VIB is an entrepreneurial non-profit research institute, with a clear focus on groundbreaking strategic basic research in life sciences and operates in close partnership with the five universities in Flanders – Ghent University, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Hasselt University.
VIB scientists study the molecular mechanisms that regulate the functions of the human body, plants and microorganisms. Such mechanistic research leads to innovative insights into the normal and abnormal/pathological life processes, with the potential to use these insights to develop novel therapeutics, diagnostics, agricultural applications and technologies. Thanks to the hard work of many people over a period of almost 25 years and the support of a sustained investment by the government of Flanders, VIB is widely recognized as an established and world-leading knowledge center in life sciences and biotechnology with an excellent reputation in technology transfer. The unique combination of strategic basic research and a clear focus on innovation & business is one of the major contributors to its success. VIB is highly committed to being the driving force behind the growth of the dynamic life sciences cluster in Flanders.
VIB’s mission, vision and core values
It’s our mission to conduct pioneering biomolecular research in life sciences to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms of life and to translate our research findings into products and solutions that benefit society.
We believe that breakthrough research in the molecular mechanisms of life will lead to a better quality of life, economic growth and sustainable societal well-being.
We strive for excellence in all areas of our research and encourage our scientists and employees to be entrepreneurial and creative in their thinking. Our focus on innovative technologies ensures that our research is genuinely ground-breaking, and our ambitious tech transfer approach ensures that breakthroughs in science are translated into value for society. We stimulate public engagement and transparent communication to build trust and mutual understanding.
VIB consists of eight thematic research centers embedded in the campus of the five universities in Flanders.
Headquarters and its units
VIB-headquarters is in Zwijnaarde (Ghent), Belgium and accommodates the general management of VIB and its staff. The institute is under the leadership of two Managing Directors, Jo Bury and Jérôme Van Biervliet. The primary role of the central team at VIB HQ, is to create a stimulating environment in which talent can excel. The Management Committee is responsible for developing and implementing the institutional strategy. The different units at VIB HQ deploy a pro-active attitude to create added value for the scientific community of VIB, to provide the VIB scientists with tools to enable and facilitate their research and to reduce their administrative burden as much as possible.
Facilitating VIB’s research centers, core facilities and central services
The operations team provides adequate and state of the art infrastructure to all our research teams. Alongside this, their role will be to increase the efficiency of support from VIB headquarters and from the universities as well as exploring the deployment of inter-center services. Every effort is made within the organization to ensure that all processes run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Accommodating new start-ups
VIB has taken care of the need of biotech start-ups since the very early days through its bio-incubators in Ghent and Leuven. Successful commercial real estate initiatives have followed in the meantime to address the needs of more mature biotech companies. As the Flemish biotech cluster continues to grow, so does the need for state-of-the art accommodation for biotech companies. As a result, the team has developed plans for new infrastructure projects to continue to meet these demands and give VIB start-ups the best possible chances to grow to maturity.
Tapping into new funding resources
Together with VIB scientists, the team also identifies and tries to materialize new potential channels of significant funding for our research. The idea is to call upon international foundations and other charitable organizations in a more structured way. The plan is to identify such opportunities and to see to what extent VIB can benefit from this, leveraging our successful track record in many areas.
Attracting highly motivated, creative and dedicated scientists from all over the world is one of the strategic components of the HR strategy of VIB. Having a solid and forward looking recruitment strategy in place is a basic requirement for doing so. Retaining our scientists and offering them a stimulating and supportive environment with ample scientific coaching, feedback and training is a second pillar of the VIB HR strategy. Additionally, VIB wishes to be a warm workplace with attention to all aspects of well-being at work. Finally, VIB wishes to empower its scientists through career development initiatives to move on to their next career step within or outside VIB.
VIB’s Science & Technology
To maintain the highest standards in research, VIB has established clear policies, procedures and practices to support its researchers. VIB’s international grants’ office bundles expertise and boosts all activities related to international grant applications at VIB.
VIB’s Science and Technology team sets up standards for monitoring and benchmarking VIB’s research to measure the impact of its science output.
As technologies continue to evolve, research methods follow suit. New technological solutions often require expertise and skills far beyond what one center, let alone one research group, can provide. This is exactly why VIB invests heavily in its Tech Watch program and in state-of-the-art Core Facilities.
