transformed into Logistics in Wallonia as it is now.
- clustering the transport and logistic sector for the Walloon region of Belgium.
- promoting innovation in transport and logistic through subsidiation programmes of the Walloon authority by implementation of the Wallon Marshall Plan.
- fostering collaborations between RTD and business partners through funding the development of a collaborative project (with a minimum of 2 companies and 2 RTD partners).
LIW relies on contacts and relations with three groups of members:
- Regional authorities: representatives of the public authorities are board members of the cluster ensuring an optimal relation between our action and the policy of the region. Moreover, different public organisations (infrastructure managers) are amongst the members.
- RTD partners: in the framework of our Marshall plan, the three Walloon university academies have strongly committed to the Competitiveness Clusters policy. The three academies and their R&D departments are members of the cluster.
- Companies: 213 companies are members of the cluster – 178 of them are SME’s. Private companies are strongly involved in the development of the cluster activities and in the development of projects led by the cluster. It’s why the President of the cluster must belong to a company (the current President, Jean-Marc Nizet comes from the transport infrastructure industry, Alstom).
The challenges led by LIW are deeply linked with the challenges of its members:
- Definition of Logistics and of its role in the economy and in the firms.
- Field overview and development considering the historical regional reality.
- Supply chain management, integrated logistics' cost and management concepts, global logistics.
- Decision aid and risk management.
- Innovation in the T&L field, including data processing, safety and security and sustainable development.
- Training of future managers and young researchers.
In Wallonia, universities are joined within three Academies (Louvain, Wallonia-Brussels, Wallonia-Europe), which are members of LWI’s network. Logistics-related research foci in Wallonia concentrate on:
>> Supply Chain Management,
broadly interpreted to cover all aspects of production, logistics and the supplier relations;
>> Development of advanced systems
for benchmarking and auditing the quality and performance of logistics, transport and supply chain processes;
>> Socio-economic study of the feasibility of retail or offices projects:
- Territorial development plan and evaluation of European projects
- Studies on organizations’ leverage with the supply chain
- To create competitive edge and capture the most value, with a special emphasis on sustainable cross-functional integration
- Supporting the design and implementation of logistics, transport and supply chain solutions
- Innovative (i-solutions), intelligent (e-solutions), secure (s-solutions) and sustainable
- Inland waterway traffic, sea transport and modelling of river-maritime and intermodal transport
Besides the University departments, Wallonia also has 4 research centres with a field of activities that can be applied in transport and logistics:
- Multitel’s scientific skills include voice technologies, data fusion, optic fibre applications, image processing, and computer network management.,
- Celabor is mainly specialised in environment and packaging;
- Cetic is specialised in ICT and in the application of ICT in a.o. transport and logistics
- The Belgian Road Research Center is specialised in mobility, traffic and safety, geotechnics and environment, concrete roads and pavement, bituminous pavements, surfacings for bridge decks and roof-top car parks
In December 2009, Wallonia has been selected as the first logistic region in Europe for the settlement of European Distribution Centers by the international real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield. This report made a ranking of top locations for distribution and logistics in Europe, based upon macro-economic parameters. This is done by using a ranked-matrix method for 61 European regions and for the optimal location of a European Distribution Centre (EDC, not a regional logistics centre).
This study confirmed why the Walloon Government decided in 2006 to select transport and logistics as one of its 5 competitiveness clusters It was pointed out that Wallonia has various assets for logistics but lacked a coordination platform to stimulate collaboration and innovation.
To sum up, Pros and Cons in the present Walloon transport-related economic development are:
Potential for increased growth and competitiveness
- Developing projects:
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- The sea ports are actively looking for partnerships in the hinterland
- Rise of fuel prices will foster the use of multimodality
- Excellent access to the main European markets
- The core West-German markets like the Ruhrgebiet, the core Benelux markets like Randstad and the Antwerp/Brussels area, Paris/Ile-de-France and the greater London area.
- A central geographic location, optimal to cover a wide range of European markets