Village Partenaire : the heart of innovation in the circular economy in Brussels

Established in Saint-Gilles, at the heart of one of the most mixed municipalities in the Brussels Region, the Partner Village has been welcoming and supporting project leaders for nearly ten years. With this specificity: that we approach the economy from the particular angle of sustainable development.

Partner Village and sustainable entrepreneurship

A henhouse, composters and an aquaponics unit? No, you are not dreaming: you are in a business centre. Not just any one, however. Christophe Van Pelt, director of the Partner Village: “The story of Village Partenaire began with the opening of a local economy office specialising in sustainable entrepreneurship. The adventure then developed with the opening of a Business Centre specialising in sustainable development themes through the application of environmental management administered by an eco-advisor specifically assigned to this mission. ” This specificity has enabled the Partner Village to carry out various missions. Like this project carried out in the waste sector: “With the Brussels Waste Network, with which we worked in particular last year, the centre has helped hosted companies to better manage the waste produced and to step up efforts on the waste that has the most impact on the environment. Recently, we asked the companies hosted in the centre to give us their suggestions through an ideas competition. ”An interesting initiative, because the Village accommodates nearly 90 people in 35 companies.

A strong message

Structurally, the work of the Partner Village is designed around four guidelines that stimulate daily reflection. Supporting local private initiative, thanks to the hosting of start-up companies and the support of promoters; revitalising the socio-economic fabric of the lower Saint-Gilles district and attracting economically profitable projects; offering a local economy office nearby; and, finally, helping to set up sustainable entrepreneurial projects which will, if necessary, be hosted within its walls.

Beyond the message conveyed to the regulars of the place, the small team of the Village Partenaire endeavours to repeat its sustainable leitmotiv. It does this with those who go through its support structure. Or those who come to see it, whether a customer, or a supplier. Christophe Van Pelt: “We are doing our best to get the message across. Whatever activities are being organised, the protection of the environment always appears in the background”. The mission that the Partner Village has assigned itself also leads it to promote the emergence of links between the companies present in the centre, through the establishment of collaborations: “This is the case, for example, of the energy design, special techniques and stability design office Enesta and the sustainable communication agency Freeman & Greenwood who are actively collaborating, the first on technical aspects related to energy savings, the second on elements related to communication around this very specific theme. “

Urban food production

Another specificity of the Partner Village is that it has accumulated great expertise in the field of urban food production. “For three years, the cellars have been fitted out to accommodate an agro-food production activity. We hosted Little Food, the Champignon de Bruxelles (Brussels Mushroom) and several other projects in the sustainable food niche. . These projects were welcomed with us before continuing elsewhere, as the case may be. We are an incubator. The idea is to allow people to test their business model and then continue their development elsewhere. “

In this food register, Christophe Van Pelt is also very proud to present the aquaponics unit of the Partner Village. This is an installation that people come to visit from all over Europe. Ambitions for the future? Pursuing the activities of the business centre, allowing an even greater number of promoters to join in the wake of innovative and sustainable economic development, with values and added value. It’s all the harm we wish them for 2018.

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