Capture: Belgian project proves the importance of being resourceful

Located in the Tech Lane Ghent Science Park in Belgium, the Capture building will act as a centre for all resource recovery initiatives in Flanders. It will allow academia, industry and government to collaborate on finding ways of using resources more effectively.

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A computer-generated image of the Capture building. ©Capture A computer-generated image of the Capture building. ©Capture

" Since the start of the Capture journey in 2015, the platform has managed to connect stakeholders of academia, industry, policy and society at the Flemish level and beyond related to the three envisioned resource recovery pipelines – water fit-for-use, CO2 to product, plastics to resource. This has led to inspiring collaborations facilitating the transition to a circular economy. "

Kurt Moens, Vice-Governor of the Province of East-Flanders, Belgium

Initiated by Ghent University, Capture is leading the way towards a more sustainable, circular economy. By clustering multidisciplinary groups of experts, researchers and industry stakeholders, the project is developing solutions for reusing and recovering water, carbon dioxide and plastics.

As part of the project, an EU-funded business accelerator hub is being constructed for research, valorisation, training and implementation.

Research and implementation

Financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the 7 000 m2 building is slated for completion by the summer of 2020. It will act as business accelerator and link between academia, industry, government and the public.

The first three floors of the five-story building will be used as a research centre, while the top two floors will serve as an incubator for companies and industry spin-offs. The involvement of government representatives will facilitate meetings between all parties involved, creating a network that can swiftly take any developed technologies to the market.

From water to waste to water

The building will act as a living lab, where developed technologies are demonstrated to the public. In case of the project’s water-fit-for-use theme, a self-sustaining business platform called Resource Recovery Technology (R²T) has been set up. It is bringing Ghent University professors and industry representatives together to develop innovative technologies for the water sector and recover as much value as possible from used water, both in an urban and in an industrial setting.

The building is near a local wastewater treatment facility, to allow for testing of new technologies. For instance, a collection of stored urine will be showcased as a resource to produce water and fertilizer.

Several interregional projects have been set up through the project’s efforts. For example, IMPROVED is an international collaboration between 10 partners from academia, industry and government in Belgium and the Netherlands. It is developing a mobile research installation to process industrial wastewater into water of the desired quality.

Training the next generation workforce

To maintain the benefits of a circular economy, the project is training the workforce of tomorrow by setting up Master’s-degree, PhD and lifelong learning programmes that go beyond the borders of a conventional education. Capture’s researchers are actively organising summer schools, workshops and training events for PhD and postdoctoral students. The project is expected to create 1 200 jobs over the next 10 years.

The project is moving the economy away from the make-take-dispose model of resources towards a sustainable, circular one. Rather than providing a single solution by developing one technology per issue, Capture offers a pipeline of solutions by clustering expertise from different sectors. This will ensure a collective focus on the complex problems facing society. 


“The Capture initiative has allowed our company to closely interact with the latest research and with other stakeholders and potential customers in the full water cycle via the business platform.”


Dr. Wim Audenaert CEO and founder of spin-off company AM-TEAM


"As a researcher, my involvement in the Capture initiative expands my network and opportunities for collaboration outside a purely academic environment. I believe that building stronger working relationships between people in academia, industry, and government will be critical in overcoming the challenges that we face as a global society. Capture is leading by example to make this happen."


Dr. Tyler Arbour, postdoctoral researcher


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Capture – Centre For Advanced Process Technology for Urban Resource Recovery” is EUR 12 395 326, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 4 831 833 through the “OP Flanders Belgium” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period.