VIB Innovation & Business
VIB actively encourages technology transfer and supports its researchers in converting their findings into potential products for various markets. The Innovation & Business team provides key expertise in the translation of basic scientific discoveries and the set-up of industrial partnerships that allow the further advancement of product development.
VIB Conferences & Outreach
Communicating effectively about VIB’s research to broader, non-scientist audiences helps to build support for science. It promotes the understanding of VIB’s wider relevance to society and encourages more informed decision-making at all levels, from policymakers to communities and individuals. In addition, VIB’s Conferences & Outreach team offers a program of international scientific conferences and science events in various VIB research fields.
VIB Finance and Administration
VIB headquarters also supports the functioning of the institute administratively. The finance department is responsible for accounting services, reporting and cost control, short term and long-term financing, tax compliance, insurance and legal matters.
On the logistics side, headquarters support the procurement process in the center through an ERP system and through legal advice and support in relation to major investments and expenses that are subject to specific legislation for public procurement.
The IT department supports the headquarters' administrative systems, as well as the ERP system, the interdepartmental network and the VIB websites.
VIB is an autonomous, non-profit research institute, headed by a general assembly and a board of directors. The general management is responsible for overseeing VIB day to day. The science directors, who head the VIB research centers, lead the institutes’ scientific program. The institutional advisory board assists VIB in its institutional policy.
The general assembly is the organization's most senior body and consists of 35 members from academia, the industry, public and civil society.
The board of directors heads the association and represents it extrajudicially. It consists of 13 representatives from academia, industry and government.
The general management, Jo Bury and Jérôme Van Biervliet (Managing Directors), ensures the institute’s day to day management. They are assisted by the unit managers: Wim Goemaere - Chief Operating Officer, Rik Audenaert - Chief Financial Officer, Marijke Lein - Human Resources Director, Geert Van Minnebruggen - Head of Science & Technology, Rinaldo Beck – Head of ICT, Katrina Wright - Communications Manager and a central team of colleagues.
8 Science Directors head the VIB research centers and guarantee their center’s and the institute’s scientific leadership. They make up the institute's management committee together with an extended general management.
The group leader committee consists of one group leader from each center and the associated VIB-groups. Their primary mission is to assist in defining and implementing the institutional scientific strategy.
The institutional advisory board, which regularly formulates recommendations to VIB, assists VIB in its institutional policy.
International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (IPBO)
Modern plant biotechnology holds many of the potential solutions for sustainable agricultural and industrial systems. However, converting this promise into practice in less developed regions will require a concerted effort in training in --and access to-- the latest technological developments and the design of effective biosafety and regulatory mechanisms.
IPBO contributes to awareness and capacity building through knowledge transfer in enabling technologies, international regulations and intellectual property rights, and the promotion of innovative research oriented to the needs of developing nations.
IPBO is an initiative of Marc Van Montagu at Ghent University and is supported by the Flemish Government. Its mission is to promote technology and knowledge transfer for sustainable agro - and agro-industrial development.
Em. Prof. Marc Van Montagu is a pioneer in plant molecular biology. He is well known (with J. Schell) as the discoverer of the Ti-plasmid and the inventor of Agrobacterium tumefaciens transformation technology, now used worldwide to produce genetically engineered plants. Van Montagu used this new technology to study gene regulation and to discover the molecular basis of several plant physiological processes. He has made major contributions to the identification of genes involved in plant growth, development and flowering. He was Founding Member and Member of the Board of Directors of two Belgian biotech companies, spin-offs from his laboratory, Plant Genetic System (PGS) and CropDesign. At PGS he drove front-line innovations for biotech agriculture, such as plants resistant to insects or tolerant to more environmentally friendly herbicides.
He has won numerous prizes amongst which the Japan prize, is a member of several academies including the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, Italy and Third World Academy of Sciences, the Academies of Agriculture of France and Russia, and the Academy of Engineering of Sweden. He has produced over 750 publications. Due to his accomplishments he received in1990 the title of Baron from the King of Belgians. Currently he is is president of the Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI), and president of the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB), and he is chairman of International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (IPBO).
On 17th October 2013 Marc Van Montagu was awarded the “World Food Prize 2013”, jointly with the American scientists Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert T. Fraley.